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Tuesday, 5 November, 2002, 16:04 GMT
US Jewish militant 'attempts suicide'
Irving Rubin being cautioned by a policeman at a protest rally
Rubin (left) believed Jews were too willing to 'turn the other cheek'
The leader of a militant American Jewish organisation has been left brain dead and on a life support machine after slitting his throat while in detention awaiting trial.


There's no evidence that this was anything but a suicide [attempt]

William Woolsey

Irv Rubin, the head of the Jewish Defense League, was scheduled to appear in court on Monday in relation to charges that he and another man plotted to bomb a mosque and the office of an Arab-American congressman.

But while standing in a queue of inmates waiting to be transported to court, he apparently slashed his throat with a razor blade and then either fell or jumped from a balcony in the detention centre.

"He is on life support and his prognosis is dire," Mr Rubin's lawyer told the news agency Reuters.

"I don't know if there is any indication that that can change in a positive way."

After falling about five meters (18 feet) from the balcony, Mr Rubin was rushed to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Centre where he received surgery for wounds to the head and throat, but did not regain consciousness.

'Wake-up call'

"There is no evidence at this point that it was anything but a suicide," said William Woolsey, a spokesman for the US judiciary said.

Rubin's controversial past
1978: charged with soliciting murder after offering to pay anyone who killed a Nazi. Ultimately cleared.
1985: investigated in connection with murder of Arab-American activist Alex Odeh. Case never solved.
2002: won a ruling barring officials in a suburb from invoking Jesus Christ at public meetings
Claims to have been arrested over 40 times

Mr Rubin and Earl Krugel, a dental hygienist, were arrested on 11 December 2001 on charges of scheming to bomb the King Fahd mosque in Culver City, a Los Angeles suburb, and the office of California congressman Darrell E Issa - the grandson of Lebanese immigrants.

The prosecution case alleges that while Mr Krugel built the bombs, Mr Rubin selected targets and planned attacks to deliver what Mr Krugel called "a wake-up call" to Arabs.

The men allegedly wanted to demonstrate with their bombs that despite dwindling membership, the Jewish Defence League - founded in 1968 as an armed response to anti-Semitism in New York - was "alive in a militant way".

An FBI informant alerted authorities to the alleged plot.

If the men were convicted of the charges, which they deny, they could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Despondent

Mr Rubin's wife said she found it hard to believe Mr Rubin would have attempted suicide.

"This was a hit," she said, according to the news agency AP.

"I saw my husband yesterday. He was just the same as before. He didn't say goodbye... He was fine."

But the lawyer for Mr Krugel, Mark Werksman, said Mr Rubin had been "despondent for months".

"The pressure of the Monday court appearance may have pushed him over the top."


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05 Feb 01 | Americas
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