UNC Hit-And-Run Suspect Shares Thoughts In Letters
Posted May 11, 2006 10:05 a.m. EDT
Updated December 31, 2006 10:53 a.m. EST
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — One of a series of six letters from the man charged with driving through a popular meeting spot at Carolina is titled "A search for truth and reality." The handwritten diatribes show what is in the mind the man who claims he was seeking revenge against Americans.
From the beginning, Mohammed Taheri-azar stated that he drove an SUV through a crowded group at UNC to avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world. The letters he wrote to UNC Daily Tar Heel reporter Shannan Bowen, in response to a letter she wrote him six weeks ago, give his thoughts after two months behind bars.
"He went really in-depth," said Bowen. "He answered all 39 questions and added what he calls meditations."
In his responses, Taheri-azar says he feels no remorse. He has not allowed his family to visit since March 24, calling them "American Taxpayers". He claims also that he is not guilty, and does not deserve to be punished.
The one question he did not completely answer was whether or not he considered himself a terrorist. He calls 9/11 attacker Mohammed Atta a role model, but stops short of labeling himself. He said he wanted Bowen's opinion first.
Taheri-Azar is not charged with terrorism, and District Attorney Jim Woodall said the federal government may never seek such a charge.
"I think they believe he acted alone, and because he acted alone, it may not meet the criteria for a terrorist attack," said District Attorney Jim Woodall.
Attempted murder and assault charges could still keep Taheri-Azar behind bars for more than 150 years. Woodall believes the 23-year-old is mentally stable and eager for people to listen to him.
"It seems like the primary purpose was to draw attention to himself and the causes he espouses, and he has done that," he said.
A native of Iran, Taheri-azar is a 2005 graduate of UNC-CH. He was taken into custody after calling authorities from his rented SUV after the incident. He reportedly told authorities that he had planned the attack two months in advance.
Taheri-azar now faces nine counts of attempted first-degree murder. His trial is expected to begin before next spring.