The Seattle district attorney tried Naveed Haq, accused Seattle federation attacker once and the trial ended in a mistrial. Despite the fact that Haq has a long history of mental illness along with mental health professionals who testified in the first trial to the fact that his illness destroyed his ability to apprehend reality, the county prosecutor is trying again. I fear that he is doing so because this has become a political, as much as a legal trial. He doesn’t want to be perceived by the local Jewish community as being soft of Muslim extremism (even though Haq was so disturbed that he at one time renounced his religion and became a Christian). The organized community leadership is leading the charge, in my opinion, in calling for judgment against Haq. They were not satisfied with the mistrial and they’ve pressured the King County prosecutor for a second attempt.
The prosecutor betrays the willful confusion of its case:
Senior deputy prosecutor Don Raz argued that although Haq clearly suffers from mental illness, his actions cannot be attributed to his disorder. Rather, the shootings were a deliberate choice made out of anger, not delusion.
“Naveed Haq’s mental illness did not cause him to attack the Jewish Federation,” Raz said. “His anger did.”
Anyone with even a limited understanding of mental illness understands that irrational rage or anger is one of the most common symptoms of mental illness especially mental illness that manifests itself in violent acts. Unless you want to argue that Haq is a Muslim extremist programmed to kill Jews, it is clear his mental illness led him to the attack.
If you polled most of the victims of this tragedy or the individual members of our community I have little doubt that most would say: plea bargain this out and get him locked away in a mental health facility and stop treating him like he’s Al Qaeda. Haq should be treated as any mentally disturbed violent individual would be. He should be monitored closely and incarcerated as a dangerous person. But this retrial is a betrayal of our understanding of mental illness and doesn’t characterize the liberal attitude prevalent in our community on such issues..