The Popal plea hearing is being continued so as to allow further psychiatric evaluations. He may indeed be crazy, and that would be an effective end to the newsworthiness of this tragedy (although it will continue to resonate forever for his victims and their families). I found interesting, though, local coverage about why the media has concluded that Popal wasn’t motivated by “Sudden Jihad Syndrome” (“SJS”). It turns out, according to at least one newspaper (the Oakland Tribune, whose reporter authored the following story, which has been widely distributed in local papers), that it’s only SJS if Jews die:
The hour-long rampage, which has garnered national media attention and drawn speculation among Internet bloggers that the spree was an act of terrorism, began in Fremont about noon Aug. 29, when witnesses said an SUV hit Wilson as he walked north on Fremont Boulevard near Decoto Road.
Wilson rolled onto the vehicle, hit the windshield and then landed in a nearby field, where he remained as the driver — identified later as Popal — sped off. Wilson was pronounced dead at the scene.
About 30 minutes later, the same SUV arrived in San Francisco and began barreling over 18 people in separate incidents in the city’s Laurel Heights neighborhood.
At first, some speculated that Popal, an Afghan Muslim man, suffered from “Sudden Jihad Syndrome” and was carrying out a terrorist mission against Jews because one of the crash sites was in front of the Jewish Community Center.
But those rumors quickly lost steam when police disclosed that the victims were of all ages and races, and when Popal’s family said he suffered from mental illness. [Emphasis mine.]
This makes for a nice bright line in coverage. The jihadist preaching that is a cornerstone of Islam is nevertheless unrelated to attacks by more radical Muslims, so long as Jews are not the primary targets. In other words, 9/11, Madrid, Bali, the bombings in Africa, the young Islamic men who have used cars as battering rams in North Caroline and Arizona, the attacks against Christians in Indonesia, etc — none of these are Jihad because they’re not directed against Jews.
I’d like to thank the media for clearing up all confusion. Thanks to this helpful definition of Jihad, I now understand that Islam is indeed a religion of peace. That scary Jihad doctrine applies only when the attacks are against Jews, in which case, jihad though it may be, the Jews had it coming because they’ve had the temerity to try to protect their nation from destruction and the citizens from death.