Accused Jewish Terrorist Jack Teitel

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Israeli Police / Reuters

Jack Teitel sits in an Israeli police vehicle after being arrested in the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel

An American living in Israel has been arrested and charged with a string of terror attacks over more than a decade against Arab, gay and leftist targets. Israeli police describe Yaakov (Jack) Teitel as a Jewish extremist and say he is responsible for the murder of two Palestinians in 1997 and a pair of bombings that left a professor and a 15-year-old boy wounded, among other crimes. Teitel's Oct. 7 arrest was made public on Nov. 1; police say they found a weapons laboratory at his West Bank home and a weapons cache nearby. His attorney says the 37-year-old father of four is mentally unstable.

Fast Facts:

• Born in November 1972 to Orthodox Jewish parents in Florida. His father was a military dentist and his mother a medical secretary. His family later moved to Norfolk, Virginia.

• Began traveling back and forth to Israel in the 1990s on tourist visas. Emigrated permanently in 2000.

• Worked as a self-employed computer technician and website designer. Lived with his wife Rivka, whom he met and married in Israel, and four children in the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel until his arrest.

• Has allegedly confessed to the 1997 shooting deaths of two Palestinians, a cab driver in Jerusalem and a shepherd near the city of Hebron, in retaliation for suicide bombings targeting Jews. Was detained by Israeli police in 2000 on suspicion of the killings, but was released due to insufficient evidence.

• Perhaps most notoriously, Teitel is accused of sending a booby-trapped gift basket in March 2008 to the home of an American family in Israel who belonged to a messianic Jewish sect. The homemade bomb seriously wounded a 15-year-old boy, Ami Ortiz, severing two of his toes, damaging his hearing and threatening his promising basketball career.

• Accused of detonating a pipe bomb in 2008 at the home of Israeli professor Zeev Sternhell, a critic of the country's far right and the Jewish settler movement. Sternhell suffered minor injuries. Other alleged attacks include stabbing and wounding an Arab whom he believed was making sexual advances in a Jerusalem park in 1997, and attacking a police station in 2006 to distract police officers from a nearby gay-pride parade.

• Arrested Oct. 7 in Jerusalem while distributing leaflets that praised an August shooting at a gay community center in Tel Aviv that killed two young people. He was armed with a loaded handgun when he was arrested. He confessed to the killings, though police say they're certain he wasn't involved.

• An arms cache discovered near his home reportedly included nine different automatic weapons, sniper rifles and pistols that Teitel said he'd smuggled from the U.S.

• Reportedly told investigators he dreamed that God had instructed him to carry out his attacks and he would die if he did not obey. Also said he acted alone and not in connection with extremist groups.

• Described as a loner who generally kept his family indoors. Neighbors and even relatives say they did not know Teitel well, in part because he did not speak fluent Hebrew.

Quotes About:

"He is like a serial killer. This guy was a Jewish terrorist who targeted different types of people."
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. (AP, Nov. 1, 2009)

"What should be clear to any person is that my client is, in the best case, mentally unstable, and believes he has been sent by God. He saw signs, he had dreams, and became motivated to act ... He has many strange theories that were interlinked. It all seemed logical to him."
Adi Keidar, Teitel's attorney. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 1, 2009)

"We are horrified by the fact that there are elements of Israeli society, Jews who feel justified in taking the lives of other Jews because of their beliefs."
Leah Ortiz, mother of Ami Ortiz, 15, who was badly hurt by an explosive allegedly planted by Teitel. (New York Times, Nov. 2, 2009)

"He is a quiet man. Introverted, doesn't get involved much in society, Even with us — even though we are family, we didn't really speak to him much."
Sarah Avitan, Teitel's sister-in-law. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 2, 2009)

"I have always known him to be a nice guy, someone who gave me rides, with a sweet wife. I was floored when I heard this."
Batya Medad, a resident of a nearby settlement who knew Teitel. (New York Times, Nov. 2, 2009)