Washington State Mall Shooter May Not Be a Jihad Terrorist

He could be something even worse.

The evidence is scant that Arcan Cetin, a Muslim migrant from Turkey, murdered five people in Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington last Friday night in the name of jihad and Islam, but the evidence that does exist is striking. Amid his busy online activity, Cetin posted admiration for the Islamic State caliph al-Baghdadi and Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei and a call for Muslims to repeat “SubhanAllah” multiple times. 

It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which someone who did not have jihad sympathies would post anything positive about Baghdadi or Khamenei, but the problem in Cetin’s case is that these references come without any supporting context. Dahir Adan, who stabbed nine people in a mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota last week, had a sparse social media presence, but did take the time to list the Qur’an as his favorite book on his Facebook page. Cetin, who by contrast was all over social media, never speaks about Islam or jihad – except in the posts about Baghdadi and Khamenei, and the “SubhanAllah” post. 

And so NBC News reported that “when asked on Sunday whether they could rule out terrorism as a motive, Mount Vernon police Lt. Chris Cammock said no.” It couldn’t be ruled out, but there was no initial indication that Arcan Cetin was a hardcore true believer a la Orlando jihad mass murderer Omar Mateen, who called 911 in the midst of his massacre to declare his allegiance to the Islamic State and repeatedly proclaimed that his murders were for Allah.

But Cetin could be something even worse. CBS News reported that he “was described by those who knew him as ‘creepy’ and a ‘bully,’ and he had a handful of arrests for assaulting his stepfather, as well as a DUI.” He was “reportedly ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation in August 2015, and that was completed as of March 2016.” 

He scared at least one neighbor: “Amber Cathey, 21, lived in an apartment next to Cetin for the past three months and said she was so frightened by him that she complained to apartment management and kept a stun gun handy. Cathey said she blocked him on Snapchat after he sent her a photo of his crotch. ‘He was really creepy, rude and obnoxious,’ Cathey said.”

A high school classmate recalled that Cetin “was very hurtful towards girls. He would sexually harass them. And bully a lot of them.”

So Cetin had a history of violent, abusive behavior, and sexually harassed women. Not coincidentally, he comes from a cultural that sanctifies violent, abusive behavior, particularly toward women: “Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because Allah has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them” (Qur’an 4:34). The Qur’an also teaches that Infidel women can be lawfully taken for sexual use (cf. its allowance for a man to take “captives of the right hand,” 4:3, 4:24, 23:1-6, 33:50, 70:30). The Qur’an says: “O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (33:59) The implication there is that if women do not cover themselves adequately with their outer garments, they may be abused, and that such abuse would be justified.

Arcan Cetin may not have known or cared about any of those Qur’an passages. But he may have lived in an environment in which such attitudes were taken for granted. Ex-Muslim cartoonist Bosch Fawstin has recounted how, even growing up in a secular, non-observant Muslim household, anti-Semitism and misogyny were commonplace and taken for granted. Even though no one in the house was particularly devout, no one thought to question the bedrock assumptions that Jews were evil and women were inferior.

If that is the kind of household Arcan Cetin, another apparently secular Muslim, grew up in, he and people like him should concern authorities even more than people like Omar Mateen and the San Bernardino killers, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. Mateen, Farook and Malik were all devout and observant Muslims; Cetin, at least as far as we know right now, was not. When devout, observant Muslims who believe that the supreme being has ordered them to “kill them wherever you find them” (cf. Qur’an 2:191, 4:89, 9:5) end up doing so, it should surprise authorities who aren’t thoroughly sold out to politically correct fantasies. When, on the other hand, someone like Arcan Cetin goes jihad, his actions show that the violent jihad option is a live one even for the “moderate,” secularized Muslims upon which Western authorities are staking the future of the free world.

Arcan Cetin shows that even thoroughly assimilated Muslims who love video games and kidding around with non-Muslim friends on social media still retain a good many Islamic cultural attitudes that are incompatible with Western culture, and, at times of personal crisis, may pick up a rifle and start shooting.

This is a case that proponents of the massive Muslim migrant influx into the West should ponder. But they won’t.

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