***update: Taheri-azar’s 911 call: “It was really to punish the government of the United States for their actions around the world.”***
Mohammad Taheri-azar speaks:
A suspect who is accused of hitting students with a sport utility vehicle at the University of North Carolina made his first court appearance Monday.
Mohammad Taheri-azar, a 2005 UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, smiled and waved before his hearing Monday. Taheri-azar told the courtroom that he was “thankful for the opportunity to spread the will of Allah.”
As he left court, Taheri-Azar told reporters, “the truth is my lawyer.” When asked if he was trying to kill people, he said yes.
Taheri-Azar was appointed a public defender in court. A young woman believed to be Taheri-Azar’s sister did not comment on the case as she left to get into her car.
In court, Taheri-azar did not deny driving a rented silver Jeep Grand Cherokee into The Pit, a central area on the UNC-CH campus around noon Friday. Six people were taken to UNC Hospitals with non-critical injuries, and three people were treated at the scene.
Campus police said Taheri-azar, a 2005 UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, admitted to them Friday that he acted to “avenge the death of Muslims around the world.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also investigating the incident from Friday.
Can we call it terrorism yet?
Hat tip: Jon Sanders at The Locker Room.
Athena at Terrorism Unveiled, a UNC-Chapel Hill alumna, has exclusive background on Taheri-azar. An excerpt of her report:
After speaking with someone who knew Taheri-Azar, a little bit more interesting details come into view. The guy I spoke with said Taheri-azar pledged his fraternity, Sig Ep, and that the frat “blackballed” him, meaning kicked him out because he was such a recluse and antisocial. They referred to him as “Mo.”
He said that Taheri-azar was from a wealthy family, a frequent marijuana smoker and “most always high” and that he drank heavily as well. So much for being religiously pious.
My first conclusions were that it’s highly unlikely he’s related to any type of “cell.” First of all, his actions show that he’s a complete novice, that he had no operational funding, and that the attack was not well planned (although he did rent the Jeep from Enterprise). Further information continues to corroborate this.
Lone wolf actor – antisocial behavior
The guy I spoke with also said he seemed to have few friends and didn’t “fit-in” socially. From this and his actions, Taheri-azar fits well as a “lone wolf” actors that go out and try to do the “will of Allah.” Socially awkward and looking for something to legitimize themselves, to make them feel “worth” something—they turn to this type of behavior.
They find a purpose in a religious ideology because they are empty. He had money, he had an education (UNC graduate), he had a job (although it was at a local fast food restaurant–Jimmy John’s subs) he turned to this. Once again, this shows that it’s not necessarily poverty that drives people to take on these type of causes.
Mary Katherine Ham at Hugh Hewitt has comprehensive coverage of the story.
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