LIVING IN FEAR: Family calls woman's murder "an act of terrorism"

- A startling murder in 2017 out of Surprise remains a mystery.

Last june, 57-year-old Amal Bahjat was found dead in her Surprise home. However, that's all police have said, with no details about how, why, or who did the crime.

Now, the woman's family says they're fed up with the lack of information, and have even gone so far as to call their family member's murder an act of terrorism.

"We're in fear, we're terrified, and that was our only hope, to deliver this message, to see if something can happen," said a family member.

Bahjat's family came to FOX 10 Phoenix, after what they say has been too long of a time with little to no help from Surprise Police. Family members, out of a concern for safety, did not want to be identified.

Bahjat was from Iraq, and her family came from Israel.

"I'm not sure fear is enough word to express how we really feel," said the family member. "It's been terrifying. It's a disgusting act. That's the only fitting word I can use."

The family's frustration began with the details they claim Surprise Police has kept from the public. They say a chilling message was written in Arabic on one of their house walls, and the murder was based on Bahjat's conversion from Islam to Christianity.

"We have experienced this," said the family member. "We left our home country, came here legally, obeyed the law, here to work and live, but terrorism still came to our house."

For the grieving family, the clear answer for their mother's death is terrorism. Meanwhile, Surprise Police Department worked with the FBI and DPS early in the investigation.

"From the beginning of this investigation, we brought in other agencies to assist us, including the FBI, and I think it's important to note that if the FBI who was on scene discovered any evidence that a federal crime had occurred, they would have been the ones who had taken the lead on this, and that simply hasn't happened. Surprise Police Department remains the lead agency," said Sgt. Tim Klarkowski with the Surprise Police Department.

Bahjat's family says the warning signs were there, and that Amal's murder was preventable.

"A month prior to that, they attempted to kidnap [Amal Bahjat] from our neighborhood," said the family member. "She contacted the police, the police didn't do anything. They didn't take this matter seriously at all."

When asked, police couldn't comment on some of the claims made.

"The investigation is ongoing, so commenting on nay of the specific details wouldn't be appropriate," said Sgt. Klarkowski. "Public safety is our top concern."

The Police Department also believes that public safety is not at risk.

"It's important to note that throughout our investigation process, if we determined there was any danger to the public or any portion of the public, we would share that information immediately," said Sgt. Klarkowski. "This appears, however, to be an isolated incident."

"I told them if we're suspects, put us in jail," said the family member. "If you believe we did something like this, put us in jail."

For Bahjat's family, every day that passes with no new information is another frustrating one.

"He looks at Islam like it's a mafia, anyone that wants to leave the mafia is gonna die," said the family member.

To some. perhaps a shocking agreement in this political climate.

"Every word that [President Donald Trump] says is 100% true, about keeping the country safe, understanding and looking into who comes into this country and who leaves the country," said the family member.

The FBI released a statement to FOX 10 Phoenix on this case, saying, in part, that they worked cooperatively in assistance to the Suprise Police Department. They also encouraged anyone with information to submit tips to Surprise Police


Submit a crime tip to Surprise Police
crimetips@surpriseaz.gov

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