Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Armanious Family Murdered in New Jersey: Islamic Hate Website Implicated

Hossam Armanious and wife Amal Garas
Murder Victims: Hossam Armanious and his wife Amal Garas

A New Jersey man originally from Egypt, Hossam Armanious, his wife, and his two daughters, age 15 and 8, were found brutally murdered in their Jersey City Heights home on Jan. 14th, 2005. Mr. Armanious was an Egyptian Christian who spent his spare time online speaking out against Muslim persecuation of Coptic Christians in Egypt. He had been threatened online for his criticism.

• The NY Post reported:

Armanious, an Egyptian Christian, was well known for expressing his Coptic beliefs and engaging in fiery back-and-forth with Muslims on the Web site paltalk.com....

The married father of two had recently been threatened by Muslim members of the Web site, said a fellow Copt and store clerk who uses the chat room.

"You'd better stop this bull---- or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you," was the threat, said the clerk, who was online at the time and saw the exchange.

Sylvia Armanious Monica Armanious

The FBI is assisting local law enforcement on the case. Robbery was not a motive. None of the family's jewelry was taken, including a $3,500 ring Amal was wearing at the time of her murder. The NY Post cont':
Armanious' fervor apparently rubbed off on his daughter, Sylvia — who would have turned 16 yesterday.

"She was very religious and very opinionated," said Jessica Cimino, 15, a fellow sophomore at Dickenson HS.

A family member who viewed photos of the bloodbath said Sylvia seemed to have taken the most savage punishment.

"When we saw the pictures, you could tell that they were hurt really, really bad in the face; especially Sylvia," said Milad Garas, the high-school sophomore's great-uncle.

The heartless killer not only slit Sylvia's throat, but also sliced a huge gash in her chest and stabbed her in the wrist, where she had a tattoo of a Coptic cross.

Also murdered were the wife, Amal Garas, 37, and the parents' other daughter, Monica, 8. Many people in the Jersey City/Coptic Christian community believe this crime was motivated by religious differences. The murders have received very little media attention in the New York area [until this afternoon].

• NorthJersey.com reported today:
The FBI is investigating a radical Islamic Web site that posted photos and information about people who use an Internet chat room frequented by a Jersey City man whose family was murdered Jan. 14.

The Web site, barsomyat.com [which currently appears have been taken down], contained detailed information about some users of the PalTalk.com chat service whom the site's members accuse of being outspoken critics of Islam, according to published reports.

An FBI spokesman confirmed Monday that federal investigators are probing whether the site -which is run by a Jordanian -played any role in the murders of Hossam Armanious, 47, his wife, Amal Garas, 37, and their daughters, Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8. The family was discovered bound and stabbed to death in their Jersey City Heights home.

update -- more information about the barsomyat.com website and the murder investigation:

WorldNetDaily.com reports:
Now, people close to the family have told researcher and author Robert Spencer that an eyewitness of the bodies at the funeral home says he clearly saw that each of the family members had not suffered "stab wounds to the throat," as the prosecutor's report states, but horizontal slits in their throats, along with two holes bored below the slits.

• The NY Sun article, "Christians on PalTalk Chat Service Tracked by Radical Islamic Web Site", by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross on Jan. 31, 2005 reported this about the Barsomyat.com website:
many barsomyat.com users expressed jubilation at the deaths[of the Armanious Family].

One user posted a photograph of Hossam Armanious and wrote, "This is a picture of the filthy dog, curser of Muhammad, and a photo of his filthy wife, curser of Muhammad. They got what they deserved for their actions in America."

In all, about 40 different discussion threads on barsomyat.com berate the Christians of PalTalk, and there are at least seven collections of photographs of PalTalk Christians. The barsomyat.com discussion threads seem to focus on Arabic-speaking Christians rather than those who speak English.

Barsomyat.com features not only photographs of the targeted Christians, but also attempts to track down their addresses. A post about a Christian man whose computer was apparently hacked to obtain his photograph includes the man's PalTalk name, his real name, and the city where he resides in Lebanon.

Another barsomyat.com entry outlines the relations (both blood and marital) between four Christians who are apparently PalTalk users, posts photographs of them, and then states, "We have postponed publishing this information because there is a lot more to be revealed when the time is right."

Even barsomyat.com's banner displays its hatred of Christians. The banner displays a crucifix crossed out by a violent red "X," and the main heading reads in Arabic, "Christians: Revealing the Truth Behind Our Belief."

Barsomyat.com Wrap-Up on Feb. 1, 2005, from the CounterTerrorism Blog and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross:
Yesterday I posted an article that I wrote for the New York Sun about a radical Islamic website, www.barsomyat.com. The website featured pictures and information about Christians who were particularly active in debating against Muslims on the internet chat service PalTalk. Barsomyat also included a number of explicit threats to the people it targeted.

A number of prominent blogs, including Michelle Malkin and Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch, picked up the story early in the day. Jihad Watch readers organized a campaign to e-mail the web hosting company to which barsomyat.com was registered, Minnesota-based VizaWeb Inc. As I suspected, it seems that VizaWeb was unaware of what was going on over at Barsomyat, and the radical website was shut down before 1:00 p.m. One of the owners of VizaWeb, Rick Mueller, stated, "We started hearing about this [Monday]. We took the site off-line as we look into the content. If what we are hearing is true, we will not put it back up. . . . We obviously do not support its content." It seems that Internet Haganah played a key role in getting the website pulled.

• America's Most Wanted (AMW.com) has picked up the case on their website today:

Armanious Family Killer [America's Most Wanted]
Tensions Run High at Funeral

Hossam, Amal, Sylvia and Monica were all laid to rest on the Monday after their death. The funerals were attended by hundreds in the community, including some of Hossam's Muslim neighbors. During the ceremonies, tensions flared, and grieving members of the coptic community loudly voiced their disapproval of the Muslim community, accusing them of being responsible for the family's death. Shouts were exchanged between members of the community. Police were called in to quiet the crowd. Despite the raised tensions, no violence was reported.

Since then, Hossam's family and the religious leaders have called for patience and calm.

The Armanious Family had immigrated to the United States from Luxor, Egypt, in 1997.

The Coptic Business Association of Jersey City has offered a $500,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

related links:
Source: Slayings resembled Islamist executions [WorldNetDaily.com, Feb. 1, 2005]
Feds eye Islamic Web site in Jersey City family slaying [Newsday, Feb. 1, 2005]
Web Site Eyed In Family Massacre Probe [1010Wins, Feb. 1, 2005]
Web site probed in family's deaths [NorthJersey.com (free sub. req.), Feb. 1, 2005]
'ISLAMIC HATE' EYED IN SLAYS [NY Post, Jan. 16, 2005]
4 Slain and the Media is Silent [faithfreedom.org]
Christian family butchered in NJ [FreeRepublic.com]
via: Family of Four Murdered in NJ After Father Receives Death Threats for Speaking Out Against Islam [Jawa Report]

updated: March 4, 2005

The Associated Press is reporting today:
Robbery, not religion, was the motive behind the savage slaying of a family of four in January, prosecutors said Friday.

Two paroled drug dealers who were deeply in debt were charged with four counts of murder and held on $10 million bail in the Jan. 11 killing of the Armanious family, Coptic Christians from Egypt who emigrated to the United States in 1997...

"I'd like to make one thing perfectly clear: The motive for these murders was robbery. This was a crime based on greed, the desperate need of money," Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said.

Edward McDonald, 25, who rented a second-floor apartment above the Armanious family, and an acquaintance, Hamilton Sanchez, 30, pleaded not guilty. Dressed in a gray fleece top and blue jeans, his hands cuffed behind his back, Sanchez began sobbing as he stood before a judge.

"I didn't kill nobody. I didn't kill nobody, man. I didn't kill nobody, people," Sanchez said, as he was led from the courtroom. McDonald, wearing a long-sleeved white shirt and black pants, stared at the floor during the hearing.

Armanious Family Killer
[America's Most Wanted]
Armanious case on "America's Most Wanted" TONIGHT [freerepublic.com, Feb. 19, 2005]
Armanious family murders remain unsolved, 'There are no suspects at the present time' [freerepublic.com, Feb. 20, 2005]
Robbery, not religion, motive in Jersey City family slaying [NY Daily News, Mar. 4, 2005]

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