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Haq brought two .45 caliber automatic pistols with him that day, along with a knife, and a hatred of Jews. “I am a Muslim American, angry at Israel,” Haq announced at the center’s offices. The killings that followed were not random. They were the purposeful work of a man whose goal was to kill as many Jews as possible in order to make a statement. The statement was made, but no one listened.
“I want these Jews to get out,” Naveed Haq could be heard saying on the 911 call. But it still took two trials to find him guilty, the first one ended in a hung jury. Recorded phone conversations were played for the jury where he described Pamela Waechter as an “Israeli collaborator” using language reminiscent of the BDS movement. “I did a very good thing. I did it for a good reason,” he told his mother.
But face to face with law enforcement, Haq fell back on the old moderate Muslim defense. “I sympathize with Muslims, you know. But I’m not an extremist,” he said. “I didn’t want to kill anybody.” During sentencing he assured the court, “I am not a man filled with hate.”
Muslim organizations rushed to offer the same denials disavowing Haq’s actions as having nothing to do with Islam, but they know quite well that there are countless Fatwas that justify them. How was Haq any different from the Mumbai terrorists who attacked the Chabad House there, or from Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Madouh who plotted to blow up a synagogue in Manhattan, or the Bronx bomb plotters who intended to attack the Riverdale Jewish Center or the Los Angeles Terror Plot which targeted synagogues by a group known as Jam’iyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh.
Is there some peculiar species of mental illness which causes Muslims, singly and in groups, to want to murder to Jews, or is it simply a matter of religion? Conclusions emerge through the study of patterns. Naveed Haq, celebrating Eid in Walla Walla, is one bright red point on a map that stretches across the country. New York. Los Angeles. And back to New York.
Jews, Christians, Hindus, there are so many targets. Times Square. A Christmas tree lighting. A plane full of passengers flying home for the holidays. And five years ago there were six women in an office waiting for their day to end.
There will be more. That is the one thing we can always be sure of. Evil does not go away. It does not go away if you call it mental illness or blame it on socioeconomic conditions or the temperature or foreign policy. As those women did in July or as thousands of New Yorkers did in September, sooner or later we all come face to face with evil. Not all of us survive.
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