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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Parents taught Afghan-Muslim rampager that America is an 'evil society'

Stories in The San Jose Mercury News and The San Francisco Chronicle add some important details to the story of Omeed Popal, the Afghan-Muslim man who ran down 18 people with his SUV on Tuesday, but they also omit crucial information from their front page accounts. The Mercury's headline should have read:
'I'm a terrorist,' says Afghan-Muslim rampager
A witness report of Popal's claim to be a terrorist was related in an on-the-spot television segment on Tuesday, but no local newpaper has yet reported it.

The KTVU television segment next went on to relate the astounding police statement that "the case may have been many things, but it was not an act of terrorism." (The relevant part of the KTVU segment excerpted at LGF.)

Were the police denying the witness account? What information could they possibly have, immediately in the aftermath of the Popal's attacks, that would rule out any particular motive?

Anyone with any reportorial instincts at all would have to suspect that the police were pursuing an agenda independent of the facts. Since no newspapers have followed up this line of questioning, the clear implication is that they share the same agenda. They all presume that, no matter what the truth is, it is best if people believe that the attack was not a part of radical Islam's ongoing war against America.

The San Jose Mercury News ran its preferred narrative in its banner headline:
'Family drama' before rampage
Still, the Merc did unearth some valuable information. Omeed Popal's cousin, Hamid Nekrawesh, told Mercury News reporters that Omeed's parents tried to shield him from what they believed was America's "evil society":
...this is not a cultural thing, it was a personal thing. The parents believe it's an evil society.
He also suggested that Omeed's father's social life is limited to attending "some political and religious community events in Fremont".

This suggests pretty strongly that the parents are radical Islamists, and it may indicate that there is a radical Islamist element circulating in the public life of Fremont’s substantial Afghan community. Certainly it tends to corroborate Omeed Popal’s reported claim to be a terrorist.

The Chronicle apparently had access to the same remarks from Popal’s cousin, but edited them is a very misleading way:
At 29, Popal still lived with his parents in Fremont. His mother was especially sheltering, seeing the world as filled with "evil people" and trying to keep Popal from being harmed, said his cousin, Hamid Nekrawesh.
According to the Mercury News, it is not "the world" that Omeed's parents believed is full of "evil people," but America.

Still, as with the Mercury, the Chronicle also adds important detail:
"Since he was a little kid, they had been overly controlling of him," [Nerkawesh] said. "They tried to keep him away from evil situations, in their mind, and that had a negative effect on him. He just didn't have any friend or anyone to talk to except Mom and Dad."
The story then goes on to relate Omeed's history of incipient mental problems, and his anger at his family over having to wait to see his arranged-marriage wife.

This is all useful for compiling a data-base on the phenomenon that Daniel Pipes has labeled "sudden jihad syndrome."

Take a very controlling pair of Islamo-fascist parents, a dim-bulb child (Omeed drove to the airport in L.A. before realizing that he would need money to fly to Afghanistan to see his wife), add some confluence of personal anger and frustration, and bingo, the Islamo-fascist time-bomb goes on a mass-murder spree.

Questions for the SFPD
I have submitted the following set of questions to the SFPD for clarification:
1. Who issued the police statement, reported by KTVU television on Tuesday, claiming that Popal’s attacks were not terrorism?

2. Is the San Francisco Police Department contradicting the witness (reported in the same KTVU segment) who claimed to have heard Popal declare himself a terrorist?

3. Was this witness interviewed by police?

4. Presumably there were police officers in control of Popal when witness claims that Popal declared himself a terrorist. Have these officers contradicted the witness statement, or have they confirmed it?

5. Was the police statement denying that Popal is a terrorist issued on the authority of officers on the spot, or was it an official statement handed down from higher up?

6. What basis was there, in the immediate aftermath of Popal’s attacks, for rendering a judgment that the act was not terrorism?

7. In asserting that the attacks were not terrorism, was the San Francisco Police Department asserting that the attacks were not motivated by radical Islamic ideology?

8. Is it still the position of the SFPD that Popal’s attacks were not terrorism?
I will update with SFPD's response.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Googling Tyler Hicks

The NYT's caption for the Tyler Hicks Pieta photo that looks to have been staged:
After an Israeli airstrike destroyed a building in Tyre, Lebanon, yesterday, one man helped another who had fallen and was hurt.
If he had fallen, his hat would not be tucked under his arm. And why is he bracing with his legs while he holds his arm limp and pretends that he is unconscious, or dead?


I thought I'd see what I could find on Mr Hicks. Google's first listing for "Tyler Hicks" and "photo" is a piece from The BU Daily Free Press containing this revealing little snippet:
Although he said he strives for impartiality, Hicks’ photos admittedly did not favor the war.

“It’s just human nature,” Hicks said. “You are always going to form opinions.”

Although some may find his war photography disturbing, Hicks said the “gore doesn’t make a photo newsworthy,” but showing harsh images is important because “reality has to be spoon-fed to the people.”
Tyler Hicks thinks his job is to spoon-feed those opinions that he has formed.

Hicks talks about the difficulties of being accepted by the subjects of his photographs (who are often jihadists):
Capturing a private moment is not easy, especially when the subjects are not used to photographers, Hicks said.

“I do think about that and put myself in their position as much as I can,” he said.

He stressed the importance of cultivating relationships with people because that makes his job easier. And while working in a war zone, Hicks said he continues to pursue his work aggressively, but tries to stay away from foolishly dangerous situations.

“You get ambitious. You might want to prove yourself, but sometimes you have to step back,” he said, adding that he was “slapped around and kicked for taking pictures.”

However, he said he has enjoyed better luck than some other photographers.
Gee, I wonder why?

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin notes that the caption listed in the NYT's multi-media display is even more misleading:
The mayor of Tyre said that in the worst hit areas, bodies were still buried under the rubble, and he appealed to the Israelis to allow government authorities time to pull them out. (Photo Tyler Hicks The New York Times)

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