Sudden Jihad Syndrome in Seattle

About 4PM on Friday, July 28, on the eve of the Jewish sabbath, a Muslim terrorist of Pakistani origins named Naveed Afzal Haq forced a 14-year-old girl to get him into the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle building by holding a gun to her back. He then pulled out the two large-caliber semi-automatic pistols he had just purchased and went on a murderous rampage. Haq killed one woman, Pam Waechter, 58, an assistant director at the federation, and injured five others, one of whom was 17 weeks pregnant.



Eye-witnesses report that Haq announced, “I'm a Muslim American; I'm angry at Israel,” and then began shooting; that he “told the police that it was a hostage situation and he wanted us to get our weapons out of Israel” and that he was upset about what was going on in Israel. To a 911 dispatcher, Haq announced: “I want these Jews to get out…. I'm upset at your foreign policy. These are Jews. I'm tired of getting pushed around, and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East…. I'm an American too but I just want our people out of Iraq.”

Some twelve minutes later, Haq, 30, quietly turned himself in to the police. Jailed without bail, he was charged with aggravated murder in the first degree.

This atrocity prompts several reflections.

First, law enforcement has, as is its wont, ignored what is self-evidently a case of radical Islamic terrorism. David Gomez of the FBI's Seattle office commented: “We believe…it's a lone individual acting out his antagonism. There's nothing to indicate that it's terrorism-related.” As in other cases, if the police cannot connect a terrorist to Al-Qaeda or some other group, he is deemed not a terrorist.

Second, Muslim hatred and violence toward Jews points to the golden age of American Jewry coming to an end. Ironically, in April 2002, in the very building where Haq rampaged, I made this point to an audience of Jewish leaders, who seemed oblivious to my message. Robin Boehler, Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle president, demonstrated how little my warnings penetrated when she said of Haq's assault, “We didn't believe something like this could happen.”

Third, Haq is not someone who would arouse suspicions of jihad. His parents, Mian and Nahida, arrived in the United States in the 1970s, where Naveed was born. His father worked at the Hanford nuclear site. While in high school, Naveed won a $250 award for finishing in second place in an essay contest sponsored by the US Institute of Peace. He graduated with honors in biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and earned a second degree, in electrical engineering, from Washington State University. He also studied at the University of Pennsylvania.

Haq drank alcohol at a bar alone and joined social-networking websites. His rap sheet consisted of a pending lewd conduct charge for having unzipped his pants in March at a shopping mall and exposing himself to young women. He has been in and out of courts to deal with such matters as traffic violations and unemployment benefits. Most surprising of all, he was baptized into the Word of Faith Church last December, but returned to Islam shortly thereafter.

Fourth, Haq's actions are a clear instance of “Sudden Jihad Syndrome,” whereby normal-appearing Muslims unpredictably become violent. His attack confirms my oft-repeated call for special scrutiny of Muslims. Because the identity of the next homicidal jihadi cannot be anticipated, Muslims generally need to come under heightened observation. I regret writing this as much as you dislike reading it, but it needs to be said and operated upon.

Fifth, sudden jihad syndrome never erupts in isolation, but results from a steady diet of antisemitic, anti-Zionist, anti-Christian, and anti-American incitement fed by Islamist mosques, schools, voluntary associations, and media. Leftist demonizing of Israel further contributes to the problem.

People who know Haq confirm this barrage of influences shaped his outlook. “Haq didn't like President Bush,” notes one person. Another says Haq “displayed a streak of anti-Semitism, sometimes making offhand comments about Jews.” He complained that “Jews run the media” and believed Jews control the US economy.

Blame for Haq's evil rampage falls on the executioner himself and on the Islamists and leftists who manipulated his confused mind and susceptible character.

Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and the author of several books, including Militant Islam Reaches America and In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power (Transaction Publishers), from which this column derives. You may visit his website by clicking here and purchase his books by clicking here.

(This article courtesy of the Middle East Forum.)

Daniel Pipes

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Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and the author of several books, including Militant Islam Reaches America and In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power (Transaction Publishers), from which this column derives.

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