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Monday, August 31, 2020

An American "Honor Killing"

     On December 24, 2007, a Muslim woman named Patricia Said and her 17 and 18-year-old daughters, fled their home in Lewisville, Texas, a town in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. They left their home in fear of their lives. The 17-year-old daughter, Sarah Yaser Said, a student at Lewisville High School, had dated a non-muslim boy. This fact enraged the girl's father, Egyptian born Yaser Abdel Said, who threatened to harm his wife and daughters over what he considered an unforgivable family disgrace.

     After fleeing their home, Mrs. Said and her daughters took up residence in a motel in Irving, Texas, a suburban community outside of Dallas.

     On January 1, 2008, at two-thirty in the afternoon, Sarah Said called 911 from her cellphone and cried, "Help, I'm dying, oh my God, stop it!" The remainder of Sarah Said's message was unintelligible. The 911 dispatcher's repeated requests for an address went unanswered.

     About an hour after Sarah Said's desperate 911 plea, another emergency operator received a call from a person in the vicinity of the motel in Irving. According to this caller, two teenage girls who appeared to have been shot, were slumped in an abandoned taxicab in the motel parking lot.

     Responding police officers and paramedics found, in the front and back seat of the cab, the bodies of Sarah Said and her sister, Amina Yaser Said. They had been shot to death. Their father, Yaser Abdel Said, who had been a Dallas area cab driver, became the immediate suspect in the murder of his daughters.

     Mr. Said, the suspect of a so-called "honor killing," despite a massive and prolonged manhunt, remained at large for 12 years. In 2014, the fugitive was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List.

     Finally, on August 26, 2020, FBI agents arrested Yaser Abdel Said in Justin, Texas, a town 36 miles northwest of Dallas. A few hours later, agents arrested Mr. Said's son Yassim and another relative. Both men were charged with harboring a fugitive.

     Following the arrests, Irving Police Chief Jeff Spivey told reporters that "Even after twelve years of frustration and dead-ends, the pursuit of [the Said sisters'] killer never ceased." According to Chief Spivey, "Today's arrest of their father, Yaser Said, brings us close to ensuring justice is served on their behalf."

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