An honor killer and his accomplices finally face justice

AuthorProf. Phyllis Chesler
Published date27 January 2021
She has never been charged, although her husband, son and brother-in-law are all behind bars at last.

At the time, I spoke to some of the women in Tissy's family, who confirmed that Yaser Said had routinely battered, sexually violated, and threatened his daughters with death. His wife covered this up, minimized and denied it, and forced the girls to recant what they had once told child welfare officials.

Their brother Islam pleaded guilty last week to three felonies related to helping his fugitive father evade capture. Islam Said also stalked and threatened his sisters. He was following his father's explicit orders as well as the example he set.

Yaser Abdel Said was arrested last August. His brother, Yassein, is due to stand trial on Monday for his role in helping Yaser Said evade capture. Yassein and Islam Said harbored Yaser inside an apartment in Bedford, Texas until a maintenance worker spotted Yaser on Aug. 14, 2017. After the maintenance worker reported the sighting to the FBI, an agent was dispatched to interview Islam, but Islam refused to cooperate.

He later harbored his father inside a home in Justin, Texas that belonged to his cousin. On Aug. 25, 2020 FBI agents saw Islam and Yassein Said deliver grocery bags to the residence, then followed the men to a shopping center 20 miles away, where they dumped trash retrieved from the home.

After hearing of the girls' murders, I wanted to hear what a mother and a brother in such a family might sound like. I wanted to give them a chance to tell me the story from their point of view. I got Islam on the phone more than a decade ago, and before I could ask him anything, he started cursing, threatening, warning me never to call him again. His rage started at a super-sonic level and then escalated into the stratosphere. I once got Tissy on the phone too—she whispered, "I'm not supposed to talk to you," but with an edge of viciousness (or terror) in her voice. She told me not to call her.

What a mother. I kept calling for the police to arrest Tissy as an accomplice, but they never have. At a certain point, I decided that she might be mentally impaired as well as a victim of domestic violence. She did marry Yaser Said when she was 14-15 years old and when he was already twice her age.

Women do play a role in honor killings. I published a study in 2015 about that. It found that women's roles in honor violence tends to be minimized because male-on-female violence is far more visible, dramatic, and...

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