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2014: See video of arrest in UAE mall killing
02:55 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

NEW: Slain American teacher is remembered for compassion and dedication

Woman also accused of planting bomb near U.S. doctor's house in UAE

American was stabbed in the women's restroom at high-end mall, police say

The 47-year-old victim was a schoolteacher, mother of three

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates CNN  — 

An Emirati woman arrested on suspicion of fatally stabbing a U.S. teacher in a bathroom at a United Arab Emirates mall also is accused of placing a handmade bomb in front of an American doctor’s house, the country’s interior minister said Thursday.

Police arrested the woman, identified only as in her 30s and a UAE national, Interior Minister Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan said.

More details about the arrest weren’t immediately available.

According to a diplomatic source, the woman arrested was of Yemeni origin and had traveled back and forth to Yemen “multiple times.”

The woman was arrested about 48 hours after the attack. She is being interrogated by Emirati authorities and the investigation into the incident is ongoing, the source said.

Police said a veiled woman stabbed American schoolteacher Ibolya Ryan, 47, during a fight in a restroom at the high-end Boutik Mall on Reem Island on Monday.

The alleged attacker was fully covered, donning an abaya – a black, full-length gown traditionally worn by Emirati women – black gloves, a face cover and a hijab, or head scarf, police said. She fled the mall after the attack.

Police say they think Ryan, who was the mother of three children, did not know the attacker.

The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi issued a statement, back in October, warning U.S. citizens of an anonymous Internet post that encouraged attacks against teachers at American and other international schools. The embassy was unaware of any specific, credible threat at that time, but called on citizens to be vigilant about their personal security.

Teacher remembered for compassion, dedication

Just a few months after her arrival in Abu Dhabi, Ryan offered enthusiastic advice to other teachers considering working abroad.

“I would say be positive, open minded, flexible and take every challenge as a learning experience,” she wrote on the website of Footprints Recruiting, which placed her in Abu Dhabi. “Also be thankful that you are able to have the experience of working abroad; I think at the end it makes you not just learn about others but also about yourself.”

Ryan was born in Romania, held Hungarian and American citizenship and had been a dedicated teacher for 17 years, according to a Footprints Recruiting profile of her.

In September 2013, she began teaching in Abu Dhabi, where she lived with her 11-year-old twin boys. Before that, she taught special education students in Colorado, Footprints Recruiting CEO Ben Glickman said.

Ryan, known as Iby to her friends, was very enthusiastic about the UAE and her work at an Emirati public school, Glickman said.

“She was getting immersed in the culture and talking about learning Arabic,” he said. “She thought this was a good experience for her children and she was having a good experience as well.”

Glickman, who described her as a “compassionate and warm person,” said employees in the UAE were “shaken” over Ryan’s death, but waiting for the results of the investigation.

“People obviously want answers, but are withholding judgment until we get further information,” he said.

Interior minister: Attacker wanted to create chaos

Surveillance video released by police shows the moments before and after the mall stabbing. A veiled figure that police identified as the attacker walks calmly in through a parking lot entrance, speaking to security guards, picking up a paper and disappearing around the corner out of sight.

The video later shows the suspect running to an elevator and then leaving the mall through the same parking lot doors.

Reem Island is a newly developed area of Abu Dhabi where many Western expatriates live.

Later Monday, the suspect placed a primitive bomb in front of a house where an American Muslim doctor lives, said Al Nahyan, adding that authorities had video of the event.

The doctor’s son saw the object and called police, Al Nahyan said. Police defused the device.

Investigators believe that the attacker wanted to create chaos and spread fear, Al Nahyan said. He didn’t discuss possible motives beyond that or say what led police to the suspect.

CNN’s Nicola Goulding reported from Abu Dhabi and Jason Hanna wrote in Atlanta. CNN’s Laura Smith-Spark, Elise Labott and Zahraa Alkhalisi contributed to this report.