‘I know the whole world will think of him as a dead terrorist. But he’s still my brother.’

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Here’s what’s going on.

What we’re talking about

Jackie Farwell’s interview with the brother of the Freeport man who died fighting for the Islamic State posted this afternoon. You can read it here.

Jabbar Fazeli, a geriatrician who is chairman of the board of the Maine Medical Association, reported his brother Adnan to the FBI back in 2014, he told Jackie.

… While Adnan warped into someone he no longer recognized, Jabbar said he grieved his loss. Even though he understood that his decision to report him to the FBI entailed risk — for both of them.

“I know the whole world will think of him as a dead terrorist. But he’s still my brother,” he said.

Jabbar said he spent a day thinking through whether his brother posed an immediate threat before calling the FBI in April 2014. As a physician, he weighed the benefits and risks, he said.

He considered that other individuals in the Portland area could also get recruited. He worried that violence could come to his community. He feared another savage act being perpetrated in his people’s name. Perhaps most of all, he couldn’t bear the prospect of Adnan’s children moving to Syria and being sold into slavery or married off at 14 in the event of their father’s death.

Though the decision was difficult, he didn’t hesitate, he said.

“It was a no brainer, but it was painful. It’s like you’re deciding to amputate a foot, but there’s no other way,” he said.

Read the full story here. 

ICYMI

This case shows there are no simple political answers to the Islamic State threat — Mike Shepherd reports: 

Of Fazeli’s case, Sarah Lyons-Padilla, a research scientist at Stanford University in California who was part of the group that wrote the paper on radicalization, said, “if someone only became radicalized after moving to the United States, there is no reason to believe that a stronger vetting process would have prevented their entry.

“Rather than enforce stricter immigration standards,” she said, “politicians looking to protect the U.S. against the threat of violent extremism should focus on preventing alienation of immigrant and minority communities who are already here.”

And Robert Morrison, a religion professor at Bowdoin College who focuses on Islam, said while screening is vital, radicalization must be looked at more like other forms of violence — in the context of other experiences in a person’s life.

“Keeping more people out, it’s what [Islamic State] wants,” he said. “They want polarization.”

Westbrook police are investigating a written threat against Muslims — It wasn’t clear whether the threat was related to recent coverage of Fazeli, but Westbrook police are investigating the report of a threat after anti-Muslim notes were found at the Westbrook Pointe apartment complex. The pieces of paper read: “All Muslims are Terrorists should be killed.” The Press Herald previously reported that Fazeli at one point lived in a building that’s part of that complex.

And now for something completely different — Here are the proposed designs for a streetlight sculpture at Woodfords Corner. The area is getting a multimillion-dollar redesign, which will feature a sculpture by Portland artist Aaron Stephan. 

The Big Idea

When Maine wasn’t looking, more babies began to die — Adanya Lustig and Erin Rhoda look into why Maine’s infant mortality rate is higher than the national average and why a panel created by Legislature to analyze infant deaths can’t explain the rise. Our data scientist Jake Emerson also added some context.


Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the editor of BDN Portland. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.