Western values have long been denounced by Muslim extremists, who chose to kill westerners just to make a point.

Ibolya Ryan, a 47-year-old American teacher in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, cared tremendously for others. It was that care that led her to teach in an Arab country so that she could learn first-hand about the Arab world, their culture and daily life. She had aspirations of one day opening her own school.

But all that ended on Monday when she was stabbed to death in the restroom of an upscale shopping mall in Abu Dhabi. Just four weeks earlier, the US State Department had issued a warning, based on an anonymous post on a jihadist terrorist website encouraging attacks against teachers at American and other international schools in the Middle East.

Although the attacker was caught on security cameras before and after the attack, there is no direct evidence that Ryan was a specific target. However, it seems clear that she was targeted because she was an American.


According to the surveillance cameras, the suspect, a burka-clad woman, entered a woman’s bathroom in the mall and waited approximately 90 minutes before leaving the bathroom after carrying out the attack. This seems to imply that while Ms. Ryan may or may not have been the specific target, it was a premeditated attack on a westerner, rather than a crime of opportunity.

American and Western Values are the Target

Although relations between the United States and Israel have been strained during the Obama administration, US citizens have long been a target of jihadist terror groups, not only because the US is an ally of Israel but primarily because of what the US itself represents. Western values have long been denounced by Muslim extremists, frequently choosing to kill westerners just to make a point. The events of 9-11 are just one of literally thousands of attacks specifically aimed at the US as a representative of the West.

A case in point is the increase in ISIS videos of hostages from the West being captured, converted to Islam and beheaded. ISIS claims these videos, according to an NBC News report, are being done in order to draw the US into a ground war and to prove that attacks by the US so far have not affected them.

In the fight against Islamic extremism, Israel is not alone.  The United States and all the values it represents are being mocked and threatened. The solution is a strong stance by the United States, not only in defending its own interests, but the only democracy in the Middle East – Israel.

Tell us in the comments below: How do YOU think America should deal with this threat to her citizens abroad?

Author: Penina Taylor, United with Israel