April 7, 2005
Blood-feast in BerkeleyBy Thomas Lifson
On March 18th, a shocking crime took place in Berkeley, California, at a spot famous for sweeping Bay views, distinguished architecture, and the genteel atmosphere that wealthy 'progressives' create for themselves. An elderly woman, walking home with her husband from an extension class at the University of California, was grabbed by a young woman who was walking toward her on the sidewalk. In a flash, her throat was slit to the bone.
As she spurted blood, the suspect drove off with her companion, another young woman, in a light blue BMW M3 convertible, a car which carries a suggested retail price of 55 thousand dollars.
Astoundingly, the victim survived the attack, thanks to the many witnesses who called for police and medical assistance, and after six hours in surgery and an extended stay in intensive care, has been released from the hospital. The 75 year old also survived being struck by lightning in her youth.
From the beginning, police and prosecutors were very cagey in revealing information about the case. The victim's name was not published in the press, for reasons of 'security.' Two days after the crime, a suspect was apprehended, a sixteen year old juvenile, whose name was withheld, as is the usual case with juveniles. She was jailed and then ordered to undergo psychological examination. Subsequent press reports indicated that the suspect had a history of both mental illness and violent attacks. She had escaped from a care facility.
But the most curious aspect of the case is the identity, behavior, and subsequent official treatment of the companion. Eleven days after the incident, the press revealed that she was a county mental health worker assigned to Juvenile Hall. Still declining to reveal her name, authorities placed the juvenile mental health worker on paid administrative leave, despite the fact that she had witnessed, if not participated in a horrific crime, had not reported it to the police, and had accompanied the perpetrator in her escape.
Yesterday, April 6th, the press learned the name of the alleged companion, as police issued a warrant for her arrest. The Oakland Tribune reported
Berkeley police attempted to arrest Hamaseh Kianfar, 30, at her Marin County home Tuesday, but she was not there. Sources said negotiations were under way between authorities and Kianfar's attorney for her surrender.
A no—bail warrant has been issued for Kianfar's arrest.
Kianfar was reported to be the owner of the BMW convertible used to get away from the scene of the crime.
Disturbingly, it was revealed that Kianfar had been questioned by police twice regarding the incident, and had changed her story.
Sources said Kianfar originally told police she just happened to be driving by when she spotted the teenager.
Her second story to police was that she was visiting friends in North Oakland and afterward spotted Webster looking distraught on Telegraph Avenue. Knowing the girl's history, Kianfar said she decided to give the teenager a ride, and they ended up in the Berkeley hills, where the attack occurred.
Despite prima facie evidence of lying to the police, in addition to witnessing and failing to report a very serious crime, and apparently facilitating the escape of the assailant, she was not arrested at the time.
Authorities believe Kianfar drove with the juvenile suspect to the scene of the crime, and the juvenile got out of the passenger seat. After the attack, witnesses said, the slasher and her companion walked quickly to a light—blue BMW M3 convertible, got in and drove away.
Berkeley police initially called the mystery woman who was with the slasher an "accomplice." After they arrested the 16—year—old suspect, however, police said they had identified the companion and had not arrested her.
Why the kid glove treatment of a woman entrusted with the responsibility of care for mentally disturbed juveniles? Especially, given the fact that, according to Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson
...it was county policy for social workers stationed at Juvenile Hall not to spend time with clients off the premises, other than in special sanctioned cases...
After the arrest warrant was issued, Kianfar's attorney reportedly negotiated conditions of her surrender, and she surrendered to Oakland police yesterday, April 6th,
But the special treatment of Kianfar continues. Despite the no—bail condition of the warrant issued for her arrest, Kanfar was released on $15,000 bail (just over a quarter of the list price of her high performance sports car), the 'standard' amount for someone charged with being accessory—after—the—fact in an attempted homicide, the only charge currently lodged.
But, shockingly and inexplicably:
For unknown reasons, Kianfar was not booked, fingerprinted or photographed by Oakland police Wednesday, authorities said. She was also given a May 6 court date; Felony suspects are generally required to appear in court within 48 hours.
So who on earth is this woman, Hamaseh Kianfar?
Unless there are two women of the same name living in Marin County, California, she appears to be quite an interesting and indeed prominent character. Amazon.com lists her as the author of the book Sufi Stories, the holder of master's degree and candidate for a Ph.D.
Global Solidarity: The Way to Peace and International Cooperation. This Conference brought together United Nations NGO from around the world in an effort to build bridges among us to explore viable ways for civil society to generate action plans focused on development, peace, human rights and environmental issues.
Sufism itself is a venerable and highly respectable religious practice, based on mysticism, originally growing from Islamic roots, but developing in complex ways, not all of them part of Islam. Many famous Islamic writers, philosophers, and poets have been Sufis.
Since they believe that everything is a reflection of God, the school of Sufism practices to see the beauty inside the apparently ugly, and to open arms to what they believe as even the most evil one. [emphasis added] This religious tolerance is expressed in Sufism by the famous Sufi philosopher and poet Mevlana Rumi : "Come, come, whoever you are. Worshiper, Wanderer, Lover of Leaving; ours is not a caravan of despair. Though you have broken your vows a thousand times...Come, come again, Come." (In many Unitarian Universalist youth groups this poem is sung with minor alterations)
Because of its mysticism, and because it espouses peace and tolerance and believes in accepting everyone, Sufism, in America in particular, has been embraced by many in the 'new age' religious movement in the United States. Marin—County—based IAS appears to be itself quite open to this version of ecumenism, featuring speakers expert in in 'trans—personal psychology' and other new—agey fields at its symposia.
The Oakland Tribune reports
a law enforcement source said an Alameda County grand jury could launch its own investigation into Kianfar's relationship with the teenage suspect and possibly other wards at juvenile hall.
This last hint that Kianfar may have had other improper relationships with mentally—troubled juveniles is particularly chilling given one other morsel appearing in he press: the suspect's apparent stated reason for committing the crime. According to the Oakland Tribune,
[the suspect] called the throat slashing a "feasting" ritual. Sources said feasting is the consumption of human blood.
Aside from the spunky Oakland Trib, Bay Area news media have been extremely reticent about revealing any details related to the role of Kianfar in the hideous crime. One would think that the combination of the brutality of the attack, a wealthy and prominent accomplice, the curious manner of police, prosecutorial and judicial handling of the accomplice, and the lurid detail of blood—feasting would lead to an avalanche of coverage.
But Bay Area media do have their sensitivities. San Francisco Chronicle star columnist Joan Ryan probably spoke for many local editors and reporters when she broke out her handkerchief and wrote a sob sister column on the poor, oppressed perp:
she stood on tip—toes, peering through the door of the holding room to see if her grandmother and sister had arrived yet, as if she were backstage at a school play....
seemed oddly energized, almost perky, turning in her seat at the defendant's table to smile at her family....
we may have glimpsed the kind of amorality that some call evil, and everything in us says smooth—faced 16—year—old girls smiling at their grandmas cannot be evil....
the dearth of mental—health services in the county....
And through voices of sources she quotes:
"The mental health system for juveniles in this state is really broken,'' said Nancy Yalon, assistant chief of juvenile probation for San Francisco....
"We see kid after kid after kid with no parental upbringing. Abandoned, neglected kids with no value system at all''....
"In a month,'' she said, "nobody is even going to be talking about this.''
If the dominant Bay Area media get their way, the public may never know just what the heck is going on here.
The national media has not yet caught on to what is up in the Alameda County justice system. Aside from the Oakland Tribune, the smallest and least influential of the four Bay Area dailies, nobody in the Bay Area media world is going to take up the case.
Where are the National Enquirer and Geraldo Rivera when you need them?
Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.
Thanks to Kristin Bender of the Oakland Tribune for correcting two minor errors in the first edition of this report.