Naveed Haq was anything but an Islamic radical. He was a recently baptized convert to Christianity, and he expressed interest in Mormonism. His father, on the other hand, is a leader in the Muslim American community in Richland, Wash. It's fair to say that the entire story line of a crazed Islamic radical shooting up a Jewish organization has been turned on its head. This sad incident is clearly the work of a confused -- possibly bipolar -- individual.
I'm still trying to figure out how I missed this story in my post this morning, but thanks to Mollie, who sent me the link, consider this an update to what has become a horrifically sad and complicated story that digs into a variety of religious traditions. Here is the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Scott Guiterrez:
Last winter, Haq began attending a weekly men's group meeting at the home of a men's ministry leader with the Word of Faith Center, a non-denominational, evangelical church in Kennewick. The group's leader, Albert Montelongo, said Haq started studying the Bible. In December, he was baptized by Montelongo. The ceremony brought tears to Haq's eyes, Montelongo said.
He said Haq appeared to accept his new faith, though he knew that he would be offending his own family and its deeply rooted culture. His father, Mian Haq, was among the founders of the Islamic Center of the Tri-Cities in Richland, a place of worship for about 300 Muslims.
Montelongo said Haq seemed passionate and often boasted about his education. But he seemed depressed by the tension that had grown between him and his family. And Montelongo said Haq talked about suffering from bipolar disorder, but that he seemed to improve in how he coped with anger.
Whatever suggestions the initial reporting on this tragic incident gave us that this crime was instigated by some form of Islamic radicalism need explaining. It's fairly well established that Haq shouted about Israel during the rampage and said that he was a Muslim American. But since we know he abandoned Islam, we can't really call him an Islamic radical anymore.
His association with the nondenominational evangelical church is also interesting and deserves a very close look by journalists covering this incident. Why did he convert? How did his family react? Did their reaction trigger anything in him? Why did he fail to stick it out with the group? At any point did he revert to Islam?