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Jeep Jihad's family "aghast" at attack- attended Bakr Al Siddiq mosque where car plowed into bystanders 3 weeks before

August 31, 2006

MIM: As Dr.Daniel Pipes points out in his blog " More Instances of Denying Islamist Terrorism" the Popal case is farcical in that he referred to himself as a 'terrorist'.

Omeed Aziz Popal, 29 and an Afghan immigrant, was arrested in San Francisco on Aug. 29 after going on a rampage with his SUV, a black Honda Pilot, injuring 14 persons and killing one. The driver ended up in front of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, where he struck two people Eye-witnesses described him as "very calm" and "absolutely indifferent, no fear, no expression. He was like a zombie." Despite these hints as to Popal's motives, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom initially responded by terming the assaults "so senseless and inexplicable." He later, at a press conference (quoting from excerpts transcript provided by Hugh Hewitt), called the attacks "road rage," asserted "there seems to be no pattern" to the victims' ethnicity or age. He went on: "We made no assertions that this was a hate crime, though that is being investigated." Newsom concluded that "it doesn't look in any way shape or form" like an attack related to "international relations." Some family members helpfully explained, as paraphrased by San Francisco Chronicle, that "Popal had mental problems and lived in fear of the devil; others said his recent, arranged marriage may have made him stressed." One cousin even speculated that the family not letting him have a chance to meet or talk to his fiancée could have been the problem. Popal's lawyer, Majeed Samara, added, "My client suffers from mental illness — he has been in and out of the hospital." Samara also quoted Popal's father to the effect that Popal has not been the same since waking up from a bad dream six months ago. One interesting lead: the mosque whch Popal's family attends, the Abu Bakr Siddiq Mosque in Hayward, was the scene of an accident on Aug. 11, 2006, when an elderly non-Muslim man, 77, inadvertently drove his Cadillac into a crowd outside the mosque, injuring 11 persons. To make this farce complete, an eyewitness quoted Popal referring to himself as a "terrorist." (Aug. 30, 2006)

Suspect's family aghast at incident

'This is not the Omeed I know,' cousin says of man accused
By Jeremy Herb, STAFF WRITER
Inside Bay Area
FREMONT — Relatives said they were shocked to learn that Omeed Aziz Popal may have been behind the wheel of the SUV that killed one and injured at least 14 people in Fremont and San Francisco on Tuesday.

"This is not the Omeed that I know," said Popal's cousin, Hamid Nekrawesh. "I couldn't believe it was him."

Members of Popal's extended family dropped by his Cabrillo Drive home Tuesday as his immediate family was questioned by police and had vacated the house. Popal's family members said they had no idea what could have driven Popal to commit this crime. "I'm kind of shocked," said Mina Aziz, a relative of Popal. "I can't believe that boy could do that thing. He's not that kind of boy."

Popal, who was born in Afghanistan and moved to the United States when he was a youngster, returned to Kabul about three months ago for an arranged marriage. After getting married, Popal returned to Fremont about a month ago.

Nekrawesh said the only thing he could think of that might have troubled Popal was his arranged marriage.

"The only problem I could see is he grew up as a Westerner and went to Afghanistan to get married," Nekrawesh said. "The parents of the bride were very strict. They did not allow them to get together and talk like he could have here."

However, Nekrawesh said Popal seemed happy before leaving for Kabul, adding, "The lifestyle is very different in Afghanistan."

Nekrawesh said Popal planned to bring his bride to the United States after she received a visa.

Popal's cousin, Zarghona Ramish, said he was nervous before his wedding. He had been having bad dreams, and "he thought the devil was coming to kill him," Ramish said.

Residents watched Tuesday as police taped off Popal's house while waiting for a search warrant. Many of Popal's neighbors said the family wasn't well-known in the neighborhood.

Popal lived with his parents, one younger brother and two younger sisters, according to Nekrawesh.

Several neighbors said the family was nice but mostly kept to themselves.

"They never bugged anybody," Alberto Barroso said. "They always had guests over, though."

William Lofton, 69, who has lived on Cabrillo Drive for 40 years, said the Popal family moved in about three years ago. He said they own two vans and a black SUV, which he said weren't there at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Lofton said the family sold computers built at garage sales, and that one of the vans the family owned was cluttered with bicycles and other items.

Nekrawesh said Popal's father, Najib, sold goods at various Bay Area flea markets.

After moving from Kabul, Popal's family lived in Hayward while he was growing up. Aziz said he always had a smile on his face as a boy.

Nekrawesh said Popal was an auto mechanic in multiple local shops, the most recent on Mowry Avenue in Newark.

Popal's family attended the Abu Bakr Siddiq Mosque in Hayward, and Nekrawesh said Popal's father went regularly.

Nekrawesh said that Popal's extended family is possibly the largest in Fremont, with more than 500 relatives living here.

Staff writer Jeremy Herb can be reached at (510) 353-7013 or [email protected].

------------ Posted on Sat, Aug. 12, 2006

Car injures 11 outside mosque

By Ricci Graham


A 77-year-old man plowed his car into a group gathered outside a Hayward mosque Friday afternoon, injuring 11, police said. Because the members of the Abu Bakr Siddiq Mosque mostly belong to the Afghan community, reports of the incident initially sparked fears of a hate crime, but Sgt. Corey Quinn said police are investigating the incident as an accident. Four of the people hit in the parking lot of the mosque were treated at a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, Quinn said, with seven others declining immediate medical care. The driver, who was unhurt, was not cited, Quinn said. "It was not on purpose," Quinn said. "It was one of those things that just happened." Quinn declined to identify the man, who was driving a 2001 Cadillac. But mosque member Ali Mardanzai, 65, identified the man as a retired Fremont physician. Mardanzai said the group was standing in front of the mosque about 2:15 p.m. after a prayer service and preparing to drive to a funeral at Chapel of the Chimes when the driver entered the parking lot to drop off his wife. After she got out of the car, Mardanzai said, the car began to move again. But it appeared the driver might have hit the gas pedal instead of the brake while maneuvering through the horseshoe-shaped driveway, Mardanzai said. The Cadillac slammed into the crowd of people before jumping a parking lot divider and crashing into a parked Toyota sport-utility vehicle. The driver "was very white, he was very pale," Mardanzai said. "He was very worried." Although Quinn said he did not know any details about injuries, witnesses said three people suffered broken legs. "He's an old person," Mohammad W. Azizi said of the driver. "He was just out of control." The dazed driver stood underneath a tree in the corner of the parking lot with his wife, who was seated in a chair, and the two watched as officers cordoned off the area while investigating. He was escorted from the mosque by his daughter about 90 minutes after the accident. "The car just jumped," she said. "He said the car just jumped." After the car came to rest, Azizi said, people raced over to help those who were injured, he said. "Just an accident," Azizi said. "He's a good person. He's a very intelligent person. It was just an accident." -----------

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