Copt Out III

More fallout from the slaying of the Armanious family: In a piece Monday that is available through The Counterterrorism Blog, The New York Sun uncovered a website by and for, well, would-be Jihadists, to help them draw a bead on "Christians who have been particularly active in debating Muslims" on the online forum The Sun reported:

[The website] features not only photographs of the targeted Christians, but also attempts to track down their addresses. A post about a Christian man whose computer was apparently hacked to obtain his photograph includes the man's PalTalk name, his real name, and the city where he resides in Lebanon.

Police are reportedly looking at possible links between the Jihadist website and the Armanious murders. At the very least, the site's angry Muslims crowed very loudly when the case splashed across the headlines.

Another bit of the story that has been given more prominence is the ethnic/religious composition of Jersey City. The Philadelphia Inquirer's report explained that "a surge in immigrants that began in the late 1960s has swelled the Egyptian population to 22 percent to 25 percent of the city's total of 240,000." The pat story has been that Egyptian Muslims and Copts are perfectly capable of living side by side, but the shouts and accusations that have flowed from this case leave that proposition in doubt.

The Weekly Standard ran with the delicious title "Jihad in Jersey City?" and Australia's The Age followed down the same path. In his Inside America column, Age correspondent Roger Franklin wrote that the city is not always easy for New Yorkers to ignore. He expounded:

[I]n 1993 . . . fundamentalists from a Jersey City mosque packed a rented van with fertiliser and fuel, and mounted the first attempt to bring down the Twin Towers. A couple of years later, there was another plot, to blow up the bridges and tunnels into New York, the UN building, Stock Exchange, Jewish Museum and, as usual, the World Trade Centre. You had to wonder what was going on over there.

And wonder even more in the weeks after September 11, when several of the anthrax letters that deepened America's panic turned out to have been mailed from within a few minutes' drive of Jersey City, home to the largest concentration of Middle Eastern migrants on the East Coast.

The feds said not to worry, that the toxic notes were the work of a homegrown right-winger out to frame Muslims. Three years on, with no arrests and the initial suspect all but cleared, the culprit's identity and motive remain moot.

Now comes another reason to gaze across the river and wonder what goes on beneath Jersey City's shabby skyline. When the front-page news is of an entire family ritually slaughtered, it gets some attention.

I hope the don't-rush-to-judgment crowd is right about the Armanious murders. Maybe law enforcement has been right to say that this is something other than what it appears to be. But if this is part of some larger, organized effort, I shudder to think of the consequences.

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