Jeep Jihadist at UNC 'sorry there weren't more people to try and kill' rented SUV 'that could run over things and keep going'
Muslim student at UNC "attack just fun and games"
(CHAPEL HILL) -- The man accused of using an SUV to attack students at UNC told investigators he was, "Disappointed there were not more people around when he attacked."
Investigators say Mohammad Taheri-azar told them he had been thinking about some type of attack for two years but had been planning this specific action for two months.
He told investigators he rented the four wheel drive vehicle because it could, "Run over things and keep going."
The warrant also says Taheri-azar had two cans of pepper spray and a five-inch folding knife.
He told investigators he intended to use the weapons if he was trapped or threatened.
Nine people were injured when he drove his vehicle through The Pit on UNC's campus.
By MEILING AROUNNARATH, STAFF WRITERCHAPEL HILL -- Xhevahire Hyseni says Muslims in the United States are not feeling like they are part of their communities.
"People need to consider their actions before they do anything because it could hurt other Americans, because [Muslims] are Americans themselves," said the 23-year-old Albanian-American, a devout Muslim who lives in Chapel Hill.
In the past six months, four events at UNC have sparked dialogue about the Islamic faith, about terrorism, about violence and about prejudice.
On Friday, when Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar allegedly drove a rented SUV into nine people along UNC's Pit, the tensions already on campus heightened.
"In general, people are segregating Muslims with what's happening around the world -- like it's their fault, like they have a hand in what's been happening," said Hyseni, a 2005 UNC graduate. "It was he who did it. We didn't play a role in it. We had nothing to do with it. People can't seem to draw that line."
'Fun and games'
Hyseni also doesn't consider Taheri-azar a terrorist, as several campus groups claimed at a rally Monday morning.
"I think what he's saying is just words and to him it's all fun and games," she said, referring to what police say Taheri-azar told them: that he was acting to "avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world."
Charles Kurzman, an associate professor in sociology with interests in the Middle East, said students have been responding to last week's incident, and the other events this school year, very reasonably.
"I haven't noticed any increased hostility toward Iranians or Muslims at large. From what I hear, people see this as what it appears to be -- an isolated incident by a troubled individual," said Kurzman, who is also associate director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations.
"We're fortunate on this campus that we have several years' track record of dialogue -- of interfaith dialogue," he added.
Muslims watching Monday's rally had mixed feelings about when to respond.
"Initially, I was not really looking forward to this event," said Nashua Oraby, a 22-year-old senior from Raleigh. She was afraid those at the rally would conclude "Muslims are all terrorists."
Instead she said she was glad to see people talking. For Muslim students on campus, she added, now is the time to lay low and listen.
"When the time comes, we're going to come out and make a statement," Oraby said.
Her friend, Hannah Masoud, a 19-year-old sophomore from Burlington, disagreed.
"I think it's especially important to speak up now," Masoud said. "If you stay low, there are other people speaking up, so where's your voice?"
"[Taheri-azar] has nothing to do with our religion," she said. "Muslims, in general, should speak up and say this act, this violence, has nothing to do with our religion."
"This rally -- just standing around -- supports the notion that [Friday's incident] is terrorism," she added.