Wednesday, August 30, 2006

See no evil:
Mainstream media whitewash another case
of Sudden Jihadi Syndrome

Since I've had such luck lately jumping to conclusions, I will go out on another limb this morning. Omeed A. Popal's hit-and-run assault on more than a dozen pedestrians and drivers in San Francisco yesterday was not, as the mainstream media would like us to believe, merely a mentally unstable man reacting to unspecified personal demons. It was an act of terrorism, specifically a case of what is becoming known in the blogosphere as Sudden Jihadi Syndrome. Now, I'm not suggesting that news outlets like the Associated Press should state this as fact, since it could turn out that Mr. Popal is a recent Evangelical Christian convert trying to run down people he thought might be gay or on their way to abortion clinics. But the AP managed to devote over 400 words to the incident without mentioning Islam or the resemblance of this attack to Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar's hit-and-run holy war at UNC Chapel Hill this past March.

Instead, AP's Julianna Barbassa desperately throws out a raft of alternate explanations:

The driver in a bloody hit-and-run spree that killed one man and injured more than a dozen people was mentally unstable ...

I think it's safe to say that anyone who decides one morning that it's a nice day to try to murder a dozen strangers is clearly mentally unstable. That doesn't obviate the necessity to determine if there was an underlying trigger or catalyst such as mosque attendance or involvement in a radical "prayer group." If Popal had been wrestled from his SUV wearing Doc Marten's and sporting a shaved pate, you can bet the AP would be tirelessly tracking down any links he might have to the Aryan Brotherhood or their ilk. Not so here. Just a lone wolf, loose cannon. DWC, "Driving While Crazy." Nothing to see here. Move along.

But there's more. Popal was ...

... feeling stress from a recent arranged marriage ...

Parents force him to choose a burka-bride, sight-unseen, and he mows down fourteen strangers, including at least one standing in front of the Jewish Cultural Center, a fact that Ms. Barbassa thought not worth including in her article. Maybe his folks were making him marry a Jew.

Authorities believe it began more than an hour earlier when his black Honda Pilot fatally struck a man in the East Bay area ...

"[H]is black Honda Pilot fatally struck a man"?! I hate it when my car does that. "Bad Honda Pilot! Bad SUV!"

I think the implication here is that we should consider that maybe Popal was fiddling with his iPod while on the way to volunteer at the Jewish Cultural Center, drifted onto the sidewalk, killed an innocent man, and then wigged out from guilt and remorse.

Popal's cousin said he had been having recurring nightmares about someone coming to kill him ...

Wait, that's been happening to me for about the last four years and three hundred fifty-three days. Where are my car keys?

His relatives also say he ...

... had been taking medication ...

Isn't everyone in San Francisco taking medication?

No weapons were found on the suspect, though the car had not been searched, Gittens said. There was no information on whether drugs or alcohol were involved, and it was unclear how fast he was driving, he said.

When are they planning on getting around to searching the car? And who really cares how fast he was driving? If you drive slowly over pedestrians, is that a mitigating factor in San Francisco?

Anyway, there's no use trying to figure out what pushed Popal to murder. Or so San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom tells us:

"These are the things, these are so senseless. They're utterly inexplicable. They're impossible to rationalize," Newsom said afterward. "The fact that this individual felt compelled for whatever reason to be determined to do what he did is beyond imagination."

I guess I've got a pretty active imagination, because Sudden Jihadi Syndrome sure looks real to me. And it goes back years (these accounts are in no particular order):

In February of 1997, Abu Ali Kamal shot 7 people on the observation deck of the Empire State Building before killing himself. One of his victims died, another was paralyzed for life. Kamal had in his pocket a note with the typical jihadi rationalizations.

In March of 1994, Radhid Baz took his guns to the Brooklyn Bridge and shot four Jewish teens on a schoolbus, killing one. Baz liked to hang out at the Islamic Center of Bay Ridge, but he said that had nothing to do with it. It was just road rage. You know, the school bus cut him off. I was in the city at that time, and I recall that the media actually tried to run with that explanation for a while, but New Yorkers aren't stupid.

In July of 2002, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet shot five people and stabbed one at the El Al counter at LAX. Two of his victims died. He was from Egypt and had moved to Irvine, California. I guess he couldn't find enough virulent anti-semitism in Egypt.

A year earlier, a young man named Paul Gott opened fire with a shotgun at an airport ticket counter in New Orleans, killing one. He was nuts, of course, but he was also a convert to Islam, was carrying a Koran in his bag, and said he did it because people made fun of his turban.

In October of 1999, Egypt Air Relief Flight Officer Gamil el-Batouty nose-dived the Boeing 767 under his control into the ocean off Nantucket, killing 216 people and himself. Instead of responding to the Captain's panicked questions of what he was doing, he repeated the phrase "Tawakilt ala Allah" ("I place my faith in Allah") over and over. I like to place my faith in competent pilots who don't belong to death cults. The media at the time said that el-Batouty may have been desponded over gambling losses.

And of course we have this past spring's SUV-jihad by Mohammed Taheri-azar, who rented a Jeep Cherokee and drove through a crowd of students at UNC Chapel Hill, injuring nine. And Naveed Afzal Haq's fatal attack on a Seattle Jewish center last month hasn't been pushed down the memory hole yet, though it's being labelled a "hate crime."

I could go on. Perhaps I will do a sidebar compendium of Sudden Jihad Syndrome attacks over the past few decades.

The question here is not what drives these homegrown jihadis to do what they do. The answer to that one is in the Koran and the hadith. The question that needs to be answered is this: Why are our media trying to obscure the threat we face from Islamic teaching and thinking? The desire for bloodshed? The supremacist, expansionist attitude exhibited even by many so-called "moderate" Muslims. The bald-faced misogyny. The rejection of the values and tolerance at the root of our culture? Whose side are the media on, anyway?


Anonymous pok said...

"Whose side are the media on, anyway?"

Take several slices of national self-loathing, sprinkle with the fear of being branded judgemental, baste with the notion that societies produce individuals, rather than the other way around, warm in a garden variety liberal arts college, and serve.

11:29 AM  

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