UNC Chancellor :"this could feel like terrorism especially if your'e standing in front of a jeep ...trying to kill you" but it's not
Both family and school deny terror motives
UNC Chancellor: Not School's Role To Call Attack Terrorism
"I agree, this could feel like terrorism, especially if you're standing in front of a Jeep that's heading toward you trying to kill you," Moeser said.
March 10, 2006 CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --
The chancellor of the University of North Carolina says it's not up to his administration to label the attack on campus last week that injured nine people. "The fact is, this is not the university's call," Chancellor James Moeser said Thursday in response to students who have asked school leaders to condemn the attack by a former Muslim student as a terrorist act. "The U.S. attorney will determine whether or not this is an act of terrorism." Mohammed Taheri-azar, a 22-year-old UNC graduate, has been charged with nine counts of attempted first-degree murder and nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury after racing through a crowded campus gathering spot in a rented Jeep Cherokee. No one was seriously injured.
Taheri-azar told police that he intended to kill people to avenge the treatment of Muslims around the world. He is being held at Central Prison in Raleigh with bond set at $5.5 million. A small group of students protesting Monday called for university administrators to condemn the act as terrorism. "The chancellor should be out here with us, to be frank," said Luke Farley, speaker of the school's Student Congress. Moeser said he understands how some students may believe they were the victims of a terrorist. "I agree, this could feel like terrorism, especially if you're standing in front of a Jeep that's heading toward you trying to kill you," Moeser said. "As we have investigated this, we've come more and more to the conclusion that this was one individual acting alone in a criminal act."
Moeser also said there was no way university officials could have anticipated the attack by Taheri-azar. "There never were noticeable signs" of a problem with Taheri-azar before his graduation last fall, he said. "He was a good student. He also was very much a loner." Moeser said certain "criminal minds" don't reveal themselves easily. "They don't raise red flags until they commit a crime," he said. The campus is safe, Moeser said, warning that students should be more concerned about traveling safely during spring break next week. Previous Stories:
UNC Hit-And-Run Suspect Refuses Legal RepresentationUPDATED: March 6, 2006 CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The man charged with plowing an SUV into a crowd of University of North Carolina students on Friday as part of a political protest refused legal representation during his initial court appearance Monday morning. Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, 23, is charged with nine counts each of attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. Taheri-azar, a December 2005 UNC graduate, was taken into custody Friday afternoon, shortly after an SUV plowed through "The Pit," a popular gathering spot on campus. He called police to surrender and then waited for officers about two miles from campus. » Listen To 911 Call
» Campus Divided Over Calling Incident 'Terrorism' Six people -- five students and a visiting scholar -- were treated for minor injuries at UNC Hospitals. Three other people declined treatment at the scene. The Pit is a sunken, brick-paved area surrounded by two libraries, a dining hall and the student union. It does not have any easy access points for vehicles and can't be reached without deliberation. In his call to Orange County 911, Taheri-azar said he drove into the crowd "to punish the U.S. government" for its activities abroad. During his court appearance Monday, he smiled and waved to the media and onlookers and told the judge he didn't need an attorney because Allah would judge him. But the judge assigned a public defender to the case anyway. In response to media questions, Taheri-azar said he had intended to kill people in the incident. He is being held on a $5.5 million bond at Central Prison. Orange County authorities said he would be safer in the maximum-security prison than in the county jail. Last month, Muslim students at UNC protested the publication in The Daily Tar Heel of an original cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad. Islam is interpreted to forbid any illustrations of Muhammad for fear they could lead to idolatry. The recent publication of a series of cartoons of Muhammad in European newspapers sparked violent protests in the Middle East and elsewhere. The Muslim Students Association, which was among the leading critics of the cartoon, said Teheri-azar had never been a member of the group and denounced him on its Web site.