Muslim Honor Killings NOT “violent extremism,” according to Department of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security(DHS) does not consider Muslim Honor Killings to be a form of violent extremism. That is according to data contained in a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. The report enumerates “Violent Extremist Attacks in the United States that Resulted in Fatalities, September 12, 2001 through December 31, 2016.” The list of attacks is taken from the DHS sponsored U.S. Extremist Crimes Database (ECDB) — which catalogs politically and ideologically motivated killings in the United States in order help guide anti-terrorism policy. Yet, the list does not include a single Muslim Honor Killing. This despite a number of widely publicized Muslim Honor Killings during that period, not to mention a 2015 Department of Justice report which estimated that the number of such murders may be as high as 27 annually in the United States. By contrast, the database lists at least one honor killing by non-Muslims. So, DHS evidently considers honor killings to be a form of violent extremism, just not honor killings by Muslims.
Homeland Security’s U.S. Extremist Crime Database purports to list all “far right and radical Islamist attack[s] between September 12, 2001 and December 31, 2016” that resulted in fatalities. “Attackers with violent radical Islamist beliefs” were those that “showed a belief in violent extremist interpretations of Islam.”
An honor killing is the “the homicide of a family member due to the perpetrators’ belief that the victim has brought shame or dishonor upon the family, or has violated the principles of a community or a religion.”
January 1, 2008 Yasser Said, a cab driver from Egypt, allegedly shot his two daughters, Amina, 18, and Sarah Said, 17, in the back of his taxi because they were dating non-Muslim boys and embracing Western culture. Said has been a fugitive ever since.
July 6, 2008, Sandeela Kanwal was strangled by her Pakistani immigrant father outside Atlanta for failing to “be true to her religion” because she wanted to leave an arranged marriage.
October 20, 2009 Iraqi immigrant Faleh Almaleki murdered his daughter, Noor Almaleki, by running her over with his vehicle for becoming “too Westernized.”
February 12, 2009 Muzzammil Hassan beheaded his wife, Aasiya Hassan, at the Buffalo, N.Y., Muslim TV station where they worked for allegedly requesting a divorce. The Pakistani-born killer defended himself at trial, never denied his guilt and was convicted in 2011.
March 21, 2012 Iraqi immigrant Kassim Alhimidi killed his 32-year-old wife Shaima Alawadi, a mother of five. According to Fox 5 San Diego, “Alhimidi was upset that his wife wanted a divorce, killed her by hitting her at least six times in the head with a blunt object as she sat at a computer in their El Cajon home.”
In two separate incidents, 11 months apart, “Gelareh Bagherzadeh and Coty Beavers were both shot to death in 2012 for their relationship with Nesreen Irsan, a young Muslim woman who left her home and faith to marry Coty, a Christian. Nesreen’s father, Ali Irsan, was upset with her decision and decided to punish her by killing her husband and the woman he blamed for encouraging Nesreen to convert to Christianity.”
Killing a family member because they violated the principles of Islam may appear to a sane person as a “violent” and “extreme” interpretation of religion of peace. Yet, not one of these incidents appears on the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Extremist Crime Database list of “Radical Islamist Violent Extremist-Motivated Attacks that Resulted in Fatalities.”
In addition to those well-known cases, the Department of Justice estimates “between 23 and 27 honor killings occur annually in the United States.” That would be — on the low end — nearly 350 Muslim Honor Killings over the past 15 years. In other words, more violent extremist Islamist honor killings than from all other sources of violent extremism combined.
Homeland Security does have on the list of violent extremist killings one incident fitting the general description of an honor killing, albeit not by radical Islamists. A purported “far right” attack from the database: “Prison gang white supremacists murdered another [white] inmate for not objecting to having an African American cellmate.” In other words, they killed a member of their in-group for associating with someone outside the group. Change the killers and the victim from “white supremacists” to Muslims, and the crime would appear to fit closely the definition of an honor killing.
The issue of whether or not to label Muslim Honor Killings as “violent extremism” is more than an academic exercise. In 2016, Congress allocated more than $13 million for countering violent extremist. DHS uses the U.S. Extremist Crime Database to drive funding priorities for countering violent extremism. According to the Department of Justice, there are potentially more Muslim Honor Killings (350) as a killings from all other sources of violent extremism (225). Yet, these killings don’t factor into Homeland Security’s priorities at all. Instead, the “right-wing” extremists are considered by Homeland Security to have been the most deadly source of extremism in the United States since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
But things may be looking up under Trump. He signed an executive order in March calling for reporting on the number of honor killings carried out in the U.S. by “foreign nationals.”