Seattle Rampage Is a Case Of ‘Sudden Jihad Syndrome’

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The New York Sun

At about 4 p.m. on 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. Mr. Haq killed one woman, Pam Waechter, 58, an assistant director at the federation, and injured five others, one of whom was 17 weeks pregnant.

Eyewitnesses told the Seattle News that Mr. 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. Mr. Haq told a 911 dispatcher: “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 12 minutes later, Mr. 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 told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “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 Mr. Haq rampaged, I made this point to an audience of Jewish leaders, who seemed oblivious to my message. The president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, Robin Boehler, demonstrated how little my warnings penetrated when she told Ha’aretz of Mr. Haq’s assault, “We didn’t believe something like this could happen.”

Third, Mr. Haq is not someone who would arouse suspicions of jihad. His parents, Mian and Nahida, arrived in America 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 second in an essay contest sponsored by the U.S. 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.

Mr. Haq drank alcohol at a bar alone and joined social-networking Web sites. His rap sheet consisted of a pending lewd conduct charge for having unzipped his pants in March at a shopping mall and exposed 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, Mr. 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 anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist, anti-Christian, and anti-American incitement fed by Islamist mosques, schools, voluntary associations, and press and broadcast outlets. Leftist demonizing of Israel further contributes to the problem.

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

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

Mr. Pipes ( is director of the Middle East Forum and author of “Miniatures” (Transaction Publishers).

The New York Sun

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