UPDATE: A couple of despicably dishonest bloggers with only a glancing acquaintance with the truth have linked to this post as evidence that I am "hoping" that the case will turn out to be a jihad killing after all. The fact of the matter is that I was merely reporting what I received from Coptic sources, and that I repeatedly explained that I was not sure it was true. This post is about questions that remain about the case; I am sure they will all be answered in time. Meanwhile, to claim on the basis of what is below that I am "hoping" for anything indicates nothing more than the contemptible biases of those who make the claim. More on this here.
Two suspects in the Armanious case have been arrested, and authorities are saying that religious hatred had nothing to do with the crimes -- it was just a robbery gone bad.
That's a relief. These arrests, of course, do nothing to mitigate the horror or heinousness of the crimes themselves, or to assuage the grief of the relatives of the victims. They do, however, seem to eliminate the possibility that these killings were an American version of the Theo van Gogh murder in Holland: a Sharia-prescribed killing in a non-Muslim country for what is a crime only under Islamic law.
CAIR-NJ President Magdy Mahmoud declared: "All those involved in the investigation of this brutal crime deserve praise for their diligence and for resisting efforts by hate-mongers from outside our state to use the tragedy as a way to damage interfaith relations."
Is that all it was? Hatemongers trying to stir up trouble and portray a robbery as something it wasn't? There is no doubt whatsoever that that is how the media elite will portray the weeks between the discovery of the bodies and the arrests of McDonald and Sanchez. But legitimate questions remain, and I am neither going to apologize or accept Mahmoud's "hatemonger" tag for asking them. I received information from Coptic sources, and I passed it on here; I never claimed that it was true, I only asked that it be investigated. There was no jumping to conclusions or misrepresentation of this case here.
Meanwhile, CAIR's record is consistent: no Muslim in the US has ever been justly arrested, but in this case the police's judgment is impeccable and must not be questioned. Their political slant is all that matters to CAIR.
I am sure that facts will come out at the trial that will explain some of the features of this case that make it appear not to have been a simple robbery. Some of these are:
1. Early reports stated that Hossam Armanious regularly engaged Muslims in discussion on the PalTalk website -- discussions that became so heated that one Muslim threatened him: "You'd better stop this bull---- or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you." This was reported in the New York Post and attributed to an eyewitness who saw the threat on the site at the time. What was done to investigate this threat?
Whatever the case, note that the report of this threat came not from "hatemongers outside the state," but from a Coptic Christian friend of Hossam Armanious.
2. If the motive was robbery, and the family killed to keep them from identifying the robbers, why did these two guys then promptly and repeatedly show their mugs to ATM cameras? Maybe they are irredeemably stupid -- certainly there is a lot of stupidity among petty criminals -- but it does at least raise eyebrows.
3. If the motive was robbery and the family presumably surprised McDonald and Sanchez by being at home, leading the pair to murder them, why were the murders done with such precision? Why was so much care taken to slit their throats in a uniform manner? Why wouldn't these guys simply have killed them in the quickest, easiest way possible? Maybe they knew their gun would be heard, but why use the knife on each victim in the same way?
4. Not long after the murders, I was contacted by a Coptic Christian who identified himself as a close friend of the Garas family (Hossam Armanious's wife's family). He claimed to have detailed information about the murders, and he gave it to me. His sources and his information appeared to be solidly based and at very least worth investigating. Some of it has been reported recently: a halal butcher whose daughter was converted to Christianity planned the murders for several months in revenge for the conversion. He fled the country shortly after the murders, but he planned them along with three others who are still in the country. The Copt gave me the names of all four, along with phone numbers and other details for two of them.
I had no idea whether or not the information I had been given was true, and I never claimed that it was. But it warranted investigation. I passed it on to the Hudson County Prosecutors Office. Neither I nor my source was contacted about any of this information for three weeks after I filed the initial report. The only time I spoke to an official there, he was unfailingly polite but unmistakably condescending and clearly believed nothing that I had to tell him. From what I understand the Copt who told me all this fared little better.
Meanwhile more information was coming from other sources, including but not limited to relatives and other close friends of the victims, that seemed to corroborate what I had already been told. When Edward DeFazio was asked about all this, he said not that he had received names but that they hadn't checked out, but that no one had given his office names. Why?
I happen to know that a reporter called one of these men and asked him what he thought of the killings. He began smoothly to speculate about robbery, drugs, etc. But when the reporter asked him about the possibility that it was a revenge killing for a religious conversion, his shock was palpable. His smooth veneer vanished and he suddenly began to sputter and search for words. Did this happen when the police questioned him? Did they question him at all? If not, was it because they had a presumption that this information was worthless on its face? If they did, on what did they base that presumption?
And one more time for Mr. Mahmoud: the information I got did not come from "hatemongers outside the state," but from several friends and relatives of the murdered family.
5. If the motive was simple robbery, what are we to believe about all this? That a Copt invented the story of the death threat, and that other Copts invented the story of the conversion and revenge plot? That it was just coincidental that a couple of lowlifes happened to murder this family in the same manner in which Muslims murder blasphemers and other enemies of Islam?
I hope Edward DeFazio will be courteous enough to answer. But considering that he recently forbade a reporter even to ask him about possible religious motivation for the killings, I won't be holding my breath.