Abu Dhabi Police have released the name of the female suspect arrested on Thursday for the stabbing death of an American teacher in a Abu Dhabi shopping mall earlier this week. United Arab Emirates (UAE) officials said following the brutal stabbing in a bathroom inside the upscale shopping mall, the suspect planted a crude bomb in front of an Arab-American doctor’s home. Police were able to dismantle the bomb before it detonated.
The suspect arrested on Thursday was identified as Dalal al Hashemi, a 38 year-old UAE citizen of Yemeni origin, after she admitted in a written statement to police that the stabbing victim was targeted based on nationality. The victim, identified as 37- year old Ibolya Ryan, was an American kindergarten teacher at a private school in Abu Dhabi, where she lived with her two sons.
ABC News reports that Abu Dhabi police do not believe the woman acted alone. Al Hashemi was not the only person arrested at the home where she was found, however, the connection to the attack was not yet known. Police described the home as a “base of operations,” but it was not clear what groups – if any – she may be affiliated with.
Abu Dhabi Police released surveillance footage on Wednesday of the suspect entering the Boutik shopping mall where the attack occurred at around 1 p.m. on Monday wearing black gloves and the face-covering veil known as a niqab and then leaving the shopping mall 90 minutes later. Police recovered the knife used in the attack in a bathroom inside the upscale shopping mall on Al Reem Island in Abu Dhabi. In a second video released by the Ministry of the Interior on Thursday, the suspect is seen — still dressed in a traditional Muslim garb known as an abaya, with a suitcase, driving away in a white car. Armed police are seen in the video storming a house where the same white car was parked and exiting with a female in handcuffs.
U.S. embassies in the Middle East issued a warning to American teachers in September after learning of an anonymous posting on a jihadist website associated with the Islamic State or ISIS terrorists encouraged attacks against teachers at American schools. In a security message issued on October 29, the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates said:
‘The Embassy/Consulate wishes to notify the U.S. citizen community of a recent anonymous posting on a Jihadist website that encouraged attacks against teachers at American and other international schools in the Middle East. The Mission is unaware of any specific, credible threat against any American or other school or individual in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Nonetheless, the Mission is working with local schools identified with the United States to review their security posture. U.S. citizens residing in or visiting the UAE should remain vigilant regarding their personal security and be alert to local security developments.”
United Arab Emirates officials and residents were said to be in shock after the brutal attack. The capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is a haven for international residents, who make up 91 percent of the population. The security message advising Americans to avoid large crowds and to carry cellphones at all time was re-issued after the suspect’s arrest Wednesday.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued dozens of bulletins warning Americans both in the United States and abroad of terrorist or terrorist inspired attacks by “lone wolf” offenders who could target “all things American,” including U.S. embassies and American citizens. The U.S. Department of State has also repeatedly warned American citizens working or living in the Middle East to exercise extreme caution in public places, or “soft targets” which are attractive terrorist targets.