An American teacher was stabbed and killed by a burqa-clad attacker inside the bathroom of a shopping mall in Abu Dhabi. The victim, identified as 47-year-old Ibolya Ryan, was the mother of twin 11-year-old boys and a 15-year-old daughter. The gruesome attack occurred inside the upscale Bourik Mall in Reem Island, a residential and commercial development in Abu Dhabi. Police say the suspect then planted a bomb at the home of an American doctor.
Here’s what you need to know about Ibolya Ryan and the attack that took her life:
1. The Attacker, Who Was Caught on Video, Told Ryan ‘Sit Down or I’ll Kill You’
Shocking surveillance video (above) shows the panicked aftermath of the stabbing. The attacker calmly gets on an elevator while members of the public try to get out of her way. She’s then shown walking out of the mall as if nothing happened. The weapon used in the attack, a kitchen knife, was found in the bathroom close to where the victim was discovered in a pool of her own blood after being stabbed six times. The National in UAE reported that Ryan was rushed to Sheikh Khalifa Medical City hospital but died of her injuries.
According to police in Abu Dhabi, via Gulf News, the attacker went to the bathroom just after 1 p.m. on December 1, where she lay in wait. The stabbing didn’t happen until after 2 p.m. The motive for the attack isn’t known, but a witness told The National in the UAE that she heard the attacker say to the victim, “Sit down or I’ll kill you.” That witness added:
I heard one of them try to call out for help. By this time there were three of us outside the toilet and one of us ran to get security. When the female security guard arrived they told us to leave the bathroom. I was so scared and frightened for her.
2. Ryan Was the Mother of Twin Boys & a Daughter
Ryan was a kindergarten teacher and a divorced mother of twin 11-year-old boys, named Adam and Aiden, and a 15-year-old daughter, Timea. Police in Abu Dhabi said the boy’s father was not in the United Arab Emirates at the time of the attack but is heading there to be with his sons. According to an interview with Footprints Recruiting, Ryan was born in Romania but her family is from Hungary. She trained as a teacher in the U.S. When asked in the interview about her biggest problems in settling into life in the United Arab Emirates, she said:
My biggest challenge was to settle in with young children and at the same time keep up with all the new knowledge from a new country’s school system and expectations. ADEC gave us plenty of information regards getting all the documents, but if you are here alone with children there are a lot of documents you need to get and many issues you need to solve.
On her LinkedIn page, it shows that she started working as an English teacher in Abu Dhabi in September 2013.
3. Her Ex-Husband Is From Colorado
Online documents show that Ibolya lived with a her husband, Paul Ryan (above), in Denver, Colorado. Her maiden name was Balaszi.
On her LinkedIn page, Ibolya writes that she worked as a special education teacher in Colorado between 1997 and 2001. From there she went to work as an executive assistant at Process Stream Technologies in Denver. In 2007, she appears to have moved to Hungary, and then Austria in 2010. On Paul Ryan’s Facebook page, he says that he lives in Vienna, Austria.
4. After the Stabbing, the Attacker Planted a Bomb at the Home of an American Doctor
The suspect, who’s been referred to as “The Reem Island Ghost,” was taken into custody on December 4, according to local police. You can watch her arrest in the footage above, released by police. The raid on her apparent home, which involved dozens of officers in high-tech SWAT gear, can be viewed at the 5-minute mark. The video also shows the suspect walking around town and driving in a white vehicle, as well as images of evidence seized.
Cops in Abu Dhabi added that after killing Ibolya, the suspect allegedly planted a “primitive bomb” outside the home of an American doctor in the city. The bomb was discovered by the doctor’s son when he was leaving their home to go to evening prayer. The bomb, made of small gas cylinders, a lighter, glue and nails, was dismantled by security forces.
5. Last Month, the Department of State Issued a Warning About Attacks on U.S. Teachers in Abu Dhabi
On October 28, the the Department of State issued a warning for U.S. citizens, particularly teachers, in Abu Dhabi that there had been an anonymous threat posted on a Jihadist website. The message read, in part:
The Embassy/Consulate wishes to notify the U.S. citizen community of a recent anonymous posting on a Jihadist website that encouraged attacks against teachers at American and other international schools in the Middle East. The Mission is unaware of any specific, credible threat against any American or other school or individual in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Nonetheless, the Mission is working with local schools identified with the United States to review their security posture.
U.S. citizens residing in or visiting the UAE should remain vigilant regarding their personal security and be alert to local security developments.
It is always advisable to keep your security and situational awareness levels high. Please follow these good personal security practices:
Avoid crowds or large gatherings when traveling in public;
Know where you are going and have a plan of what to do in the event you encounter demonstrations or violence;
Identify safe areas (for example police stations, hospitals) in your area and how to get to them quickly;
Tell co-workers or neighbors where you’re going and when you intend to return;
Minimize your profile while in public;
Always carry a cell phone and make sure you have emergency numbers pre-programmed into your phone such as the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi (02-414-2200), and U.S. Consulate General in Dubai (04-309-4000). The emergency number for the Abu Dhabi Police, Fire, and Rescue is 999;
Be prepared to postpone or cancel activities for personal safety concerns;
Report concerns you may have to the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai.