Skip to comments.Slaying of 4 may be tied to (Islamic) religious extremism (NJ Christian family had throats slit)
Posted on 01/16/2005 5:22:26 AM PST by dead
Islamic extremists may have murdered four members of a Coptic Orthodox family found bound, gagged and with their throats slit on Friday in their Jersey City home, a law-enforcement official familiar with the case said.
The official confirmed that Hudson County investigators, as well the FBI, were "knee-deep" in pulling computer records and were coming to terms with the possibility that the family may have been targeted for death because of exchanges about religion in an Internet chat room.
The official cautioned, though, that investigators have not ruled out other possibilities, such as a robbery gone awry.
Hossam Armanious, 47, Amal Garas, 37, and their daughters Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8, were found dead in their Oakland Avenue home early Friday after family members alerted police that nobody had heard from them in days.
First Assistant Hudson County Prosecutor Guy Gregory declined to discuss any details of the case, other than to confirm that police have ruled out a dispute the family had with a former tenant as a possible motive. He cautioned against speculating about the motive behind the murders.
"This is a very delicate investigation and one where we have spent hours at the scene collecting evidence and with the evidence collection complete, we're moving to bring in people that we feel need to be interviewed," Gregory said. "It's unfortunate that people are speculating."
But as the theory spread that revenge and religion were the driving forces behind one of the most heinous murders in the county's long history, fear enveloped the city's Coptic community.
Friends, relatives and co-worshippers of the devout family spent much of Saturday wondering how the seemingly upstanding Armanious family could fall victim to such a shockingly brutal crime. Several spoke of Hossam Armanious' participation in heated discussions about the Islamic faith on the Paltalk.com messenger service and threats he received for expressing his views about the religion.
Milad Garas, an uncle of Amal Garas, said Saturday that he was told investigators are probing whether the killings could have been prompted in part by the chat sessions. He also pointed to a passage in the Muslim holy book, the Quran, that details how enemies should be killed - bound and their throats slit, an assertion that drew a rebuttal from some Islamic scholars, but was supported by others.
A translation of passage 47:4 of the Quran reads in part: "Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers [in fight], smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly [on them]."
"There is a very wide range of interpretation of that, and it depends on where people are in the spectrum," said Frederick M. Denny, a professor of religious studies at the University of Colorado and author of more than a dozen books on Islam. "If they were going toward the extremist side, it could lead someone to believe it is justified. ... There are those that take that [passage] quite literally."
The close-knit Coptic community promised protests if the religious revenge theory proves accurate.
"If it turns out they were killed for religion, then we will [protest]," said Ayman Garas, Amal's younger brother. "We have to be patient, we can't do anything stupid. ... But it looks like it is religion, maybe."
The Armanious family moved to the United States from Egypt in part to escape religious persecution. Hossam Armanious had sensed a rise in anti-Christian extremism and wanted to make a better life for his family in America, Ayman Garas said.
"What I really want to know is: How?'' he said. "We just can't believe it at this point. Everything has passed like a dream."
The details of what may have been said in the chat sessions were not known Saturday night.
Fred Ayad, deacon of the couple's St. George Coptic Orthodox Church, said that the entire community was in a "panic" over the apparent targeting of the family, as well as the murders of a Coptic deacon in December and a Coptic cabdriver in late 2003.
Prosecutor Gregory said the conjecture about the murders is hampering his office's investigation, which he said has been exhaustive.
Copts are Egyptian Christians, a minority group of about 6 million in a nation of 60 million, and have been killed in religious rioting and during attacks on Christian churches by Islamic militants. Coptic leaders also say they lack representation in the Egyptian government and are treated like second-class citizens.
Over the past decade, Copts have increasingly immigrated to the United States. Currently, they number about 1 million in this country. Coptic Orthodox churches are scattered throughout the nation and, while there is no official count, Coptic Web sites list about 10 large congregations in New Jersey and about 20 in the tri-state area.
Islamic leaders said Saturday that the murders could not have been the work of someone inspired by the Quran.
"We are not a bloody people," said Ahmed Shedeed, director of the Islamic Center of Jersey City. "This is not from the Quran. This is not from Islam at all."
Shedeed, who is Egyptian, said his group recently co-founded a social service organization with local Coptic churches, called Egyptian Family.
"We are trying to get religious leaders from both communities to meet on a monthly basis to break the ice between the people," he said. "We meet as individuals, but as organizations we never have done such a thing. We are trying to show that Egyptians together can benefit."
Shedeed said that as part of that effort, he attended Christmas Eve services at St. George's this year.
Asked about passages in the Quran that may suggest murdering non-believers in a manner that resembles the family's deaths, he replied, "The Quran talks about people fighting in the battle of war. It's not talking about people who live next to you. ... This has nothing to do with our community at all."
"The Quran stands very firmly against taking human life," said noted Islamic author Zayn Kassam, chairwoman of the religious studies department of Pomona College in California. "If someone read a verse and used it to justify the killing of four people, I believe that person is unbalanced. ... There are very few Muslims who would support this sort of thing."
On Saturday, the family received mourners at the church, as friends left lighted candles and flowers in front of the home. Neighbors talked of an exhaustive police investigation, with a former Armanious tenant, Nelly Ramirez, saying police had questioned her, her son and her son's girlfriend.
Meanwhile, friends of Sylvia, a high school sophomore who would have turned 16 on Saturday, lingered in front of the house, alternately crying and laughing. They talked of an extremely gifted teen who recently won a trip to Italy from the National Honor Society for a series of essays she wrote on topics such as Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.
"She used to write all the time," said her friend Jankil Patel, 15. "She used to go to church all the time. ... She'd debate people in class and even had a religious tattoo on her [right wrist]."
"She had a lot of friends; she was very popular," said Jessica Cimino, 15, another friend. Cimino and the other girls said they plan to attend the family funeral on Monday and wear T-shirts bearing Sylvia's image to school on Tuesday.
Ayman and Milad Garad and other family members were allowed into the crime scene for the first time on Saturday morning to gather the needed paperwork for the cemetery. They left the home with a briefcase and several other items, including a tank with several small turtles inside.
Staff Writer Kathleen Carroll contributed to this story. E-mail: email@example.com
A proud Jewish Muslim ?!?!?..........What the hell you using for bait friend I ain't even gettin a nibble !!!
Bumping your post. Welcome to Free Republic, and GOD BLESS YOU!!!!
Seems they don't like the idea of mooohammit wallowing in pig crap for eternity.
The year 2029
* Ozone created by electric cars now killing millions in the seventh largest country in the world, Mexifornia formally known as California.
* Spotted Owl plague threatens northwestern United States crops and
* Baby conceived naturally . . . scientists stumped.
* Couple petitions court to reinstate heterosexual marriage.
* Last remaining Fundamentalist Muslim dies in the American Territory of
the STRONG Middle East (formerly known as Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon).
* Iran still closed off; physicists estimate it will take at least 10 more
years before radioactivity decreases to safe levels.
* France pleads for global help after being over taken by Jamaica.
* Castro finally dies at age 112; Cuban cigars can now be imported
legally, but President Chelsea Clinton has banned all smoking.
* George Z. Bush says he will run for President in 2036.
* Postal Services raises price of first class stamp to $17.89 and reduces
mail delivery to Wednesdays only.
* 85-year, $75.8 billion study: Diet and Exercise are the keys to weight
* Average weight of Americans drops to 250 lbs.
* Japanese scientists have created a camera with such a fast shutter
speed, they now can photograph a woman with her mouth shut.
* Massachusetts executes last remaining conservative.
* Supreme Court rules punishment of criminals violates their civil rights.
* Average height of NBA players now nine feet, seven inches.
* New federal law requires that all nail clippers, screwdrivers, fly
swatters and rolled-up newspapers must be registered by January 2036.
* Congress authorizes direct deposit of formerly illegal political
contributions to campaign accounts.
* IRS sets lowest tax rate at 75 percent.
And last but certainly not the least... (I love it)..
* Democrats still don't know how to use a voting machine.
THAT goes in a Word file!!
Update link 20 Jan 05:
So we have imported this:
Kerry and his friends believe that this is nothing more than nuisance crime.
An informed source close to the investigation of the murders of the Coptic family in New Jersey has given me some more information:
The police and prosecutor are "very scared" of this case. The Muslim community in Jersey City is putting enormous pressure on City Hall to softpedal the case. Says my source: "They [police and prosecutor] want this case to go away quickly because of that."
Both press and prosecutor are hampered by general ignorance of Islamic teaching on proselytizing and conversion, and of how jihadists operate.
Of course, my problem with the police and prosecutor's reaction is that if this really was a Sharia-inspired killing, they are opening the door to more of the same if they do not handle this case carefully and thoroughly.
My source went to the Armanious house after the murders. The house does not appear to be of a wealthy family, and does not stand out in the poor neighborhood where it is located; this makes it more difficult to sustain the notion that the primary motive was robbery. My source saw that there was no sign of forced entry.
There are indications that Sylvia, the 15-year-old, innocently let one of the perpetrators know where she lived.
Thanks for the ping.
I do not discount the evil of radical Islamists, but all those who call themselves Christians of any kind should remember the words of Jesus:
Matthew 5:43 You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
If you do not fight hate with love, you may find Jesus saying something else about you on judgment day: I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers! (Matthew 7:23).
Over and over again the New Testament reaffirms Jesus teaching about loving our enemies. This battle will not be won by hate. It is a spiritual battle and those who resort to hate rather than love show that they have been captured by the devil to do the devil's will, because the devil's goal is to get Christians to depart from the teaching of Jesus by hating their enemies.
Pray that the police may capture the perpetrators of this terrible crime and that the state will deal with them justly, but love the Muslims in your neighborhood. This is the way of Jesus.
A Christian pastor