Talal Nimer El-Haj, a Muslim from Lebanon, is facing attempted murder charges after he broke in to the home of his estranged wife, shot her, his 20 year old daughter and his daughter's 21-year-old boyfriend.
Talal Nimer El-Haj and family in Lebanon from Facebook page
He was arrested Friday night in the backyard of the home at 2606 East F.M. 495 shortly after the shootings, said Mission Police Chief Martin Garza.
"We received a call regarding an unwanted subject at the residence," Garza said. "Then we received a second call and heard shots had been fired. Responding officers found this individual trying to open a storage room in the backyard and arrested him. Inside the storage room, we found a rifle and a loaded semiautomatic handgun."
The officers who entered the residence found Nimer's daughter who had been shot in the neck, his wife who had been shot three times in the legs and the daughter's boyfriend who had been shot in the arm, the chief said.
El-Haj during his arraignment
Family members report that his wife had "thrown him out over a year ago" after El-Haj admitted to her he had had an affair. But this goes much deeper than just a "domestic dispute" which is how the Mission Police have classified this shooting.
As with any investigation, good law enforcement will take each and every occurrence in to account and will follow where the evidence leads them. But that does not seem to be the case here.
Talal Nimer El-Haj's own words to both the police as well as to the Judge during his arraignment make this a cut and dried case of an attempted "Honor Killing".
When asked why he did it [the shooting] he said he "didn't like that his daughter was dating someone that was not Muslim". He also told the Judge that his daughter's boyfriend "became the man of the house, I was outside the house for the last 12 months, I was thrown out."
He also stated to the Judge that "she [his daughter] start like answering back and doesn't want to listen to me and so on and going more with her mother and her mother gave her the freedom, defending her."
(Embedded video from news of arraignment)
According to the Mission Texas Chief of Police, Martin Garza, "His religious beliefs will not be taken in to account", they will be focusing on several other factors such as the pending divorce and statements by family members that El-Haj "had previously threatened to kill them".
So, let's use common sense here, I know, I do that all too often. Let's look at when other admitted "Honor Killings" have taken place and the admitted reasons behind them.
A female attempting to divorce a Muslim man.
A daughter not obeying or not listening to the father, becoming more Western. Disgracing the family by not following traditional Muslim values.
A daughter dating outside her Muslim faith.
A man feeling betrayed or losing control of being the man of the house.
I have written about this and spoken out on this subject extensively. From case after case after case, both here in the US as well as in other countries, "Honor Killings" continually occur for the above-mentioned reasons.
Noor Almaleki, 20 years old from Glendale, Arizona, run down by her father in his Jeep for failing to live by traditional Muslim values and refusing an arranged marriage, died November 2, 2009.
Sarah and Amina Said, 17 and 18 years old. Shot to death by their father New Year's Day, 2008 in Irving, Texas, because they were dating outside the Muslim Faith.
Aasiya Hassan, 37 years old, stabbed more than 40 times and beheaded on February 12, 2009, in Buffalo, NY, by her husband for filing for divorce.
So in the case of Talal Nimer El-Haj, there are three different reasons for his wanting to commit an "Honor Killing". There is not only the divorce issue, but the daughter was dating outside the Muslim faith against the father's rules, causing him to feel "betrayed" and "no longer the man of the house".
It is so blatantly obvious that this was an attempted "Honor Killing", for Chief Garza to say "His religious beliefs will not be taken in to account" is beyond appalling.
Yes, he was arrested for attempted murder and yes, that is what he should be charged with; however, to ignore the fact of the reasons and motives that caused this will be just another case of sweeping the issue of "Honor Killings" under the preverbal prayer rug.
While researching Talal Nimer El-Haj, I was surprised that no other reporter or media outlet had looked into the man himself. I actually found quite a bit of information out there starting with Facebook.
Talal Nimer El-Haj joined Facebook on June 17, 2009. In the 3 years he has had his Facebook account, he has posted only 14 times.
He lists his schooling as a Bachelor's degree in Art and sculpture, Architecture and Urban Design from University of Minnesota. A Master's degree in Architecture and Environmental Design from the University of Buffalo, New York. A Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in Architecture, with his thesis in Islamic Architecture and Urban Planning.
He has "notes" in his bio that state,
Israel will never accept to live with the Arab Christian and Muslim Palestinians, Israel wants all the land, they "THE ISRAELIS" are forcing the Palestinian to accept Israel as a Jewish State (Pure Racism) in order to kick the rest of Palestinians out. The power Israel has will not last foe ever... even America will not be the super power in 5 to 10 years from now. Balance, equal opportunity and fairness is what makes America great. Telling one side of the story most of the time, is an insult to your people and their intelligence, the ones who have something "wrong" to hide will hide the truth. Please America if you show an Israeli victim; please do not hide the ten Palestinian victims, sometimes 20, or 30. Once Begin -the Israeli Prime minister said, "for every Israeli killed, we kill eighty Palestinians" they said it not me...
These are the thoughts from a man who came to America from war torn Lebanon, went to university and received his BA, MA and Ph.D., was obviously making a very good living, judging by the photos on Facebook of his Car Collection. Rather narrow minded and ignorant for a Ph.D..
Interestingly, his last post was on June 11, 2012, just 4 days before the shooting. His last post gives us a good understanding of this individual's mindset and views. He links to an article in the "Palestinian" news and writes,
"He is a real leader."
The "real leader" whom he refers to is the murderer and terrorist Ahmed Saadat.
The article is titled "Secretary General of the Popular Front visits his family after 3 year ban". It is a story about Ahmed Saadat, the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP). The PLFP is the second largest group that forms the PLO, the largest is Fatah.
Saadat is currently serving a 30 prison term in Israel for heading (being the leader) of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an "illegal terrorist organization" and for his responsibility for all actions carried out by his organization, especially for the murder of Rehavam Ze'evi, the Israeli Minister of Tourism who was assassinated by the PLFP on October 17, 2001.
Well, I guess we don't all share the same views when it comes to what defines "a real leader", but I am sure that those of you reading this wouldn't place a murdering terrorist at the top of your "real leader" lists.
The issue I have with this case is what the Police Chief Martin Garza stated. "His religious beliefs will not be taken in to account". When someone in this country is murdered because of race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry, it gets classified as a "Hate Crime".
It is still considered murder and the defendant is still charged with murder. But it allows several other things to occur. The FBI website explains it as follows,
A hate crime is not a distinct federal offense. However, the federal government can and does investigate and prosecute crimes of bias as civil rights violations, which do fall under its jurisdiction. These efforts serve as a backstop for state and local authorities, which handle the vast majority of hate crime cases. A 1994 federal law also increased penalties for offenses proven to be hate crimes.
It goes on to explain that the FBI is involved with different aspects of hate crimes including the investigation,
The FBI is the sole investigative force for criminal violations of federal civil rights statutes.
After the investigation is complete if the FBI feels it is warranted, it then can become a Federal crime instead of just a local or state crime,
The FBI forwards completed reports to U.S. Attorneys and the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, which decide whether a federal prosecution is warranted. They may move forward, for example, if local authorities are unwilling or unable to prosecute a crime of bias.
If an investigation were to determine that Talal Nimer El-Haj attempted to murder his wife due to her wanting a divorce or wanting to murder his daughter for dating a non-Muslim or wanting to murder his daughter's boyfriend for dating his daughter, would divorce and dating whom you choose not fall under one's civil rights?
At the very top of the FBI website's "Hate Crime" page it states,
Investigating hate crime is the number one priority of our Civil Rights Program. Why? Not only because hate crime has a devastating impact on families and communities, but also because groups that preach hatred and intolerance plant the seeds of terrorism here in our country.
Well, I couldn't have said it better myself. "...groups that preach hatred and intolerance plant the seeds of terrorism here in our country". You don't say, maybe Mission Police Chief Garza needs to read that since his latest case of attempted murder falls into all those categories.
FamilySecurityMatters.orgContributing Editor Gadi Adelman is a freelance writer and lecturer on the history of terrorism and counterterrorism. He grew up in Israel, studying terrorism and Islam for 35 years after surviving a terrorist bomb in Jerusalem in which 7 children were killed. Since returning to the U. S., Gadi teaches and lectures to law enforcement agencies as well as high schools and colleges. He can be heard every Thursday night at 8PM est. on his own radio show "America Akbar" on Blog Talk Radio. He can be reached through his website gadiadelman.com.
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