Piecing It Together

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August 25, 2010 10:47 a.m.

As you’ve seen in our earlier reports, we have what appears to be a straight-up hate crime, in which an NYC cabbie picks up a fare, passenger asks him if he’s Muslim and then stabs him in the neck. The NYPD says Michael Enright, 21, is going to be charged with 2nd degree attempted murder and a hate crime. (See the statement from the victim here.)

Only then things get a little weird. Enright is not who you’d expect. He’s a film student who’d recently been either volunteering for or employed by Intersection International, a multifaith and multicultural effort which seeks to promote justice and peace. And the group has very publicly come out in favor of the Cordoba House project, what opponents call the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

Needless to say, that’s a bit difficult to figure.

Police say that Enright was very drunk when the incident occurred, which may provide some limited explanation. But I don’t think someone who’s pro-interfaith dialog finds a Muslim cabbie to stab because he’s loaded.

For the moment we’ve got a real mystery on our hands.

But there is this. A project Enright was working on apparently had him go to Afghanistan as an embed to follow and do a film on a high school friend who’d enlisted in the Marines. We’re trying to get to the bottom of just when he was in Afghanistan and how it lines up with the other events in question. This is purely speculation. I want to emphasize that. But I wonder if Enright could have had some experience in the Afghanistan that, to put it coarsely, just messed him up and led to this. According to the statement released by the victim, Ahmed Sharif, just after Sharif identified himself as a Muslim and just before the attack Enright yelled, “Assalamu Alaikum. Consider this a checkpoint.”

All we can say with any assurance at this point is that the facts as we know them do not fit clearly into patterns we might expect. We’ll keep digging and bring you more information as we find it.

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