Former US official arrested for harassing Arab worker man in NYC

[23-11-2023 10:40 AM]

Ammon News - A former Obama-era National Security Council official has been arrested after a series of videos shared widely on social media showed him using hate-laden, Islamophobic language against an employee working inside a New York City food cart, police said.

Stuart Seldowitz, 64, was arrested Wednesday on preliminary charges of hate crime/stalking, second-degree aggravated harassment, stalking causing fear, and stalking at employment, according to the NYPD.

It’s unclear what charges Seldowitz will ultimately face when the Manhattan district attorney’s office gets the case. CNN was unable to immediately identify an attorney for Seldowitz.

Before his arrest was announced, Seldowitz confirmed to CNN in an email it is him in the videos, which were recorded by a vendor from inside a food cart on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and appear to be from different days.

In the videos posted online this month, Seldowitz mocks Islam, taunts the man about his citizenship status, accuses him of supporting Hamas and references the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

“You support killing little children,” Seldowitz says to the vendor in one video. The vendor retorts, “You kill children, not me.”

Seldowitz replies, “If we killed 4,000 Palestinian children, you know what? It wasn’t enough!”

The New York City Police Department told CNN on Tuesday that a commanding officer is aware of the videos and local precinct personnel “are monitoring the situation.”

The videos come as the US is experiencing an “unprecedented” increase in reported anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias incidents since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, according to the Council on American-Islamic relations.

At the same time, the reports of antisemitic incidents across the country have also spiked, with FBI Director Christopher Wray saying last month the threat was reaching “historic levels” and the Anti-Defamation League reporting a 388% increase in reported incidents in the weeks following October 7, compared to the same period last year.

In another video, Seldowitz asks the man whether he’s familiar with Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, better known as the Mukhabarat.

“Mukhabarat in Egypt will get your parents,” Seldowitz says to the vendor. “Does your father like his fingernails? They’ll take them out one by one.”

The former government official then holds up his phone, says, “Smile for me,” and laughs.

Seldowitz also makes derogatory comments about the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), ridiculing Islam, which he appears to believe is the vendor’s religion.

Seldowitz, 64, told the Daily Beast that while he started up the conversation with the food vendor about current affairs, the video clips only show one side of the story. He told the outlet the vendor instigated the interaction by allegedly expressing his support for Hamas.

The former official also told City & State, “I regret the whole thing happened and I’m sorry.” He added, “But you know, in the heat of the moment, I said things that probably I shouldn’t have said.”

Seldowitz served as acting director for the National Security Council South Asia Directorate in the early 2000s, according to a since-removed profile page on lobbying group Gotham Government Relations’ website. According to his LinkedIn profile, Seldowitz served in the position from February 2009 to January 2011 during former President Barack Obama’s administration.


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