Islamophobic Ex-Obama Adviser Stuart Seldowitz Freed by Judge on Thanksgiving


Stuart Seldowitz, the former high-ranking U.S. national security official who was caught on video threatening a Manhattan halal cart vendor during several racist tirades, was quickly released from custody Thursday shortly after his arrest.

The disgraced ex-diplomat, who served under former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, was identified after several videos surfaced online that showed him repeatedly visiting a halal street vendor in the Upper East Side—and issuing barbaric threats and Islamophobic remarks against the unsuspecting small business operator.

He was identified by journalist Mohammed El-Kurd, and Seldowitz subsequently admitted to The Daily Beast that he was the man in the video. Police arrested Seldowitz on Wednesday. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr.’s office charged him with fourth-degree hate crime stalking and second-degree aggressive harassment for threatening to injure the man’s family.

But he spent less time in custody than it took to track him down. On Thursday, the 64-year-old was rapidly brought before a New York state judge who immediately let him go. According to court records, Seldowitz pleaded “not guilty” at his arraignment and was released without even paying bail.

“He’s a peace-loving person, devoid of hate from Muslims or anyone else,” Seldowitz’s attorney Scott Bookstein told Manhattan Criminal Court Judge James Clynes, according to the New York Post.

“I want the court, the prosecution, the media and the public to know that the allegations attributed to my client are 100% antithetical to who Stuart Seldowitz is — what his core beliefs are,” Bookstein said, adding his client is “not a warmonger and an Islamophobe.”

Justice James G. Clynes put Seldowitz on supervised release ahead of a potential trial. If convicted, Seldowitz faces up to a year at New York’s dreaded Rikers Island jail.

New Yorkers from across the city came together to support halal cart operator Mohammed Hussein after watching the hateful attacks by Seldowitz, with city councilwoman Julie Menin stressing that “hate and harassment have no place in our community.”

Videos show how Seldowitz would walk up to Hussein’s tiny, teal-colored food cart on the sidewalk and berate him for several minutes, calling him a “terrorist,” referring to the holy book Quran as nothing more than toilet paper, and directly threatening to have the man’s family get tortured by the feared Egyptian Mukhabarat intelligence agency “when they deport you back to Egypt.”

“The Mukhabarat in Egypt will get your parents. Does your father like his fingernails? They’ll take them out one-by-one,” he said during one tirade, then menacingly took the vendor’s photo.

The threats took on an entirely new level of gravity when considering Seldowitz’s past high-ranking positions and diplomatic connections. He was a national security adviser during the Obama administration, served on the president’s elite National Security Council as the acting director for South Asia in 2009, and also spent years as deputy director of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs from 1999 to 2003. He later served on the Bloomberg View editorial board in 2011.

He has scrubbed his Facebook and LinkedIn pages, which documented his support for Israel and mentioned that he worked at the New York lobbying firm Gotham Government Relations, where a press release listed him as “foreign affairs chair.” He was subsequently fired after the videos went viral.

Post source: TDB

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