Sunday, January 16, 2005
The father of a murdered New Jersey family was threatened for making anti-Muslim remarks online — and the gruesome quadruple slaying may have been the hateful retaliation, sources told The Post yesterday.The New York Times version isn't focusing on the motive to the same degree.
Hossam Armanious, 47, who along with his wife and two daughters was found stabbed to death in his Jersey City home early Friday, would regularly debate religion in a Middle Eastern chat room, one source said.
Armanious, an Egyptian Christian, was well known for expressing his Coptic beliefs and engaging in fiery back-and-forth with Muslims on the Web site paltalk.com.
He "had the reputation for being one of the most outspoken Egyptian Christians," said the source, who had close ties to the family.
The source, who had knowledge of the investigation, refused to specify the anti-Muslim statement. But he said cops told him they were looking into the exchanges as a possible motive.
The married father of two had recently been threatened by Muslim members of the Web site, said a fellow Copt and store clerk who uses the chat room.
"You'd better stop this bull---- or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you," was the threat, said the clerk, who was online at the time and saw the exchange.
But Armanious refused to back down, according to two sources who use the Web site.
Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy would neither confirm nor deny that cops and prosecutors were looking into the religion motive, saying only that "nothing is being ruled out." But a relative of the mayor who answered the phone at Healy's home said there was information the murders were "religion-related."
"There are several theories we are looking into, but we are not commenting on any of them at this time," said Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Guy Gregory.
Armanious' fervor apparently rubbed off on his daughter, Sylvia — who would have turned 16 yesterday.
"She was very religious and very opinionated," said Jessica Cimino, 15, a fellow sophomore at Dickenson HS.
A family member who viewed photos of the bloodbath said Sylvia seemed to have taken the most savage punishment.
"When we saw the pictures, you could tell that they were hurt really, really bad in the face; especially Sylvia," said Milad Garas, the high-school sophomore's great-uncle.
The heartless killer not only slit Sylvia's throat, but also sliced a huge gash in her chest and stabbed her in the wrist, where she had a tattoo of a Coptic cross.
Also found murdered were the wife, Amal Garas, and the parents' other daughter, Monica.
Fred Ayed, the deacon at St. George and St. Shenouda Church, where the deeply religious family attended services, said he's worried that the murders could have a ripple effect.
"I am concerned for the safety of our community," said Ayed, who knew Hossam for 30 years. "People are scared because one family was slain like cows," said Moheb Ghabour, publisher of a local newspaper for the Coptic community.
Osama Hassan, director of the Islamic Center of Jersey City, described the relationship between Copts and Muslims as cooperative if not friendly.
"I think there might be people that can get into physical fights, but not to the point of murder," Hassan said.
Both the deacon and uncle poured cold water on the theory that the family were the victims of a robbery gone wrong.
"This is not a robbery, Ayed said. "We found all of the jewelry in the house. They didn't take anything."
The FBI confirmed it has been called in to help with the case.
Given their blindness to Militant Islam however, I don't expect the so-called freedom of speech advocates of Indymedia will be remotely concerned with any of the above, speculation or otherwise. I however am both outraged and frightened by it.
If it turns out to be true (and past murders such as artist Theo Van Gogh have happened for entirely similar political reasons this has major implications on democracy and freedom of expression. The above didn't happen in Iraq, Syria or the Palestinian Authority where stifling of expression is nothing new, it happened in New Jersey.
Update: Jihad Watch are discussing the religious imperatives which may explain this.
Update 2: Paltalk's website contact details include the ability to send encrypted messages to the company. Whilst not entirely rare for online organizations, it does seem a little bit suspicious for a company "dedicated to providing the...friendliest community among any product anywhere".
I have emailed Paltalk to request details of whether the NY Post's reference to them was correct and will update when/if I hear back from them.
Update 3: Rusty Shackleford over at The Jawa Report corrects me for referring to the victim as a 'blogger' when he was merely a chatroom user. I acknowledge the difference and await the Oxford Dictionary's formal defnition of blogger any decade now. He has also linked to a great deal of very interesting commentary about this matter. Interestingly, the mainstream media don't seem to be doing a lot of reporting over this. It would of course be a chance for Indymedia to prove itself. No such luck of course, they're still talking about the (boogedy boogedy) great Zionist Conspiracy. The blogosphere is leading the charge again.
For this reason, Faith Freedom cuts to the point and asks:
Has America already become a dhimmi nation? Are the big American media afraid of the Islamists?What does he mean "already"? American reporters have previously toned down or omitted completely, elements of their reporting which may upset Islamists and preclude further interviews/footage/assistance:
Two days after the liberation of Baghdad, a senior news executive at CNN disclosed that his network had for years been sanitizing its reports from Iraq. In an op-ed column titled "The news we kept to ourselves," Jordan Eason confessed that CNN routinely chose not to report on the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein's regime. To have revealed the truth, he wrote, "would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff."It seems this type of intimidation is the norm rather than the exception in Palestinian areas as well and throws editorial integrity of Middle East reporting into complete doubt amidst the Mainstream Media as well as Indymedia who claim to counteract this but instead are even worse.
Suppressing news by threatening reporters with violence or death is one of the dirty little secrets of Middle East journalism. In his 1989 memoir "From Beirut to Jerusalem," Thomas Friedman wrote that "physical intimidation" was a major impediment to honest reporting from Beirut during the years when southern Lebanon was in the grip of Yasser Arafat's PLO.
"There were . . . stories which were deliberately ignored out of fear," Friedman admitted. "How many serious stories were written from Beirut about the well-known corruption in the PLO leadership. . . ? It would be hard to find any hint of them in Beirut reporting before the Israeli invasion." Instead of reporting what they knew, journalists censored themselves. "The Western press coddled the PLO," Friedman acknowledged. "For any Beirut-based correspondent, the name of the game was keeping on good terms with the PLO."
That was more than 20 years ago. Has anything changed?
I still haven't received a reply to my email from Paltalk.
Update 4: ABC News reports a different theory, that "the slain family's cousin has been a translator working for the prosecution in the trial of Lynne Stewart. She is the radical lawyer accused of smuggling messages from imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, to terrorist cell members and associates.". It should be noted however (and certainly isn't by ABC) that even if this new information is the motive, it is stil a textbook Islamic hate-crime. Naturally I'd love to critique New Jersey Indymedia's take on any of this, but they are far too busy reporting on more important issues like "Zionists" (for a change) to bother with such trivial local matters like this at all. Good work guys!
Update 5: It seems this isn't the first time New Jersey has seen Islam inspired murder.
New Jersey, USA police yesterday detained the husband of one of the three Guyanese women who were found brutally stabbed to death early Tuesday morning in their Lot 10 Fox Place home. One of the women's two sons made the grisly discovery which investigators say could have been a result of a domestic dispute fuelled by a religious row between the children's aunt and her husband.
According to reports yesterday in The Jersey Journal News and the New York Post, the victims were identified as Bernadette Seajatan, 49 and her two daughters, Sharon Yassin 30 and Marlyn Hassan 28, who was pregnant with twins at the time of her death.
Grieving relatives of the trio, including Donna and Bernadette's husband, Baldeo Seajatan, 51, said that Alim Hassan, a auto mechanic, had been engaged in a bitter, ongoing dispute with his wife over what religion they would raise the twins.
The entire family is Hindu, except for Alim, who's a devout Muslim, the relatives said. "They would fight [all the time] over what religion the children would be," the grieving Baldeo was quoted as saying adding thatAlim demanded that Marlyn convert to Islam and that "he got crazy over the last few months" over the issue of faith.
"They were three very beautiful women. This is terrible. I've never heard of anything like this happening on this block", a neighbour said.
I wonder if New Jersey locals will say they've never heard of anything like this now. It's worth noting however, the earlier instance is a case of Islamic 'honor killing' whereas this latter example may turn out to have Jihadi implications.
Update 6:For those wondering why Copts and Muslims don't get on, Copts.com says The victims:
were Coptic Christians, an Egyptian sect of Christianity especially hated by Muslims for their refusal to convert to Islam.
It remains to be seen how our news media will deal with this horrific slaying. Will this brutal and sensational crime receive as much coverage as the Laci Peterson murder? Will this terrorist attack be treated with the same awe and fascination as the Kobe Bryant case? Will we have 24/7 legal analysis, breaking news, interviews, investigations, magazine racks filled with pictures of the slain, an absolute media frenzy? Or, will this gruesome event be glossed over, whitewashed and quickly forgotten for reasons of political correctness?
I wonder the same thing...
Update 7: New Jersey Indymedia has finally made some mention of this by publishing a statement from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, ADCNJ.
Still no response from Paltalk. At this stage I doubt I'll receive one.
The Evening Standard has reported:
An internet company is under pressure to pull the plug on inflammatory broadcasts by an extremist London-based Muslim cleric.This will become interesting. On the one hand, Paltalk can claim (possibly quite correctly) that they have no control over the discussions or content of their servers. On the other hand, if they knew about it but did nothing, were they endorsing, supporting or facilitating terrorist activities?
Omar Bakri Mohammed makes live nightly appeals on the PalTalk site for his followers to support terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.
He claims Muslims have a duty to "hate" Western values, democracy and other religions including Christianity and Judaism.
I have previously reported of Indymedia's use of this defence to attempt to absolve themselves of any legal or moral responsibility for hate-speech they are fully aware of but do nothing about.
Update: Great article by Joel Mowbray entitled "Jersey Jihadists".
come on down here to north carolina, the islams hunting season just opened.
got my 308 locked and loaded.
All of these are true and well documented by Muslim historians.
Best case they will be held up as evidence of "extremists on both sides" despite the difference between posting online and slitting a man's throat.
Worst case, this blog will be added to the list of "far right, extremist, Islamophobic hate sites" and written off irrespective of the arguments presented therein.
My previous obeservations had resulted in email or comments branding me a neo-con, Zionist, Nazi (and bafflingly, a Jew in the same email), Mossad agent, CIA foil and liar, I'm not sure I can take any more.