This is a terribly sad story, and one that struck close to home for my students, and me, in 2008 and thereafter. I mentioned it in this 2015 article. In those days, I taught Reading Lolita In Tehran to my AP students. It’s a book about a female college teacher struggling with the oppression of the Iranian Islamic regime. When Amina and Sarah Said were murdered by their father in Dallas because they were becoming too westernized, my students began to see, in a very real way, how ideology can lead to the ultimate evil. I always thought Yaser Said likely fled to Egypt, and perhaps that’s so, but 12 years later, he was caught in Justin, a North Texas town, home of Justin boots, as Robert Spencer, head of Jihad Watch, explained at PJ Media:
Yaser Said, who brutally murdered his two teenage daughters in Texas on New Year’s Day 2008 in an apparent honor killing, has finally been caught after being on the run for twelve years. This horrifying case points up the reality that honor murder can happen even in Western countries. But immediately after Said’s tardy capture, the denial and obfuscation began.
Islam Said, a son of Yaser Said, was arrested with him. Apparently he was in hiding with his father who murdered his two sisters Amina and Sarah, although he doesn’t seem to have had anything to do with the killings. And according to the Dallas Morning News, Islam Said denies that the killings were honor murders or had anything to do with Islam. “It’s something else. Religion has nothing to do with it.”
Yet that raises the question of why Islam Said was with his father at all. If these weren’t honor killings, why would Islam Said go on the run with Yaser and help him hide for all these years? Why wouldn’t he have the normal human reaction of thinking that what his father had done in murdering his sisters was abhorrent, and turn his father in to authorities? Did Islam Said’s commitment to the religion of Islam override that natural human reaction and make him think that what his father had done was good and praiseworthy?
Why indeed. I have often written it is Muslims that follow their faith to the letter that are doing enormous damage in the world. Those that do not, that merely wish to live in peace with others, are not following the letter and intent of their faith. In Islam, women do not have the same value as men, and honor killing, which is common in Islamic societies, is not viewed with the same horror with which western societies view it. The oppression of women, and of the conscience, are primary themes of Reading Lolita in Tehran.
For despite media denial and obfuscation of the fact, honor killing is something that many Muslims believe to be good and in accord with their faith. According to Islamic law, ‘retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right.’ However, ‘not subject to retaliation’ is ‘a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring.’ (Reliance of the Traveller o1.1-2). In other words, someone who kills his child incurs no legal penalty under Islamic law. In this case the victims were the murderer’s daughters, victims to the culture of violence and intimidation that such laws help create.
That is why Muslims commit 91 percent of honor killings worldwide. The Palestinian Authority gives pardons or suspended sentences for honor murders. Iraqi women have asked for tougher sentences for Islamic honor murderers, who get off lightly now. Syria in 2009 scrapped a law limiting the length of sentences for honor killings, but ‘the new law says a man can still benefit from extenuating circumstances in crimes of passion or honour ‘provided he serves a prison term of no less than two years in the case of killing.’ And in 2003 the Jordanian Parliament voted down on Islamic grounds a provision designed to stiffen penalties for honor killings. Al-Jazeera reported that ‘Islamists and conservatives said the laws violated religious traditions and would destroy families and values.’
In 1998, the girls accused Said of sexually abusing them, and their mother swore in an affidavit that the allegations were true.
A judge in Hill County, south of Fort Worth, dropped the charges several months later when the girls recanted, saying they didn’t want to attend school in rural Covington and hoped to live with their grandmother.
But allegations that Said was controlling and quick to violence never went away.
One friend told The Dallas Morning News that Sarah said her father had threatened her older sister when he learned that she had a boyfriend, saying he’d put a bullet through Amina’s head.
Another friend said Amina came to school with welts on her body, and one time said her father had kicked her in the face after he found notes from a boyfriend.
Owens’ sister, Connie Moggio, told a reporter that Said once shot out Owens’ tires to prevent her from leaving their home.
On Christmas, just a week before the slayings, the sisters, their mother and their boyfriends fled the state after Said learned about the sisters’ relationships. They rented an apartment under another name in Tulsa but returned to Lewisville on New Year’s Eve.
‘What prompted her to go back home is beyond me,’ Moggio said of her sister.
Abused women often return to their abusers and cover for them.
Owens, who divorced Said in 2009 and had converted to Islam after her daughters’ deaths, said in 2011 that she didn’t know why Said had killed Amina and Sarah but that he thought they were overly Westernized.
‘He would say things like, ‘They’re becoming too American,’ she said.
At the time, she was still afraid of Said returning to kill her.
Yet now Patricia is playing dumb: ‘She had no idea where Said was, and, despite public speculation about a motive, she doesn’t know why the sisters were killed.’ We can only hope that police will not take her claim at face value, and thoroughly investigate whether Patricia had any role in Yaser being able to evade capture for twelve years.
That would be common for an abused woman, particularly one who converted to the faith of her abuser.
Irving Police Chief Jeff Spivey says ‘This man brutally murdered — shot to death — his two daughters in his taxi cab. What led him to do that, I think at this point to us, is irrelevant.’
One would like to think Texas lawmen would not be infected with political correctness. What led Said to cruelly murder his daughters is motive, which is always essential to understand in any criminal case, and particularly so in a murder in which religion provided the justification, the motive, for double murder. How can a prosecutor present a case to a jury with no idea of what motivated the killer?
We can only hope that in this case those who live by the Islamic sword, will die by the sword of western justice. We should also be aware that the threat of Islamism never goes away. Said’s beautiful daughters remain, forever, teenagers.