On 2 DEC 2015, the city of San Bernardino was rocked by a shooting by two Fundamentalists in what is ever increasingly being viewed by many as an act of terrorism. The FBI and the President are still withholding calling it terrorism. However, recent reports have developed stating that the attackers viewed ISIS propaganda and used ISIS-style tactics.
“Police said Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, a county health worker born in Chicago, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, his Pakistani wife in the U.S. on a visa, were both dressed in tactical gear and armed with rifles, handguns and multiple ammunition magazines when they strode into a holiday party for county workers Wednesday morning. They opened fire, spraying 65 to 75 rounds and leaving behind an unexploded pipe bomb before fleeing in a rented black Ford Expedition.
“Authorities on Thursday afternoon identified the victims of the shooting, listing their names, ages and cities: Shannon Johnson, 45, Los Angeles; Bennetta Bet-Badal, 46, Rialto; Aurora Godoy, 26, San Jacinto; Isaac Amanios, 60, Fontana; Larry Kaufman, 42, Rialto; Harry Bowman, 46, Upland; Yvette Velasco, 27, Fontana; Sierra Clayborn, 27, Moreno Valley; Robert Adams, 40, Yucaipa; Nicholas Thalasinos, 52, Colton; Tin Nguyen, 31, Santa Ana; Juan Espinoza, 50, Highland; Damian Meins, 58, Riverside; and Michael Wetzel, 37, Lake Arrowhead.”
Among the victims of the tragedy was Bennetta Bet Badal, 46, of Rialto, CA. Bet Badal was an Assyrian born in Iran in 1969. According to her family, “She fled to America at the age of 18 to escape Islamic extremism and the persecution of Christians that followed the Iranian Revolution.”
NEC-SE would like to take this time to strongly condemn these attacks and to give its condolences to the families of the victims who were killed and injured, especially to the Assyrian community which has been shaken by news stories of tragedy after tragedy.
This attack is both tragic and ironic: tragic because it claimed the lives of 14 innocent people and injured 21 others; ironic because it showcases how Assyrians fled tyranny, oppression, and persecution for freedom and liberty, only to live in a country that is also beginning to be subject to an ever increasing threat by the same forms of oppressors.
NEC-SE would like to take this opportunity to once again urge action to directly arming the Assyrians and Yezidis and other minorities in their indigenous homeland, so that they can defend themselves against terrorism and oppression. This tragedy is evidence that the only way to effectively counter terrorism is not solely here in the US, but abroad and at its root.
The family of Benneta Bet Badal has provided a GoFundMe link to help with the cost of her arrangements:
“Benneta Betbadal was born in Iran in 1969. She fled to America at the age of 18 to escape Islamic extremism and the persecution of Christians that followed the Iranian Revolution. Benneta initially settled in New York City, eventually moving to California and marrying her husband, Arlen Verdehyou, a police officer. They moved to Rialto, California and had three children, now ages 10, 12, and 15.
Benneta graduated from Cal Poly, Pomona with a degree in Chemistry. She accepted a position as an inspector for the San Bernardino County Health Department where she has served for many years. Benneta was proud to work for the people of San Bernardino County. She loved her job, her community, and her country. Her greatest love, however, was for her husband, her children, and her large extended family.
Benneta left the house Wednesday morning, excited about a presentation she was scheduled to give to her supervisors and coworkers at their annual meeting. It is the ultimate irony that her life would be stolen from her that day by what appears to be the same type of extremism that she fled so many years ago.
This is fund will be used solely to benefit Benneta’s children, as they and the family adapt to life without her.”