Archive for Veteran

Hate Crime: US Army Veteran Tortures a Pakistani Muslim

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2011 by loonwatch
David Nienberg is being held in a Harris County Jail on $30,000 bail. / HCSODavid Nienberg is being held in a Harris County Jail on $30,000 bail. / HCSO

Family says attack on Muslim man in Tomball should be hate crime

By LINDSAY WISE, HOUSTON CHRONICLE

Yaqub Bham’s visit to a residence in Tomball on Wednesday was supposed to be routine for the 61-year-old ADT salesman, who had come to inspect a client’s property before installing a home security system.

Instead, the homeowner, David L. Nienberg, allegedly tried to stab Bham with a fork, bit off part of his ear, and beat him so badly that he broke 10 ribs.

Nienberg, 42, of Tomball, is charged with aggravated assault. If convicted, he could serve from two to 20 years in prison.

Bham’s distraught family members want the incident investigated as a possible hate crime against Bham, a Muslim native of Pakistan who became an American citizen in 2007.They say an agitated Nienberg became violent after asking Bham about the origin of his name and where he was from.

Harris County sheriff’s deputies who responded to a 911 call from Nienberg’s family about 5:50 p.m. on Wednesday did not mention the questions about Bham’s name and origins in their report, said Deputy Thomas Gilliland, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office.

Gilliland said Nienberg apparently became angry while reviewing the contract for a security system in his four-bedroom home on Everhart Pointe Drive. When Bham offered to make another contract, or change it, “the defendant took the backpack that Mr. Bham had and wouldn’t give him the backpack, which contained the keys to his vehicle,” Gilliland said.

The two men’s verbal disagreement then became physical, the deputy said.

Nienberg lunged at Bham with a fork, Gilliland said he was told. Relatives took the implement away, but Nienberg allegedly managed to get Bham in a choke hold, beat him, and bite him while muttering about military operations.

When deputies arrived, Nienberg refused to let go of Bham until they “secured the perimeter” and “secured women personnel,” Gilliland said.

It took three deputies to pull Nienberg off Bham, he said. They deployed Tasers on Nienberg twice, and even then, the furious man continued to kick and spit after they wrestled him into a patrol car, said Gilliland.

Victim hospitalized

Bham, who was recovering Friday in a local hospital, immigrated to Houston in 1997 and is the married father of three adult children. He and his family proudly became U.S. citizens four years ago, said his daughter, Shazdeh Bham, 23.

“When we moved to the States, it was for educational opportunities and just a better living, a better life,” she said.

Every once in a while, the Bham family hears negative comments like, “Go back to your country where you belong,” Shazdeh Bham said, “but it’s never bothered us. It never made us think twice about anything.”

The attack on her father was different, though, and frightening.

“I’m just really angry, and I’m extremely confused because I still don’t understand why this happened, and what triggered this … and why this person caused this much harm and this much hurt to my father,” she said. “Now I just want to see justice. I want to see this person punished for what he did.”

Shazdeh Bham said her father is a hardworking citizen who would never say anything negative about anyone.

“He is a patient and positive person,” she added. “He is very easy to work with. His family is his entire life, which is his only priority.”

Nienberg’s questions about Bham’s name and background suggest that the attack might have been motivated by racial or religious bias, said Mustafaa Carroll, executive director of the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The group on Friday joined Bham’s family in calling on local law enforcement and the FBI to investigate the incident as a possible hate crime.

“It’s because of what precipitated the attack that makes us think it has all the elements of a hate crime: ‘What does your name mean? Where are you from?’ And then boom, he jumped on him,” Carroll said.

“The level of hate speech and rhetoric that we hear on a fairly regular basis in society – the baseless accusations that Muslims are trying to take over America, or they’re trying to bring Sharia law, or they’re trying to subvert the government – this baseless rhetoric keeps the environment heated for something like this to happen, for the possibility of violence,” he said. “When you say that stuff over and over and over, it begins to play on your psychology toward a certain group of people.”

Motives a mystery

Nienberg has no prior criminal history in Harris County.

After hearing about his use of military terms, deputies asked Nienberg’s relatives if he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, Gilliland said. They were told that Nienberg is a veteran but that he had never served in any type of conflict, nor had he ever been deployed overseas.

Neither Bham nor Nienberg’s family members offered a clue as to what went wrong, Gilliland said.

He said deputies are looking into whether Nienberg was under the influence of narcotics or alcohol or had suffered a mental break, “because it was just incoherent, the things that he was saying.”

It will be up to prosecutors to decide whether to upgrade the charges to a hate crime, Gilliland said.

As it is, Nienberg is charged with a second-degree felony.

He is being held in a Harris County Jail on $30,000 bail.

Idaho: Ex-Vet Threatens Muslim Woman

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , on January 3, 2011 by loonwatch

This should be treated as a hate crime.

Hearing continued for Twin Falls man charged with harassment

A preliminary hearing for a Twin Falls man charged with malicious harassment was postponed Thursday in order to allow the defendant time to find an attorney.

John Christopher Larsen, 42, appeared as his own defense in Twin Falls County 5th District Court to request time to find a lawyer, claiming he was denied a public defender.

Larsen was charged with felony harassment on Dec. 23 after he allegedly threatened a Muslim woman at the Twin Falls Walmart on Dec. 22. Witnesses told police that they heard Larsen yelling at the woman, saying Muslims didn’t belong in the U.S., and threatening her with a gun he said he was carrying under his shirt.

Larsen said Thursday he admitted himself into a psychiatric ward for three days following the incident, which had limited his time to find an attorney. Larsen said he had also requested his military records that would show he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq.

Magistrate Judge Thomas Kershaw granted a continuance and reminded Larsen that he was under a “no contact” order, meaning he is not to contact the alleged victim, who was in attendance Thursday in court along with other witnesses.

Kershaw instructed Larsen to keep Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs informed on his progress in finding a lawyer because Kershaw didn’t want witnesses to show up again only to have the hearing postponed again.

Preliminary hearings are scheduled soon after a person is charged in order to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to warrant a felony conviction. Continuances are often requested by attorneys to allow them to gather more information prior to a hearing.

 

Roman Conaway: Vet Threatens Muslims and Obama in lead to Standoff

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2010 by loonwatch
Roman Conaway Facebook page (Riverfronttimes)

Roman Conaway, a veteran in the US army with explosives training is an ardent Christian, he lists the Bible as the “only book” he has ever read. He has made anti-Islam and anti-government threats and in the lead up to his most recent standoff with the police in which he took his wife hostage he made crazy, threatening calls to St.Louis area Muslims prompting a visit from the FBI.

This is a manifestation of a possible threat we have been talking about for months now, the convergence of “armed and loaded” veterans who do not leave their animus towards Islam and Muslims on the battlefield but also bring it home, either joining groups in the anti-Muslim movement or acting as lone wolves. In this instance we had the overlapping of anti-Muslim and anti-Obama/government feelings, an actualization that should make the Department of Homeland Security look seriously at updating their document on the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism by including anti-Muslim groups.

Standoff over: Threats to president, Muslims lead Fairview Heights man to take hostages with fake suicide belt

BY JACQUELINE LEE – News-Democrat

50-year-old man with a suicide belt wrapped around his waist, with wires coming out of it and attached to a curling iron he claimed was a triggering device, surrendered to FBI and Secret Service agents Wednesday morning after a standoff that was sparked by his alleged threats to Muslims and President Barack Obama.

The man surrendered at 2:15 a.m. Wednesday, shortly after releasing his wife and son.

Roman Conaway, 50, of 9030 Summit Drive in Fairview Heights, was arrested on suspicion of threatening the president and law enforcement with an explosive device, according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Stu McArthur.

The drama began unfolding Tuesday on Summit Drive as well as on the social networking website Facebook. Conaway posted vague threats against Muslims, and later his family members pleaded for him to end the standoff.
Conaway on Tuesday called members of the Muslim community in St. Louis, making wild threats against them and against President Obama, McArthur said. Those community members called the FBI about 1 p.m. Tuesday.

The seven-hour standoff started after the FBI and Secret Service went to Conaway’s home at 9030 Summit Drive about 7 p.m. and were greeted by him outfitted with the belt packed with blocks of what looked like C4 explosives, wires and a curling iron. He pointed to two 55-gallon drums and said the curling iron was a remote triggering device that would activate if he were shot or attacked.

“We were quite surprised to see the props,” McArthur said.

McArthur said they heard Conaway had explosives training and that he was ex-military, which they believed added some credence to his threats.

The blocks on the belt turned out to be Play-Doh. The barrels were filled with water.
Fairview Heights Police Lt. Steve Evans said that by about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday police began evacuating homes in the neighborhood.

After federal agents went to the home, “It quickly evolved into a confrontational situation,” Evans said.
Evans said police were able to see the man and the woman during the standoff because they were outside the home. But as of midnight, police had not been able to determine whether he in fact had explosives.

“We’ve had a visual on everybody there, and everybody seems to be OK,” Evans said. “The man has been verbally confrontational, but there has been no other aggressive action. We’ve taken precautions, but there’s nothing to substantiate claims that there are explosives.”

Evans said another man was at the scene, though it appeared that man was not being held against his will. The two men and the woman were on the lawn of the residence. Police were getting close enough to talk to the suspect, who was “physically detaining” the woman, Evans said.

McArthur later said the woman was Conaway’s wife and the other man was his son.

“No stone is left unturned and every lead is investigated until there is no threat to national security,” McArthur said.

Conaway posted remarks about the situation earlier Tuesday on Facebook.

At about 5 p.m., Conaway wrote: “I need everbody with a camera phone or video phone or video cameras to come to 9030 Summit Drive in Fairview Heights, Illinois. The media and your government think this is a joke. I’m not joking.”

His sister responded: “no joke… and ugh! BRO???????????? :(
She also wrote: “who will I share my Bday with now if you dont’ pull through this! I LOVE YOU… I understand…. but I am sad!!!!!!!!!!!! :(

His niece pleaded with him not to follow through on the threat. “uncle jr.. please dnt do this.. ur my favorite uncle :( i love u very much.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Conaway wrote that he was going to burn a Quran, and added that “6 other CDs will be released upon my death or arrest against other countries on the Internet. this is not a joke.”

Conaway’s writings indicate he had been involved recently in a child-custody dispute.

He wrote on Aug. 24: “there is no way judge kelly is a christian judge. so i guess god will punish him to the fullest of his wrath.”

Also on Aug. 24, he wrote about having been awake for 92 hours straight: “opps typo well what the h… Been awake over 92hr.im lucky i can see the keyboard doe!”

In his biographical information on Facebook, Conaway states that he’s “anti gov” and that “they are way overpaid.” It also shows a like for blues and guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan and states under favorite books: “bible only book ive ever read.”

St. Clair County court records showed one minor traffic conviction for Conaway and no other arrests.
His relatives said some of his family members were in Fairview Heights and working with police Tuesday night to try to end the standoff.

Residents of the area were evacuated to the Sterling Baptist Church on Bunkum Road. The evacuation of residents was complete by 10 p.m.