Yaser Said: Abuser, Murderer, Extremist #CatchYaserNow

A photo of Yaser Abdel Said, age-progressed by the FBI in 2014
A photo of Yaser Abdel Said, age-progressed by the FBI in 2014

If you’ve followed me on Twitter, you know that the FBI has added Yaser Said (a.k.a. Yaser Abdel Said and Yaser Abdel Fattah Mohammad Said) to its list of the top ten most wanted fugitives, increasing the award for information leading to his capture from $20,000 to $100,000. Oak Farms Dairy has added another $10,000 to this reward through the Irving, Texas police department, making the total reward to date $110,000.

Background: Yaser Said murdered his daughters, Sarah and Amina, on January 1, 2008, in Texas. He has been at large since, and it is not unlikely that he remains in the United States. The murders are the subject of a new documentary, The Price of Honor, which I wrote about here.

Yesterday, I heard from one of the filmmakers behind The Price of Honor, who has uncovered photos of Yaser’s son (and brother of Sarah and Amina), Islam Said, as well as photos of at least some of Yaser Said’s weapons.

After his two sisters were murdered for being “too Westernized” and for having male friends, Islam Said said that they “got what they deserved,” because “they knew the rules.” Those of us familiar with the case continue to call for the indictment of Sarah and Amina’s mother, Patricia “Tissie” Said, and their brother Islam.

How does a brother support the brutal murder of his own sisters?

We have repeatedly been told that the Said family was and is not “extremist,” but all signs point to the contrary. Yaser and Patricia Said raised their children in a culture of abuse, violence, and disregard for human life and dignity. Yaser Said sexually, emotionally and physically abused his daughters with the full knowledge of their mother. Islam Said was taught that this was within Yaser’s rights as a man. This image of Islam Said will be released to the media soon, but is appearing here first courtesy of The Price of Honor:

Islam Said - Raquel Evita Saraswati
Islam Said

 

The above goes well beyond the bounds of good and innocent fun. Who poses their child like this, with a weapon?

This image shows Yaser Said’s early gun collection. He shot his daughters in the back of his taxi cab 7 years ago:

Yaser Said Weapons - Raquel Evita Saraswati
Yaser Said owns at least 4 guns

 

Yaser Said remains at large only because he has had help in hiding – and because of community ambivalence.

Please see Yaser Said’s listing on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list here ( and the poster here).

Yaser Said should be considered armed and extremely dangerous. He is said to carry a weapon with him at all times. Do not approach him.

If you believe you have seen Yaser Said, or if you have any information that might lead to his arrest, submit a tip online here, or call 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324).

Raquel Evita Saraswati Yaser Abdel Said Arabic

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The Price of Honor: documentary on the killings of Sarah and Amina Said

With filmmaker Xoel Pamos
With filmmaker Xoel Pamos

Sarah and Amina Said were murdered by their father, Yaser Abdel Said, in Texas on January 1, 2008. Yaser Said is still at large, and remains on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

If you’ve followed my work or heard me speak, you know that I care very much about this case and have done everything in my power to bring Yaser Said to justice.

I am immensely proud, then, to share with you what I believe to be the product of the most important work on this case to date: filmmakers Neena Nejad and Xoel Pamos have produced a stunning documentary, “The Price of Honor,” which brings to light the truth about the murder of Sarah and Amina Said – and the details will rattle you to your core.

I have had the pleasure of getting to know Neena and Xoel, and sharing with them a deep a commitment to keeping the memory of Sarah and Amina alive as well as to finding Yaser Said. Their tireless, brave, and incredible work has done more to resolve this case than anyone or any entity has.

Their film, The Price of Honor, will be released next month. Here is the trailer, which I encourage you to watch:

Below is the press release for the film, as well as the synopsis. Please feel free to distribute widely, and join us on Twitter using #CatchYaserNow.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Documentary on “Honor Killings” of Lewisville’s

Amina & Sarah Said Premieres Sept. 7 in Dallas

 

THE PRICE OF HONOR Film Aims to Bring the Alleged Murderer/Father to Justice

 

DALLAS, TEXAS – August 6, 2014 – The world premiere for “The Price of Honor” documentary film will take place at the Lakewood Theater in Dallas on Sunday, September 7, 2014, at 6:00 pm.

The film tells the story of Amina and Sarah Said, two teenage sisters from Lewisville, Texas, who were murdered by their own father Yaser Said in a so-called “honor killing” in Irving, Texas in 2008.

Directed by Neena Nejad and Xoel Pamos, “The Price of Honor” reveals new details and evidence about the case that have never before been made public, including a secret plan that Amina had to protect the love of her life, and a previous murder Yaser committed overseas that was covered up and never punished.

“Amina left behind a treasure trove of secrets critical to convicting her father of her murder that no one had explored until we started investigating,” says Pamos. “In her own words, through letters, emails and diary entries, she answered almost every question we had about this disturbing case.”

Yaser Said, who fled the crime scene, is still at large and remains on the FBI Most Wanted List. The film analyzes and discredits the theory of Yaser having fled to his native Egypt. “Our findings lead us to believe he is hiding in plain sight in the U.S.,” says Nejad.

The film is instrumental in a movement to bring this cold case back to the spotlight, increase the $30,000 reward that is currently being offered for tips leading to Yaser’s conviction, and bring awareness that “honor violence” has spread to the United States. The filmmakers also hope the exposure of law enforcement’s mismanagement of this case will raise the bar for how honor violence is handled by police in the U.S. henceforth.

An “honor killing” is the act in which a family member, usually a female, is murdered by another member, usually a male, for disobedience, promiscuity, being raped or other transgressions of cultural norms in the traditional societies of the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, North Africa and immigrant communities worldwide. They are called “honor killings” because the murder is an attempt to salvage the family honor that has been supposedly disgraced by the offending family member. An estimated 20,000 women and girls are victims of this practice every year. Many perpetrators get away with their crimes because of weak laws and strong traditions where these happen.

The world premiere event for “The Price of Honor” will feature the almost two-hour documentary film, followed by a Q&A session with the filmmakers, including Consulting Producer and Dallas native Amy Logan, and the appearance of some special guests who will discuss the film and honor violence in depth. Unlike other film premieres, the producers have decided to make it a public event, in consideration of friends of the sisters who would like to attend.

“We wanted to make sure that anybody who knew and cared about Amina and Sarah have the opportunity to be part of this event, said Producer Sogol Tehranizadeh. “I know it is painful to go back and remember, but we hope our film will bring them some closure.”

The film is anticipated to have distribution nationwide and will hit the most important film festivals.

Smart Lips Productions strives to create intimate films that leave viewers with a renewed sense of self, an increased awareness of important issues, and most of all, the inspiration to take action.

Tickets to the world premiere in Dallas may be purchased at: http://www.thepriceofhonorfilm.com

Press passes available under request: info@smartlipsproductions.com

For more information about this film visit:

Official website: http://www.thepriceofhonorfilm.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thepriceofhonor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tpohfilm

 

PRESS-KIT: Download a full press kit here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/q3kdp3lk8d4x2dg/TPOH%20Media%20Kit.zip

 

SYNOPSIS: The Price of Honor is a documentary film about the murders of Amina and Sarah Said, teenage sisters from Lewisville, Texas, who were killed in a premeditated “honor killing” in 2008. The film shows the lives of the sisters and the path to their eventual murders by their own father, Yaser Said, who fled the crime scene and remains on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.

 

The film reveals new details and uncovers evidence about the case that has never before been made public, including a previous murder committed by Yaser, and the ultimate sacrifice of Amina Said, who had a secret plan to protect the love of her life. Her words, through emails, letters and diary entries, become the voice of the film and change much of what has heretofore been assumed about this case. Despite the tragedy, viewers will learn of an incredible love story that still has life after death.

 

Friends, family members, experts and activists against “honor violence” emotionally guide viewers through the girls’ lives and deaths, in the process launching a movement to bring Yaser Said to justice. The Price of Honor discredits the prevailing theory that Yaser fled to his native Egypt after shooting his daughters, instead proposing that he is in hiding in the U.S.

 

The film’s additional mission is to bring awareness to this international issue of honor violence, expose law enforcement’s mismanagement of the Said case, and raise the bar for how honor violence is handled by police in the U.S. henceforth.

 

Bidding adieu to 2008 (and – inauguration day is coming!)

Change we can believe in. (Flickr / riverwatcher09)
Change we can believe in. (Flickr / riverwatcher09)

December 31, 2008 – a few hours before midnight,  I momentarily set my perpetually poor-performing laptop  down on the floor. Upon returning it to my lap, I am given nothing but the error message “operating system not found.”

Fluff post? It may sound that way.  The point is – 2008 was ending quite aptly: nothing sums it up better than “operating system not found.” In fact, technology references seem mighty appropriate for 2008 – someone get me a fire wire to rapidly send all useful data to a stable-state hard drive, please. Call in the geek squad for a full system restore.

2009 didn’t start much better. On a personal note, I began today by committing a major misfire in text-message communication.  In context, the message was innocent. Sent to the wrong person, less so.  Smooth, Saraswati. I’m blaming that snafu on the fog of sheer exhaustion I’ve been living in over the past few months.

On a global scale, we’re dealing with one of the least promising conflicts in human history. We are at a death toll of almost 400 – mainly Palestinian civilians.

Yesterday, January 1, marks the one-year anniversary of the deaths of Sarah and Amina Said. Honor killings take some 8,000+ lives per year. Read about the case of Afsaneh, a woman whose sentence – death by stoning – is being upheld despite opposition. We have seen an increase in honor killings in places like Pakistan.

Two women in Kuwait were attacked recently, allegedly for not wearing the hijab. “Morality police” in Iran, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere are stepping up their offensives against women.

The Taliban is threatening to blow up girls’ schools if they don’t shut down.

I could keep going – and the ladies at Muslimah Media Watch can provide you with links to even more stories like these.

As you can see, we have a lot of work to do in 2009 – and, despite the enormous magnitude of the problems presented in the stories above, we have reason to believe that women and men can continue to make change.

See these women, who are taking action to end the conflict in Gaza. Subservient? Submissive? Not a chance.

Salima Ebrahim, a Canadian of Kenyan descent, is confronting injustice and prejudice head on. Her mission of  “dignity for everyone” is one many big-time activists claim in order to get the big bucks – but few actually make human dignity a priority. It sounds like Salima’s voice is a sincere one. Congratulations to this up-and-coming sister!

A Saudi doctor was able to save two girls – one 5 years old, the other 11 – from forced marriage. Doctors like her deserve to be commended.

I hope you’ll join me in seeing the hope these last stories can provide. I’ll need your help to make a difference. Stay tuned to the links at right for organizations and people who are with us in the struggle for dignity, equity and justice for all.  Happy new year.

Too little, too late for Sarah and Amina Said

For months before their father allegedly murdered them, Sarah and Amina Said confided in their friends about the threats he had made against their lives. Classmates remember the girls showing up to school with “welts and bruises”, getting in trouble for talking to non-Muslim boys and for acting “too Western.”

Despite these signs of danger, no one intervened before the girls were found dead in their father’s taxicab in Texas. Shot to death on New Year’s Day, the girls had already tried escaping when their father threatened them with a firearm earlier.

In December of 2007, the girls and their mother temporarily fled when their father, Yaser Said, was enraged to find out that the girls had non-Muslim boyfriends. They were lured back home by promises that no harm would come to them upon their return.

Now, the FBI is calling the murders a possible case of a double “honor killing” – making the deaths of Sarah and Amina Said the first time the FBI has used the term. The FBI’s recognition of honor killings is significant in at least one respect: understanding “honor” could help law enforcement officials better identify the motivation behind slayings like these.

But how does this help Sarah and Amina Said? Theoretically, understanding honor killings would increase community sensitivity about the kinds of threats the Said sisters were experiencing.

Unfortunately for Sarah and Amina, this is a case of too little, too late. While I believe that it is crucial for law enforcement officials at every level to understand cultural motivations for murder, it seems that the issue here was not that their community didn’t understand honor killings. The issue, rather, was relativism in the face of obvious abuse.

I’ve often called out the Muslim community for not doing enough about honor killings. This time, however, I take issue with my fellow Americans. A Muslim man may be to blame for the killings of Sarah and Amina Said – but it is not just his hands that are bloodied now. Indeed, those who knew of the danger the girls were in are guilty as well.

The girls arrived at school with welts and bruises. Friends and family knew that when Sarah and Amina said their father was “going to kill” them – it was very likely that he was serious. The girls’ non-Muslim family members now champion themselves as knowing “all along” that the girls would eventually be murdered by their father, and that it would in fact be an honor killing.

Whose “culture” is to blame this time? Texas law requires anyone who suspects that a child is being abused to report the case to the Department of Family and Protective Services. This document, on display where the girls attended school, provides the contact information necessary to anonymously report cases of child abuse. Further, according to both Texas law and the school policy, anyone who fails to report a possible case of child abuse is committing a crime.

So, what gives? It seems that everyone knew that the girls were in danger. They weren’t isolated from extended family – including non-Muslim relatives who were concerned about their father’s violence and railed against his “culture”. Why didn’t these informed individuals stop at nothing to get the girls out of there? It can’t be possible that any reasonable individual would call this a “cultural” or “family issue” and step aside.

Unless, of course, they were engaging the very worst of American culture: relativism. It got the best of us when communities and authorities called domestic violence a “private matter” and when we waited to intervene in Bosnia. It makes us lazy cowards when it tells us that we have no place in the conversation about female genital mutilation, even when it happens on our own soil. And now it’s cost Sarah and Amina their lives.

Many are ready to make “other” cultures out to be evil, dangerous or scary. But if we can’t take action to assist those in danger right here – it is our attitudes and our inaction that are dangerous and even deadly.

It is too late for Sarah and Amina. But it needn’t be too late for other young women in danger – if we recognize and heed our responsibility to help them. We have every resource before us and no reason to remain silent.

Take action:

* Learn about the International Campaign Against Honour Killings

* Check out the resources available in your area. If you’re in Maryland, a new Muslim women’s shelter has just opened.

* Find the right person to call by seeing lists like this one, provided by the Feminist Majority Foundation.