(Edit: #TruthforSanBernardino If you too have questions and concerns about how the San Bernardino shooting has been investigated, please Like this page: @Truth and Justice San Bernardino: https://www.facebook.com/truthjusticesanbernardino/)
Condolences, prayers, and assistance for the affected families are a must, and as I have said, this tragedy has been particularly devastating for me. As it happens, I live 15 minutes away from the Inland Regional Center. Today, the local mayor and city council members were at the local masjid at jumu`a to show solidarity with the Muslim community. That kind of outreach is exactly what we need in these sad and confusing times and I was heartened by the warmth and concern from these officials and the pastor of one of the largest churches in the area, who also was in attendance. Alhamdulillah there are a lot of kindhearted, generous people in this country of ours, and we have to stand with them.
But, we need to do more. For once in our recent history, we have to have the courage to ask questions, to not reflexively accept the official account of this event. This time, things are different.
Unfortunately, the response from the Muslim community has been reactive. I understand that not everyone is in a position to raise questions and demand closer scrutiny. Obviously, we need some of our representatives in public positions to be diplomatic. But this time, there are much bigger things going on here and the same old script is obsolete.
It is not enough to denounce these acts. American Muslims have been denouncing terrorism continuously for years, so whoever hasn’t gotten the message by now is not going to ever get it. It is also not enough to provide a theological rebuttal to ISIS, et al. That has also already been done ad nauseam.
But this shooting changes everything. This shooting allegedly involved a newlywed couple who just recently had a baby go out and kill 14 co-workers, people they had been working with, in contact with, for at least 5 years. That is unprecedented. None of the 4 Islamist terror attacks on US soil (9/11, Fort Hood, Boston Marathon, “Draw Muhammad” Cartoon Contest) have targeted an average workplace in a small town. None of them involved an attack on fellow civilian co-workers. None of them were conducted by family men, living typical American lives. This shooting changes everything because now people can point to us and say, “Sure, they look like a typical happy American family, but so did the Farooks.”
What kind of theological rebuttal can counter that? What kind of “Islam means peace,” cliche can assuage that kind of suspicion? Not even those pieces of shit at ISIS say, “Abandon your children and go on a killing spree with your wife at the local center for mentally disabled children.” We might wonder why ISIS has not officially endorsed this massacre or claimed responsibility. Maybe it’s because, even in their perverse, murderous ideology, the mentally disabled are not legitimate targets. Maybe this massacre was too extreme for even them, such that it would hurt PR and recruitment to become known as the “jihad against the mentally challenged.”
Regardless, that’s what people will now believe Islam condones. I can hardly imagine anything that could be more dehumanizing.
And that’s why I believe that we must push back. We cannot readily and uncritically accept this story, not only because of what it means for us as citizens of this country and for our faith, but also because the story is so gobsmackingly implausible, so full of ambiguities and question marks. Now is not the time to obediently just go along with whatever the FBI tells us happened that day, with their convenient, Hollywood-esque narrative. Now is not the time to refer to Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife as terrorists just because the FBI, the media, and the public discourse has already tried and convicted them.
We have to ask questions. We have to demand evidence. We have to call bullshit when things don’t make sense. There is too much at stake.
Just step back and think about how they let journalists and camera crews into the apartment of the Farooks. Thankfully, seeing CNN and MSNBC reporters rummaging through a fresh crime scene has really turned on a light bulb for a lot of people.
If people were not suspicious of what we are being told about this case before, they are now. Because, have journalists ever gotten access to the residence of any mass shooter, literally 1 day after the shooting took place? When has this ever happened before? Does the FBI not think it important to preserve the scene for, I don’t know, a little more time, just in case some other evidence turns up? Apparently not.
And when they showed that baby’s crib, the toys, the baby books, the prayer rug, my heart sank. Those are items in every Muslim family’s house. All those things are in my house. They are showing the world that your Muslim neighbor who looks normal, has a wife and young children, who looks like he is living the American dream…he very well might be a terrorist biding his time, waiting for the right moment to extinguish your life.
That’s the message that was sent to the world today. And who knows if it was incompetence or deliberate maliciousness on the part of the FBI.
So no, I am not going to stand around and let the FBI spoon feed us what “really” happened at the Inland Regional Center. As they have proven, they are either incompetent or malicious or both.
For those who would rather look away and think that scrutinizing the official story is tantamount to conspiracy theorizing, frankly, get your head out of your ass. I know that in your world, whatever CNN reports from the FBI and government officials is sacred gospel, and anyone who is skeptical of that is immature and petulant, but I live in a different world. I live in the world of Laquan McDonald and the aggressive Chicago PD cover-up, in the world of the Iraq War and Saddam’s imaginary WMDs, the world of FBI Muslim entrapment, secret NYPD Muslim databases, and NSA bulk collection, i.e., things that were all believed to be nothing more than “conspiracies” in the not-too-distant past, things that the mainstream news did its best to hide from public scrutiny.
If you’re scared that asking questions will make you look anti-American and unpatriotic, guess what? That’s already what at least 40% of Americans think about you because of your religion. And this terrorist attack as it is being reported only stands to boost those numbers. If you want to remain respectable according to the status quo, fine, but do us all a favor and stop posting pictures of Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali on your social media profile accompanied by your sanctimonious paeans to justice and truth to power.
And no, asking questions and not taking worldly authority at its word is not anti-American. Should we be embarrassed to ask questions? Why is it so appalling to pause for one second, block out the noise, and ask, “Wait, does that make any sense?” I thought what made Western society and America in particular so superior was its valuing of free thought, rational inquiry, checks and balances, due process. Does that all go out the window for terrorist attacks? If anything, we should be more, not less, careful and meticulous about what we accept in times like this.
So yes, the investigation by the FBI should continue, but we should see what they see. The evidence that is being used to convict the Farook couple in the court of public opinion should be available for us to see as well because that evidence is also being used to convict us as Muslims collectively, no matter what polite assurances Obama and his department officials might say to the cameras.
In the spirit of asking questions, here are some that I would like to get answers to. If you are offended by these questions or think they are unnecessary, please take a moment to ask yourself why. If the case is as clear-cut as the media has been portraying it, that this Muslim mother and father went on a rampage, then all these questions should be easily answered or at the very least, answerable.
0. Where is the CCTV footage from the Inland Regional Center? As a facility for those with developmental disabilities, a facility that required card entry, there must be multiple cameras covering every entrance and throughout the common areas. Why has that not been released to the public or at least to the representatives of the Farook family?
1. Why are some witnesses saying they saw 3 male shooters, all tall, athletic-build, with fair complexion? Why is that account not being reported on by the news as being investigated? Is there no evidence of anyone else’s involvement in planning or carrying out this crime other than this couple’s? If not, is there any evidence being sought? If not, why not?
2. How is a 90 lb woman who recently gave birth and had no military training able to conduct what the surviving victims and eyewitnesses described as a highly tactical, sophisticated assault operation using heavy, military-grade arms?
3. Why do Farook’s coworkers say they saw no aggression or animosity from him in the 5 years working with him? How is that consistent with the psychological profile of a sociopath who could slaughter his co-workers in cold blood? Isn’t this highly unusual from a psychoanalytical perspective? If so, why aren’t any of the psychologists being interviewed on TV saying as much?
4. How did the police suspect Farook after the shooting? If a survivor or eyewitness was able to ID Farook through the mask that the shooters were wearing, where is the filed statement from said witness? What other statements did other survivors and eyewitnesses make?
5. After completing the shooting spree, why did the suspects go back to their residence only a couple of miles away? Did they not have an escape plan? Were they trying to retrieve something? Did they drop off an accomplice? Were they planning to lay low at their apartment and hope no one would notice their absence in the aftermath? How did no one at the apartment complex see them load all those weapons into their SUV earlier that morning?
6. Where did they rent the SUV from? Has the rental car attendee been questioned? What statement did he/she make?
7. If there was a high speed chase of the Farook’s rented SUV, where is the helicopter footage of that? News choppers were already in the sky at that time, but none of them produced footage of the actual chase and the shoot out. Only footage of the aftermath.
8. In one of the cell phone videos with footage of the chase we hear multiple gun shots. Is it standard procedure for police to engage in a gun battle with suspects during a high speed chase, especially when the police chase is happening in a residential neighborhood? How was the SUV finally stopped? Is it standard procedure to fire hundreds of rounds into a suspect’s vehicle after the vehicle has been stopped, again, in a residential area? Why would the suspects not surrender and instead engage in a gunfight with police if they were surrounded by police wielding all the heavy ammunition that ultimately decimated the SUV? If they had a death wish, why would they try to escape in the first place, as opposed to take hostages, make demands, or just shoot themselves?
9. Why did the attorney for the Farook family, David Chesley, mention that the suspects were handcuffed, face-down in the bed of a truck? Did he misspeak? If not, what was he referring to?
10. If this was a premeditated attack, why didn’t the Farooks leave behind a manifesto or any other indication of their purpose?
11. Why wasn’t the suspects’ residence heavily guarded afterwards? Why did the FBI allow media open access to their apartment? Is this standard procedure?
12. Where did the suspects buy their weapons and ammunition? 13. Early media statements mentioned that the FBI had been tracking individuals that Farook was in contact with. Are those individuals more or less dangerous than the suspects? Why are those individuals being tracked and what light does that shed on the alleged shooter’s motives?
I will edit this list with more questions as needed and any answers that come to light in the ongoing investigation. #TruthforSanBernardino