Lone Wolf

It would be a good idea to ratchet down the level of antagonism. Despite the painful memories, and the proximity to the annual day of remembrance for Yitzhak Rabin, Yaakov (Jack) Teitel is no Yigal Amir.

True, Teitel is suspected of horrible acts, he lives in a settlement and his ideological background is firmly rooted in the extreme right. But as opposed to Amir, it seems from the investigation until now that Teitel is truly a lone wolf.

Amir murdered Rabin amid a background of ongoing incitement. Teitel created his own ideological justifications, learned what he needed to do, meticulously planned every terror attack - and immediately afterward rushed back into hiding again for a few months, until the next attack. At least, according to the police and Shin Bet security service, he never looked for rabbinic approval of his actions, and he did not incite others from a group of lunatics sharing his beliefs to acts of murder.

The investigators describe a man who acted alone, at the edges of society, with very little connection to his surroundings. It is possible we will be able to find in his background, already in his childhood in the United States, the roots of the deadly combination - of hatred of Arabs, leftists and gays - of which the latter has apparently become a main target. If the accusations, and his confessions, are borne out, then the profile presented at the start of the investigation was indeed accurate: a right-wing, religious extremist, a marginal figure. But there is no reason to draw conclusions from Teitel and generalize in terms of the larger community in which he lives.

The investigation exposed a terrorist organization of one, an auto-didact who built his own explosives lab and weapons store. He told his interrogators he decided not to speak about his actions to family and friends, since he knew that would expose him.

Experienced Shin Bet investigators are convinced there was no underground involved; he was flying solo the entire time. That is a convenient explanation for Teitel, who does not have to incriminate anyone else, but it is also convenient for the police and Shin Bet, who had a murderer right under their noses on and off for 12 years. If Teitel was indeed a lone operator, it is easier to understand how hard it was to catch him.

Many parts of the case are still unsolved. Rachel Teitel, the suspect's wife, is keeping silent. Did she not notice that her husband was experimenting with explosives in their house? And the mystery surrounding the attack on the gay youth center in Tel Aviv is still unsolved. Teitel's long record of homophobia, a real obsession, makes him a natural suspect, especially as he was caught putting up posters praising the act and the murderer. But in this particular case - out of a large number of others - the investigators say they do not believe his confession. Maybe he made mistakes when describing the details of the attack, compared to the precise information he gave about the other cases? There is still a possibility he knows something about the killings and is covering up for others.

A senior Shin Bet official said repeatedly yesterday: "The conclusion of the investigation is that Teitel did not commit the murder at [the gay center]." The official refused to provide any further information.

The Shin Bet admitted yesterday, however, there are still open cases of murders of Palestinians that are attributed to Jews whose identities are known. In those cases, murder weapons have been found, the suspects were interrogated - but there were no confessions and no trials. There were at least eight cases of murdered Palestinians at the beginning of the decade. And the large store of weapons tied to those killings was found in the illegal Adi Ad outpost - the same place where Teitel hid one of the pistols he was caught with.