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Militant Islam Monitor > Weblog > Salt Lake City law enforcement continues to deny Talovic shooting motive was jihad -calls it "suicide by cop" instead of martyrdom

Salt Lake City law enforcement continues to deny Talovic shooting motive was jihad -calls it "suicide by cop" instead of martyrdom

March 17, 2007

Salt Lake City police chief Chris Burbank continues to deny that the the shooting of five people in a Utah shopping mall by Bosnian Muslim Suljeman Talovic was a terrorist act of jihad and martyrdom. This, despite the fact that Talovic told his girlfriend the day before that it would be "the happiest day of his life" and about having had a vision of a "white horse" [a symbol of jihad and martyrdom].In an interview with the Deseret Morning News police chief Burbank agreed that Talovic had a "death wish" and said he "wanted to commit suicide by cop" when both are clear indications of Jihad.Yet the police and are about to close the case claiming that "the case will technically closed but detectives will still keep an open mind to any clues that lead them to a motive."

Translation: We will continue to deny that it is terrorism in order not to be accused of discrimination against Muslims and have to deal with the ensuring intimidation/and lawsuit threats by Muslim groups such as CAIR. We prefer not to alarm the populace lest our multi cultural harmony be disturbed when residents realise that the refugees they have welcomed into their midst are potential jihadist killers.

MIM: One observer has this to say on the press coverage of the event:

I am amazed that the media is so obsessed with portraying Talovic as some dreamy, visionary Muslim kid and no one pays attention to the dead he left behind," says Olivia Hill, an American from Texas.

"Salt Lake Tribune talks about his favorite color, favorite food, how he loved outdoors, fishing... and not a word on the dead and the pain these families are suffering and frankly, I am offended by this glorification of a killer... is it because he is a Muslim?" asks Hill. http://www.serbianna.com/news/2007/01302.shtml

MIM: In the Deseret Morning News article below the journalist apologetically writes "for Talovic was a Muslim" and makes it clear that he is only stating his religion in the the context of the claim he was said to have shouted "a religous utterance" at the police before he was gunned down purposely failing to mention that it was "Allahu Akhbar" the traditional jihadist cry of war and martyrdom.

[ Other articles stated that Talovic shouted "Die Motherf--kers" to the police (which is closer to the sound of Allahu Akhbar then "F--k you". MIM and other investigators who have listened to the tape have determined that he shouted either Allahu Akhbar or Die Motherf--ker" with the majority saying it "Allahu Akhbar"].

When pressed in the interview, Burbank revealed to the Deseret Morning News Talovic's final words to one of the officers before he died in the shootout with police: "F--- you." It was not, he said, a religious utterance as some have claimed (for Talovic was Muslim).

MIM: According to the Deseret News:

Sulejman Talovic may have had a death wish.
"Given his actions, I think he'd resigned himself to that fact," says Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank.
The chief acknowledged it is possible that Talovic wanted to commit "suicide by cop."
"I don't know," he sighed. "That's one of those things that may just rest with him."

MIM:The case of Theo van Gogh's killer, Mohammed Bouyeri shows that "suicide by cop" is martyrdom. After killing Van Gogh he had purposely tried to provoke a firefight with the police and had a martyrdom note in his pocket ready for the occasion.

*He [Bouyeri] was caught by police in a gun battle after he fled the scene of the crime spattered in van Gogh's blood. A note was found in his pocket saying that he wanted to become a martyr.

Speaking in Dutch with a Moroccan accent, he turned to police in the court and said: "I shot to kill and be killed. You cannot understand."

Some spectators rose to their feet, visibly stunned by his comments. The confession and lack of remorse highlight the worst fears haunting the mainstream Dutch society about the seemingly unbridgeable gap between them and some of the alienated Muslim youths growing up in the country.

Mr Bouyeri, 27, was a well-educated moderate Muslim who was considered reasonably well integrated, before becoming radicalised nearly two years ago. Prosecutors say that he had become dedicated to Holy War against the enemies of Islam and had murdered van Gogh to spread terror in the Netherlands http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/787

*Prosecutors have also said Bouyeri believed he was doing God's will and wanted to die a "martyr" at the hands of police. Bouyeri was injured in a gun battle with police before being arrested immediately after the murder. See:

"Trial begins in Amsterdam for terrorist who murdered Theo van Gogh : Killer wanted to die a martyr"


At the trial the police testified that they had been profoundly disturbed by the fact that Bouyeri had forced them to shoot him, with some of them demanding compensation for the mental anquish they had experienced as a result of the exchange of fire with Bouyeri.

Two senior policemen involved in the final shootout with Bouyeri appeared in court to ask for €3,000 (£2,060) compensation for emotional distress.

Insp Marcel Groenendaal and Brig J S de Ruyter said they had suffered loss of concentration and apathy since the gunfight. Bouyeri rolled his eyes at their testimony, apparently amused http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/780

[After nearly decapitating Theo van Gogh, Bouyeri calmly walked into the Oosterpark on the Linneausstraat where the killing took place, and provoked a firefight with police. He was wounded on the leg and two passersby were also injured by richocheting bullets.]

MIM: Instead of recognising the fact that the "suicide by cop" was martyrdom, Chief Burbank deliberately depicts the attack as a case of an unfortunate "kid" who was acting out. This is a dangerous denial of terrorism and an an injustice to the victims families.

It also prevents the policemen involved from getting the proper help they need. By regarding the shooting as one of having no choice then to use deadly force instead of an act of jihad ,the officers involved could be second guessing themselves as to if they could have acted differently,when in fact they were deliberately targetted for attack as infidels and were in a warfare situation.

The officers involved in the shooting have undergone many debriefings and met with counselors. While they are coming through it just fine, Burbank said it still has an impact.

"Our officers had to shoot and kill an 18-year-old kid to stop him from doing this," he said.


MIM: More disturbing is the fact that the Utah Police and FBI have stated that they regard the case as closed when something that Talovics father [himself a Bosnian Mujahideen fighter[ said provides more indication that the family has anti American sentiments. Suljo Talovics blamed the US government for allowing his son to buy the guns yet six weeksbefore the shootings Talevics two cousins had seen the weapons and ammunition used in the shooting. Instead of blaming the United States "authorities" why has Suljo Talovic not focussed his anger on the cousins who did not tell him? Which also raises the question as to if he himself was dissembling when the family declared they did not know that the son had guns. According to news reports the day after the shootings the gun box and holsters were removed by police from the family home. (For more on this see : http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/2726

The immigrant from Bosnia spoke in broken but eloquent English.
"I am very sorry for everybody who has died," he said. "I apologize for everybody. I'm so sorry."
He said he never saw the young man with a gun and doesn't know where he got the weapons.
"I need, I ask like, I need for my information: Who give him guns and bullets and everything?" he said.
The family on Wednesday arranged for their son's body to be picked up at a mortuary. It is to be sent to Bosnia for a funeral. The father will fly back to bury him, and the family is in need of donations.
"I feel sorry for everybody. I have no heartbeat. I am crying for everybody, not only for my son. For everybody!" Suljo Talovic said.
He repeatedly insisted that he had never seen his son with a gun. He said he did not know where his son got the weapons and ammunition.
"I think somebody's behind him, somebody's trailing him," he said.
Asked to explain what that meant, his sister, Ajka Omerovic, said, "He wants to tell you that he thinks there is somebody who push him to do that." Does he have any idea who? "No, really, no. We want to find out, just like you guys, all other people," she said.

MIM: One month after the killings Chief Burbank assured the Deseret Morning News readers that there's no jihad to see here folks -move on:

We seized everything we could under the premise that in similar circumstances there are things like videos, books, writings, those type of things," Burbank said. "We've kind of come up with a dead end on that portion."
Police and FBI agents are relying heavily on interviews to help them reach any conclusions. Burbank acknowledged even those are providing little new information.
"It is a little frustrating. You would think that if somebody is going to do something that drastic, there would be some significant tell-tale signs of why he would do what he did," he said.

At some point, the chief said investigators will draw every conclusion they're able to and release the results. While the case will be technically closed, Burbank said detectives will still keep an open mind to any clues that lead them to a motive.
"He is a young man that was obviously disturbed," Burbank said. "That's apparent by his actions."

Before that report is released there is still much to be gathered. Investigators are still questioning people and tracing the guns that Talovic used.
Police said the shotgun was purchased legally. The handgun was not.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is still trying to trace the handgun. ATF agents have told the Deseret Morning News it was initially purchased out of state and changed hands several times. Burbank said police are still running down leads, including looking into some tips that Talovic may have been seen at local shooting ranges.
Items detectives seized from Talovic's car and home have given them no answers.

MIM: Hopefully the police will include answers to the following questions in their report.

1) Why did the Talovics family deny they knew that the son had guns when a day after the shootings afte the police reported that they removed the box from the gun he purchased and holsters from the house?

Police told the Deseret Morning News the 12-gauge shotgun used by Talovic was purchased legally in Salt Lake City on Nov. 13, 2006 — five weeks after his birthday. Detectives would not say which store sold the 18-year-old Talovic the weapon.
Talovic's family has insisted they did not know he owned any guns. However, when police searched their home just after the shooting, they seized holsters for both the pistol and the shotgun.
Police also seized a videotape that belonged to Sulejman.
"They took the tape from the camera, but we don't know why," Talovic's aunt, Ajka Omerovic, told the Deseret Morning News, adding that she did not know what was on the tape
. http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,660197416,00.html

[Note that Talovic's cousin Amir Omerovic sent an anthrax terrrorism threat to a Senator's office in 2002 and how surprised an aunt with the same last name pretends to be that they seized a videotape belonging to her killer nephew ] http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/2772

How can law enforcement be certain the parents and siblings of Talovic who were living in the same house didnt know about the weapons since Sulejman had been thrown out of school for accessing AK 47 information websites on the computer?

KSL Newsradio learned today that when Suljemen was a student at Horizonte school he was discovered looking at prohibited websites that contained information about AK-47s. That's when his parents pulled him out of school. http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=900702

2) Why did Sulejo Talovics blame the United States government for allowing his son to purchase the gun? How did he get hold of the other one illegally?

Why does his father maintain that someone must have gotten the gun for his son if he purchased it legally?

If he referring to the gun which the police now say was not purchased but obtained legally how did he know a day after the shootings that someone had gotten a gun for his son?

Suljo Talovic said he would not make excuses for his son, but did not understand how a teenager could buy a gun in the United States.

"The authorities are guilty for not alerting us that he bought a gun. In the U.S., you cannot buy cigarettes if you are underaged, but you can buy a gun," he said.see:


3) Why no outrage on his part [or that of the public] over that fact that his nephews saw and handled the guns and ammunition in his the basement of his home six weeks before the shootings and that if they had alerted or someone the killings could have been prevented?

^While in his basement on Jan. 1, Talovic pulled out a 12-gauge shotgun, a .38-caliber revolver and ammunition, Muskic said.

"I was surprised," he [ Aldus Mustafic] said. But the cousins did not tell Talovic's parents what had happened.

Six weeks later, on Feb. 12, Talovic killed the five people and injured four others at the mall before police gunned him down. A motive still is unknown. http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/03/15/america/NA-GEN-US-Utah-Shooting.php

^The three relatives, Muskic and the two brothers Alis and Aldis Mustafic, did not believe that Talovic was in a gang. He took them to a wardrobe where the rifle and revolver were, to prove himself to them. It was those weapons that Talovic used on the 12th of February to kill five people, injure four, and to die himself in a shootout with the police.

I feel so powerful with a gun, said Talovich http://www.javno.com/en/world/clanak.php?id=26653

MIM: The father of Sulejman Talovic and former Mujahideen fighter at the gravesite of his son in the Bosnian "heimat". Suljo Talovic blamed the "the US authorities for not alerting " him" that his 18 year old son legally bought a gun -(and didnt mention the illegal handgun he owned) while failing to express any outrage over the fact that his two nephews had seen and handled the weapons used in the killings [ together with his son] six weeks before in the basement of his home and had failed to "alert" either him or "the authorities".

MIM: At the funeral Suljo Talovic said he very happy that non Muslims in Salt Lake City were so supportive of the family and vowed they would remain in Salt Lake City. He was doubtless also as pleased that like Mayor Rocky Anderson and Police Chief Chris Burbank, "other Americans didnt see a religious connection" to the jihad attack perpetrated by his son. His unctous "thank you to the non Muslim "guys" who helped him in SLC makes one wonder if is also planning to ask for their help to bring the remaining 300 family members over to Utah to so they can continue to celebrate his son's martyrdom.

Suljo Talovic said his wife, Sabira, was one of the women who fainted earlier during the service.

"She is not good (doing well)," he said. "She may need doctor, I don't know."

He expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support and concern for the family.

"Thank you, all in, like, Salt Lake and everybody in the United States," he said. To Bosnians and Americans who helped the family, he said, "I thank you guys. Thank you very much."

Later, Hasic translated when Suljo Talovic spoke in his native tongue: "He had more friends among Americans than he had before, because people understand the tragedy and what he's (enduring) right now."

Among those mentioned with gratitude were "the Mormons." He added that he "will never move from Salt Lake City."

Sulejmanovic commented, "I have read in the local newspapers that the people in America don't think this has any kind of religious connection or anything, and I was really happy when I saw that. http://deseretnews.com/dn/print/1,1442,660200547,00.html

MIM: Suljo Talovic has been one :"happy" guy since the jihad attack But has always made a point of mentioning his spouses fluctuating state of health since their son was killed by police after killing 5 people on what he said would be "the happiest day of his life".

Sulejo has alternately told the media that his wife was in the middle of having a heart attack, almost dead from a heart attack, in the hospital sick,very sick and 'almost die', bedridden, fainting and nearly fainting. After she fainted at the burial her better half helpfully opined "She may need a doctor -I don't know".

Two days ago he told the Deseret Morning News that everybody in the family except his wife was "almost sick". Which translated means they will hold off getting sick when they return from Bosnia and have access to free medical care in the United States.

My wife sick. My kids sick, everybody almost sick," he said. "Myself inside, I feeling bad. I broken heart." http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,660204115,00.html

Given that this shaheed's mother was recently at deaths door numerous times, it is nothing short of an Islamist wonder that she was able to make the trip to Bosnia ,for the burial let alone come back to Salt Lake City and move house as well. Her resilience in the face of such victimisation was surely the cause for more celebrations and shouts of Alhamdullilah accompanied by some hearty ululating.

A day after the killing family and friends brought over flowers and balloons to festoon Sulejman Talovics house in Salt Lake City's "LIttle Bosnia". His father spoke to the media surrounded by his fellow mosque goers:

After the services, a somber Suljo Talovic thanked the community for its support.
"I'm so happy for these people, Utah people," he told the Tribune. "They bring flowers to my door."

Friends and family view the body of Sulejman Talovic before funeral services Saturday in Talovici. The Bosnian village, where Sulejman lived as a child, was named after kin of the Talovic family. (Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News)

Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News

MIM: :Local boy makes good: Over 300 members of the Talovic clan came out to pay their last respects to martyr Sulejman Talovic.

TALOVICI, Bosnia — More than 300 people crowded around the open casket of Sulejman Talovic on Saturday as it sat in the yard in front of the house where he lived as a child.
A few kissed his face, others filmed with video cameras, a woman wailed with uncontrollable grief. Most simply walked past and took a last look at the youth whose violence and death shocked all. http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,660200547,00.html

MIM: Suljo's unctuous show of gratitude "to the guys in Salt Lake City" has paid off handsomely. A non Muslim provided $5.000 to pay for the funeral and a fund was set up for the family as well. Less then a month after the killings they moved into new digs too.

With such a happy former Mujahideen fighter for father no wonder that Suljeman thought the day of the mall massacre and his martyrdom would be "the happiest day of his life".

MIM: Talovic's remarks that the killings would be" The happiest day in his life" and his "white Horse" martyrdom revelation leave no doubt that he was planning his martyrdom to be "suicide by cop."

Facts are emerging that provide further evidence that Sulejman Talovics rampage at a Utah shopping mall killing five people was an act of Jihad.

A day before the murders Talovics told his 17year old Bosnian girlfriend with whom he had discussed marriage plans;

"Something is going to happen tomorrow that you'll never be able to forgive me about" In an interview with the Salt Lake Times she related that he said "It was supposed be the happiest day of his life and that it could only happen once in a lifetime." When she questioned him further about his statement he answered "It involves everyone and everything" adding "I would never in the world want something like that to happen to you."

She also recounted this story which provides further proof that his act was one of martyrdom and Jihad.

"Talovics told Monica a story about an important revelation he had in Bosnia;

"One evening, as the sun was falling, he heard a horse outside of his family' home in Bare, where they lived after they left Talovic.He walked out, and standing before him was a white horse ‘with two beautiful eyes'"

And he said ‘Look'and his aunt [who was also outside] couldn't see it there. It was at that moment that he knew he was a ‘good- souled person'. He thought of it as only ‘good souled people' can see happiness and she said."http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_5431036

According to the The West Point Combatting Terrorism Center's section on Islamic imagery.


The white horse is inextricably tied to conceptions of the prophet, martyrdom, and paradise (heaven). It is most often associated with the Prophet Muhammad's miraj or night journey to heaven, when the Prophet ascended to heaven on the back of a white horse. In this regard, the white horse most specifically evokes notions of the afterlife and the heavenly paradise awaiting pious Muslims (or jihadi martyrs) upon their death. White horses are also important in the Shiite tradition, in regards to their association with the aforementioned traditions and in regards to the Imam Husayn and his martyrdom at Karbala in the 7th century (where he is said to have ridden a white horse). Thus, in both Sunni and Shiite traditions, the white horse is strongly associated with martyrdom and the expectation of heavenly paradise.

In the images selected, the white horses are associated with images of individual jihadi martyrs. Used in this manner, the white horse evokes the righteousness of these individuals' martyrdom, and reminds the audience that these men have been granted the martyr's promised reward of ascension to heavenly paradise.


Talovics girlfriend said that he had a contact at the mosque:

"I don't know if he was his friend, but he liked to talk to him" she said. They only saw each other at services in the mosque. They only saw each other like three or four times."

Her statements contradict Talovics family's claims that his son didn't know anyone at the mosque.His father's continued insistence that someone put his son up to the killings, [while denying his son's had any friends at the mosque] may be an attempt to protect his fellow congregants at the Al Noor Masjid from law enforcement scrutiny.

Both Suljo and Sulejman Talovic attended the Al Noor Masjid, which is located near the shopping center he targetted] and his father said they went to the mosque Friday together.

A Bosnian english news report related that:

"At the funeral in his home town of Talovic, Bosnia his father Suljo told the press that he
"still does not know what went on in the mind of his son" when he decided to commit the crime, and that they "still think that there is someone behind this", but he have no idea who."

[Suljo Talovics also said that his son had only had religious teaching after he left public school years ago because he felt intimidated. This contradicts earlier media accounts that Talovics was not very religious and that he left school after his father made him go to work].

After the funeral in Bosnia Suljo Talovics told the media that ;

"I don't know if it was Bosnians or Americans who threatened him [at the school] with knives, but I would rather have the child removed from school than killed." adding that After leaving the school "he livened up and seemed free from fear."

MIM: The knife story with Sulejman as victim resulting in him leaving school for his own safety appears to be false -according to reports the Horizon school dismissed Sulejman because he was caught looking at websites for information about AK -47's. (see above)

Suljo Talovics statement is even more outrageous in light of the fact that his son Sulejman was the subject of criminal complaints in 2001 [at the time he would have been attending school] for swiping a knife at a 12 year old girl [throwing rocks at another] and threatening his landlord with a knife. In Bosnia a neighbor recounted how Talovics had attacked his two year old son with a snowball filled with glass, drawing blood.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Talovics family has been less then forthcoming about his level of Islamic observance and other details of his life.

Talovics family has recently moved form their house into a new apartment and still depict themselves as the hapless victims of the attacks perpetrated by their son.

Talovics mother and father and family denied their son owned any guns.


This is hardly credible for two reasons:

When police searched the home the day after the shooting they found the box and holsters for the guns which may not have been hidden at all.

Six weeks prior to the attack, two of Talovics cousins told the SLC Times that they had seen the shotgun and revolver in the basement of the family home, together with the backpack and ammunition used on the rampage and had passed the weapons between them. http://www.sltrib.com/ci_5439745

Talovic's statement to his girlfriend/financee a day before the massacre that "tomorrow would be the happiest day of his life-that only happened once in a lifetime " and his revelation about seeing a "white horse with beautiful eyes" as a sign that he had "a beautiful soul" points indisputably to martyrdom.

The shootings at the Trolley Square Mall were an act of Islamist terrorism. Attempts to deny this are endangering citizens further and pose a threat to homeland security.

In an article "Sudden Jihad Syndrome" [In North Carolina] Dr. Daniel Pipes wrote this about Reza Tahrieri -azar, the Muslim student at the University of North Caroline who attempted to mow down his fellow students with an SUV.

" No one who him said a bad word about him…which raises the obvious question: Why would a regular person try to kill a random assortment of students?"

In brief, Mr.Tahieri –azar represents the ultimate Islamist nightmare a seemingly well-adjusted Muslim whose religion inspires him out of the blue, to murder non Muslims". http://www.danielpipes.org/article/3450

One of the reasons Tahieri-azar gave for the attacks he said he "acted to avenge the deaths of Muslim around the world". [It should be noted he came to the United States at age 2 . Ta;pvics came to America at age 4]

Several family and friends of Talovics and Islamist websites, say he might have been motivated to kill shoppers at the Utah mall because "of what happened to his family in Bosnia."

When a reporter from the Deseret News asked Talovics girlfriend if he was thinking of becoming a martyr for the Muslim religion, she replied;

"I don't think so. He never mentioned he had guns and never seemed violent" he was actually a happy nice person." During the last talk "he was actually pretty happy" besides talking about his expected happiness the next day "he talked about a sister he dearly loved, who was his best friend, he did not seem angry or filled with concern."

Based on these facts law enforcement must consider that Talovics act was one of Jihad and start to treat it as a terrorism case.

The SLT article also reported that Talovics favorite film was the 1993 movie about Malcolm X ,

The black leader who started his career in the Nation of Islam and called upon his followers to kill white people and take power in America "by any means necessary" .He was gunned down at a speaking event by by rivals from a black militant group,

The Talovic family and the Bosnian/Muslim community have been caught out lying to the media and it is possible that they may have withheld or are still witholding vital information from law enforcement. http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/2726

Why is Talovic's father so adamant that someone put his son up to this?

The decision to bury their son in Bosnian shows that they have extensive familial, and Islamic ties abroad.

One Serbian english publication wrote the Talovics was given a hero's funeral in his hometown/

The public must demand a full inquiry, starting with an investigation into the Al Noor Mosque the Talovics attended, the "friend" with whom Talovics had contact there, and into what kind of religious training Talovic received when he left the public schools

.The family's ties in Bosnia also warrant a separate international investigation as do the Jihadi websites which an investigator reported received a lot of traffic from Utah based Muslims.

If Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and Police Chief Chris Burbank are really concerned with serving the public interest they would be spending less time showing solicitude and solidarity with the Muslim and Bosnian communities, and more time trying to ascertain if there are more Sulejman Talovics among them. http://www.theeagle.com/stories/021607/nation_20070216005.php


Trolley Shooting: Even to the girl he loved, Talovic a mystery to the end

A final conversation's unanswered questions

By Lisa Rosetta and Russ Rizzo
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune

Article Last Updated:03/14/2007 02:44:16 PM MDT


AMARILLO, Texas - It was going to be the happiest day of Sulejman Talovic's life. On the night of Feb. 11, Talovic talked to his girlfriend, Monika, for hours on the phone. " 'Something is going to happen tomorrow that you'll never be able to forgive me about,' " the 17-year-old remembers Talovic saying. "He said it was supposed to be the happiest day of his life and that it could only happen once in a lifetime."
Monika pressed for details. "It involves everyone and everything," he said, except for her - he loved her too much. "I would never in the world want something like that to happen to you." At 10:44 p.m., Talovic hung up in Salt Lake City, telling Monika to sleep well. It would be the last time she heard the 18-year-old's voice. The two, both Bosnian refugees, had never met in person. On Feb. 13, around 2:30 p.m., an FBI agent calling numbers on Talovic's cell phone revealed the secret.
Talovic, the agent told Monika, had walked into Trolley Square mall the day before, carrying a shotgun, a .38-caliber pistol and a backpack full of ammunition. He had opened fire on nine people, killing five, before police killed him.
"I fell to the floor. I couldn't feel anything," Monika said. "I couldn't feel anything."
A month after the shooting, Suljo Talovic is no closer to understanding why the son he saw as shy and sweet boy became a murderer.
Two days after returning to Utah from the family's hometown of Talovici, Bosnia, where he laid his only son to rest, Suljo Talovic's unshaven face was pale and worn.
His wife, Sabira, is ill and has been in and out of emergency rooms. Saddened by any reminder of their son - his bedroom, his belongings - the Talovics have moved out of their west side home and are sleeping on the floor of a small, empty downtown apartment.
Their three daughters are having nightmares.
"We were best friends," said 14-year-old Medina, Talovic's oldest sister, as she hugged her knees and sobbed on the floor of her aunt Musa Smajlovic's apartment.
While federal and local investigators probe how Talovic obtained the .38-caliber revolver he used, Salt Lake City police are exploring how and why the shootings occurred for an eventual report to the community.
Chilling tapes of 911 calls released March 1 revealed the details of terrified shoppers and store employees hiding in kitchens, cramped closets, stairwells, storage rooms and freezers as Talovic walked through the mall, firing.
Left dead were Kirsten Hinckley, 15; Vanessa Quinn, 29; Teresa Ellis, 29; Brad Frantz, 24, and Jeffrey Walker, 52.
Carolyn Tuft, Hinckley's 44-year-old mother, and Walker's son, Alan "A.J." Walker, 16, were seriously injured. Survivor Stacy Hanson, 50, is paralyzed; Shawn Munns, 34, was left with scores of pellets in his body.
The Talovic family cannot comprehend why the rampage happened, Smajlovic said.
They pray for answers.

'It was easier to talk
to him'
Talovic first called Monika's small Amarillo home on Jan. 28. The teens, both Bosnian refugees who spent the early years of their childhood running from Serbian soldiers, were paired up by their uncles, longtime friends.
Monika's mother remembers the first time Talovic called.
"He's shy, he's talking slowly," she said. She offered to take his phone number. "He says, 'No, no thank you ma'am, I call her back.' "
Later that day, Monika and Talovic spoke for the first time. She says Talovic began to warm up to her and was happy, always cracking jokes. He called her "Mimi." She called him "Teddy Bear."
By Feb. 11, the two had burned through nearly 1,700 cell phone minutes - more than 28 hours.
"It was way easier to talk to him than just some person," Monika said. "I don't understand why, but it was easier to talk to him than my Mom sometimes."
Both had dropped out of school, Talovic from Horizonte High School in Salt Lake City, Monika from Cap Rock High School in Amarillo. She is now being home schooled and expects to receive her diploma in November.
Talovic told Monika he had few friends - he spoke of two he met at the construction site where he once worked with his father, and one from a mosque. He rolled mats on an assembly line at Aramark Uniform Services. Monika works at Burger King, her paychecks supplementing her mother's minimum-wage income.
Monika's mother and father separated after fleeing to the United States, victims of the stress and depression caused by the war, the mother said.

'Take every day seriously'
Talovic's favorite color, Monika discovered, was turquoise; his favorite food, macaroni and cheese. He loved the outdoors and fishing with his father. He was listening to Korn, though which album, Monika isn't sure.
And then there were those things he didn't talk about: Guns. Politics. Religion. What he did at night after work.
Early in their conversations, Monika said, Talovic discussed death. He stressed the importance of living each day to its fullest. At the time, she didn't assign any meaning to it.
"I think of it as truth. Life is short. You never know when you're going to die," she said. "You should take every day seriously."
Talovic, police later discovered, had already legally purchased a 12-gauge shotgun in November at an area sporting goods store.
The teens daydreamed aloud about getting married. Talovic wanted to honeymoon in Tampa, Fla., Monika said; to someday settle down in Kentucky where he has relatives. Maybe have a son of his own. He hoped to someday buy a cabin in Bosnia, a place where he and his new wife could vacation.
They had shared their memories of Bosnia, Monika alone in her bedroom in Amarillo - in a remodeled garage - and Talovic alone in his basement bedroom in Salt Lake City.

Haunting memories
Talovic was about 5 years old in the early 1990s, when Serbian forces overran Talovici.
Monika said Talovic described hiding in the woods over a period of three years, lying face down in the dirt to avoid watching as Serbs decapitated countrymen nearby. He told Monika of seeing people shot in the head or stomach. He did witness killings, his aunt said.
Talovic recalled his hunger pains, surviving on wild mushrooms and droplets of water that collected on leaves, Monika said.
"He was mad because when he didn't have a place of their own, they had to live in the forest. He used to be mad when he was a little kid, but said he got over that," she said.
Talovic once spoke of a clinic in their village where the wounded and dead were taken, Smajlovic said. He "remembered there was a little ambulance there," Smajlovic said. The aunt recalls hiding with the Talovic family in the woods. Eventually, the family left, walking hundreds of miles toward a free zone in Tuzla. On the way, they slept on the floor of schoolhouses without blankets. Talovic's grandfather was fatally shot. An infant brother and sister died.
"They didn't have food, they didn't have shelter, it was every man for his own," said Smajlovic. "It was horrible. They spent their time looking for food, a piece of bread. There was no time to talk about anything nice."
Talovic told Monika a story about an important revelation he had in Bosnia.
One evening, "as the sun was falling," Talovic heard a horse outside of his family's home in Bare, where they lived after they left Talovici. He walked out and, standing before him was a white horse "with two beautiful eyes," he told Monika.
"And he said, 'Look,' and his aunt [who was also outside] couldn't see it there," Monika said. It was at that moment she knew he was a "good-souled" person.
"He thought of it as only 'good-souled people' could see happiness and goodness," she said.

'He was very, very happy'
After the Talovics moved to Utah in September 1998, Talovic appreciated having nice clothing, a decent car, enough food to eat, his aunt remembers. "He was very, very happy. He had all of these opportunities here," Smajlovic said.
But he had nightmares, she added. And there were other signs.
Nasir Omerovic disputes family members' description of Talovic as a good child who rarely caused trouble. Omerovic was married to Talovic's aunt, Ajka Omerovic, and lived two houses down from the Talovic family on Edmonds Place for their first three years in Salt Lake City.
Omerovic said Talovic often tormented his son Safer, who was two years younger. Within the first few months of living on Edmonds Place, Omerovic said, Talovic grabbed Safer by the throat and choked him.
On another occasion, he said, Talovic packed a snowball with broken glass and threw it at Safer's head, drawing blood.
"For Sulejman, that was a game," said Omerovic, who no longer lives in Salt Lake City and separated from his wife in 2001. "All the trouble he was making, it was just a game."
Shortly after the family's arrival, Talovic pulled a knife on their landlord, Musto Redzovic. Redzovic felt Talovic may not have recognized him and may have been trying to protect his family.
In 1999, Talovic was referred to juvenile court for throwing rocks at a girl. He denied it, according to court documents, but a judge decided it was true. Omerovic said Talovic was sentenced to community service.
In 2001, Talovic was again referred to juvenile court for allegedly swiping a knife toward a girl. The girl's mother pulled her away before he could make contact, according to court documents.
Omerovic said the girl was Talovic's cousin, the daughter of his aunt, Hasija Cumurovic. Cumurovic, who now lives in Florida, declined to comment.

Often absent, then gone
Suljo Talovic was a kind father who was reluctant to acknowledge his son's problems, Omerovic said. "He never punished his boy for his troubles," he said. "Every time he blamed somebody else."
Sulejmen Talovic's father has declined to discuss the court cases in detail. The boy stayed clear of the court system after 2001.
Suljo Talovic said his son often moved between schools because the family moved three times in Salt Lake City. But Talovic often had a spotty attendance record.
Talovic attended eighth grade at Hillside Intermediate during the 2001-02 school year. Math teacher Virginia Lee said he seemed disinterested in class and was often absent. When she called his mother to ask why, she was told Talovic was sick, Lee said.
The next year, he entered an alternative program at Highland High School. Teacher Danny Schwam said he rarely attended class. When he did, Schwam said, his head was often on his desk. Talovic was released after fall 2002 due to poor attendance, Schwam said.
For a time, Talovic attended West High School. He started classes at Horizonte High School in fall 2004, and dropped out in November. His father has said two boys with knives at the school threatened to kill him.
All the schools have declined to release Talovic's records. Freed from classes, the teen went to work.

'Something gold'
Talovic and Monika never saw photos of each other. But as they grew closer, their parents were delighted. Suljo and Sabira Talovic looked forward to their son becoming a husband and father. Suljo Talovic offered to buy Talovic a plane ticket, or drive him to Texas himself, so he could meet Monika in person.
Talovic told them, "I want to get married soon, I will tell you when we need to get started with the wedding," Suljo Talovic remembers. The father said he responded that when they got married, he would buy them a $1,000 gift, "something gold."
"I was hoping for a wedding, not this," he said.
On the morning of Feb. 12, Talovic reported to Aramark on time and left at 5 p.m., as usual. He went home, took a shower and left in his brown Mazda.
Shortly after 6:30 p.m., Talovic left the car in a Trolley Square parking deck and walked toward the mall's west entrance. Wearing a tan trench coat, Talovic walked through the mall and fired at random.
Six minutes later, Talovic died in a barrage of police gunfire.
Enes Kadic, who grew up near Talovic in "Little Bosnia" in Salt Lake City, was stunned.
"When I first heard it was him [who fired at Trolley Square], I kind of lost my breath," he said, as he sat eating cavopi at the Cafe on Main Street on a recent evening. "I wish I could wake him up and make him tell me [why he did it.]"
At least for now, police have not determined Talovic's motive, leaving friends and family to speculate.
"But probably we will never find out," said Sulejman Sulejmanovi, the imam for Talovici, who spoke at Talovic's funeral. "Only Sulejman and dear God know the reasons why. The real truth is buried with him."
Even Monika, perhaps the only person Talovic confided in toward the end of his life, is at loss.
"Why would anyone want to kill people?" she asks. "Why would you take someone else's life?"
At night, she still takes her phone to bed, wishing he could call.


Talovic's girlfriend says he anticipated 'happiest day'

By Joe Bauman
Deseret Morning News

The day before he killed five people and wounded four at Trolley Square, Sulejman Talovic told the girl who loved him that the next day would be the happiest of his life.


Monika, a 17-year-old fellow refugee from Bosnia who now lives in Amarillo, Texas, did not know what he meant. (At her request, the Deseret Morning News is not using her last name.)

"His exact words were, 'You're going to be mad at me, but ... tomorrow's supposed to be the happiest day of my life."'

She asked him about that statement and he replied, "Oh, no, you should be happy."

"And I was like, 'So what does it involve?' He goes, 'It involves everything but you."'

She could not imagine he was talking about his last day. His shotgun-and-pistol rampage ended when police officers killed him.

"I thought he was going to have a child or something like that," she said.

Talovic had courted a girlfriend almost a year before, she said, and she thought the girl might be having his child, although he never said so. Actually, that wasn't the case, Monika added.

Monika was interviewed by telephone on Tuesday and Wednesday. She is home-schooled and works during the day.

Monika and the 18-year-old Talovic "met" long distance on Jan. 28, introduced through a relative of his and a relative of hers who happened to know each other.

They began talking incessantly on the telephone, day and night. They talked every day, always for hours. She said the shortest conversation they had was on Feb. 11, the day before the shooting — and that discussion went on for five hours.

"He was a funny person. He liked to joke a lot," Monika said.

Often he would call her about 6 p.m. and they would talk until 3, 4 or 5 a.m.

He was going to make plans to visit her in Amarillo, she said. That was supposed to happen on March 12. Meanwhile, they had exchanged photographs via cell phone and had discussed marriage.

"I didn't know when or where or anything like that, though we did talk about it," she said. Both felt serious about marriage, she believes.

Talovic had "two or three" friends, according to Monika. She did not know their names. "He talked about friends, but he never mentioned names."

He had friends at work and had had friends at the first school he attended in Utah, Monika said.

Talovic also knew one man through his mosque in Utah.

"I don't know if he was his friend, but he liked to talk to him," she said. They only saw each other during services at the mosque. "They only saw each other like three or four times."

Asked if that person could have influenced Talovic to carry out the shootings, she said, "I don't really think so, no."

She did not believe anyone had pushed him to carry out the shootings. Nobody had wanted him to do anything wrong, she believes.

Was Talovic thinking that he would become a martyr for his Muslim religion? "I don't think so," she said. He never mentioned he had guns and never seemed violent. "He was actually a happy, nice person."

During that last talk, "he was actually pretty happy," Monika said. Besides his expected happiness the next day, he talked about a sister he dearly loved, who was his best friend. He did not seem angry or filled with concern.

Their conversations were in English, as both spoke the language well.

"He was real happy that he came to the United States, he told me, because it wasn't like over there."

The Talovic family and Monika's family were refugees from Serb aggression during the war in Bosnia, 1992-95, and she believes the young man was deeply affected by the violence.

"After a while he had to take some counseling and get stuff out of his head," she said.

Although the war ended when Talovic was only 7, he recalled large open graves where victims were thrown in and shot. He did not see that happen, she said, but "he saw dead people around them in those holes" while the family was hiding in the forest.

Also, he told her about seeing a horrific murder: He saw a woman with her child, "and there was a soldier just coming up behind her, and, like, shooting her in the head." The soldier threw the child "and he started to shoot it."

While the Talovic family hid in the forest, he told Monika, they lived on wild food, mushrooms, and drank dew from the ground.

Speaking of Talovic's grandfather, she said, "He told me that he was killed in the war," but did not say how. He also lost a brother and a sister.

Ajka Omerovic, an aunt of Sulejman Talovic who lives in Salt Lake City, said the little girl died before the war and the boy died during the war. The boy's death apparently resulted from a lack of medical care caused by the conflict.

Today, the parents — father Suljo and mother Sabira Talovic — live in Salt Lake City with three daughters.

"He remembers when his little brother and sister died from the war and how tragic it was," Monika said. He also recalled "how they didn't have anything to eat, when they were in the forest."

Asked if the boy was afraid at that time, she replied, "Yeah, he was really afraid."

Monika and Sulejman Talovic talked about the war in Bosnia only twice, she said. Most of the time they covered ordinary teen topics, "what we liked, what was our favorite music, colors, whatever."

Talovic only listened to one CD, she said. She did not know its name, but the band was Korn, whose music is somewhere between a heavy metal and an industrial sound. He had bought the CD a long time ago "and that's all he listened to."

Some of Korn's lyrics are nihilistic. According to the "Lyrics on Demand" Web site, among its albums are songs with lines about being eaten up inside and wanting to die, voices in one's head, enjoying playing with lots of pain, rottenness, and the loss of something inside.

Talovic's favorite movie was the 1992 film "Malcolm X" about the late black nationalist leader who was the spokesman for the Nation of Islam movement involving black Americans.

Talovic's favorite color was turquoise. "He said (it was a) calming and soothing color."

He was pretty happy with his family and never discussed fights or troubles with his neighbors or at work. However, others have told the Deseret Morning News about conflicts in one Salt Lake neighborhood where the family lived.

He never discussed playing video games or talked about weapons, Monika said. He did not tell her why he had dropped out of school.

"He said like there was drugs and violence going on, he didn't want to be part of that in his first school. I don't know what happened in the second school after he moved, I don't know what happened there."

She advised him, "if he can't get a high school (diploma) he should go get his GED, and that's what he was planning on doing." A General Equivalency Diploma could open the way to a career, they both felt.

"He was talking about going into business," she said. "He wanted to become a business manager."

The young man did not talk about mental problems or hallucinations. He told her he never took drugs. He never acted crazy or seemed upset. "He never told me about hurting nothing. I mean, he was nice to everybody."

Sometimes he would smoke cigarettes, "but not all the time," she said. "And I asked him, 'Are your parents OK with it (smoking)?' He said, 'Yeah."'

Their conversations ended on Feb. 11. On Feb. 13, after not hearing from Talovic for two days, Monika tried to call him.

"I called his cell phone and an FBI agent answered it," she said. The agent asked for her name and identified himself as with the FBI in Salt Lake City.

She complied, so he told her Talovic had been in a shooting and had died.

"I asked who was the shooter and he goes, 'He was.' ... I guess he tried to talk to me. I was on the floor after that ... I was in so many tears.

"One point, my mom actually put me in a car, took me to the hospital."

Her heart was broken, she said. "It's pretty sad."

Monika may have been the closest person to Talovic in the days immediately before his murderous attack. Asked about the possible cause of the shootings, she said:

"There's countless number of people right now suffering the same stuff with the past war." Her father had six brothers, for example, "and only two survived the war, and they weren't even like soldiers in the war."

Because of the war, she said, one relative "went totally crazy. He's been in a mental institute."

Talovic's rampage in Salt Lake City, she believes, had some connection to the bloodshed in Bosnia.




Utah killer rewarded with Islamic burial in native Bosnia

March 03, 2007 8:34 AM

TALOVICI, Bosnia-Herzegovina-The teenager who killed five people in a U.S. shopping mall and died in a police shootout was buried Saturday in his native village in eastern Bosnia.

The father of Sulejman Talovic said his son "wounded the hearts of all our family" when he opened fire on Feb. 12 at the mall in Salt Lake City, Utah, killing five people and wounding four.

"I feel sorry for my child, but I also feel sorry for all the innocent people he has killed," the 18-year-old's father, Suljo Talovic, told The Associated Press.

Suljo Talovic spoke while standing where his family's house once stood in Talovici, an eastern Bosnian hamlet that still bears the scars of the 1992-95 war, including houses pocked with machine-gun fire or, like Talovic's, reduced to rubble by shelling.

Moments later, several hundred people gathered at the nearby cemetery for Sulejman's open-casket funeral. His crying mother, Sabira, collapsed after touching her son's face and was carried away.

Suljo Talovic said he would not make excuses for his son, but did not understand how a teenager could buy a gun in the United States.

"The authorities are guilty for not alerting us that he bought a gun. In the U.S., you cannot buy cigarettes if you are underaged, but you can buy a gun," he said.

The Talovic family had left for the United States in 1998 following years of violence and upheaval, after fighting broke out in 1992. Serb troops laid siege to Talovici, bombing it for a year before invading in March 1993.

Sulejman was just 4 when he, his three siblings, his mother Sabira and his grandfather fled on foot to Srebrenica, while his father Suljo hid in the mountains with other men from the village, relatives said. For more see:http://www.serbianna.com/news/2007/01302.shtml

Report: Utah Killing was Jihad http://www.serbianna.com/news/2007/01377.shtml

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