Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Missing Aisha Khan: What's Being Muslim Got to Do with It?

Beautiful 19-year-old Aisha Khan went missing recently from an Overland Park, Kansas community college campus. Unlike most girls who go missing, religion is more than fifty percent of the discussion and debate raging on news and blog post comments. Some of the comments are just nasty crap attacking Muslims and Islam in general. Some people wonder if her family is involved in her disappearance, some kind of honor killing or Sharia related violence. Others wonder if the young bride of three weeks was forced into an arranged marriage and she ran away because she was unhappy or because she had a boyfriend she loves that she had to give up. Some people are getting mad because any cultural or religious issues are being brought up at all and point out that if this were a White, Christian girl gone missing, people would simply be looking for a serial killer considering that in her last phone message and text to her sister at approximately 11 am , she said she was being harassed by a creepy, bad smelling man who she had to slap to get him away from her and he had been mad. She said the incident was really scary and her heart was beating out of her chest.

That was the last she was heard from. Her cousin went to the campus and found her books, her cell phone, iPod, and some stories say her backpack (and it has not been mentioned if she has a wallet with ID and money) as well, laying on an isolated table where she had been studying. Aisha has not been seen since.

So what could have happened to Aisha? What should the police be doing? Well, all of those questions and theories being bandied about on message boards are not all unreasonable. There are three basic possibilities; one, she was abducted, two, she was murdered by family and an abduction staged, or, three, she ran away and staged an abduction.

We can eliminate the "murdered by family" one first. There WAS a phone call from Aisha and unless her sister was imitating her voice and making a phone call from Aisha's phone to her own, then Aisha was alive on campus at 11 am. Someone could have forced her to make the call and then killed her but this going pretty Hollywood. I watched her family on television and they seem very distraught. They are truly searching for Aisha and they have reached out to all religious communities. Aisah is Muslim but I see nothing in the family that leads me to believe they would have enacted any honor killing of any sort. She is seen with very proper Hijab and without and with her head covered with a headscarf but not tightly, her hairline showing. She seems to be a modest Muslim girl but not severely strict. I can't tell exactly where she is from but her name and her clothing indicate either Pakistan or India. I see no extremism of any sort that leads me to believe her family did her in and then staged an elaborate abduction.

On the other hand, the circumstances of the disappearance of Aisha are a bit odd. It was 11 in the morning when she supposedly was abducted. Kind of an odd time to grab a girl off of the campus. But could it have happened? Yes, because the location she was at is a bit isolated. She was studying at a table enclosed by three walls. The street was enough of a distance to find it hard to believe someone grabbed her and hauled her off to it without any trace of a struggle.

Then, we have the story of this creepy man harassing Aisha. He was smelly, maybe from marijuana or booze. She says she slapped him. She mentions being freaked out, but she says no more about the man. The message she left is odd. She says she is scared but she her voice is a bit flat; no sound of panic, no hyperventilation; she sounds more like she is just reporting a disturbing event that she was weirded out by but is fully finished and done. This would seem to indicate the man was long gone, off down the street and out-of-sight. Would she then sit back down at the table in this isolated spot and continue studying? One would think not unless she was totally confident he was not returning. More likely, even if he were gone from view, if her heart was beating like crazy and she was so upset, she would grab her books and go. Instead she makes six calls and texts over nine minutes from that same location after the alleged attack; a long time to hang around in an area one feels unsafe. This just doesn't sit well with me.

The alternative is that she slapped the man, he went around the corner out of sight, and then came right back to get her. But, there is no sign of a struggle Her phone is lying on the table, not smashed on the ground or missing. How did he take her away? If he was some messed up druggie or homeless guy as some have suggested, would he even have a car to take her away in? Was she taken in a car? Aisha didn't mention a vehicle at all. She, actually, didn't describe the man either outside of saying he was creepy and smelly and tried to kiss her. Was he old, young, White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Arab? So, there are a few things here that don't make a lot of sense. Why?

Well, it could be that we are missing a lot of information. Maybe there was a street right there. Maybe there is more in the text message we haven't heard about. Maybe Aisha sounds rather controlled even when she is in a panic. Maybe she has a tendency to minimize bad things and then go straight back to what she was doing. This is what the police need to find out by analyzing the evidence and in interviewing the family. There was another young woman, Kelsey Smith, abducted from Overland Park parking lot in 2007 who was later found murdered. However, the perpetrator of that crime was found and convicted, so he could not have abducted Aisha.

Could Aisha have run away? Yes, she could have. There is nothing as of yet to prove there was an abduction. Maybe she did have issues. Some say she might have been forced into an arranged marriage because she is so young. And Muslim. Possible? Yes. But, this doesn't mean she is unhappy. Many people in the world have arranged marriages and are perfectly content with them. Arranged marriages vary as much as nonarranged marriages. Nonarranged marriages can be anything from an impulsive Las Vegas marriage after a boozy night with a stranger, to a whirlwind romance ending in a marriage after three months together, or a very careful analysis of compatibility that ends in marriage after five or ten years. Some nonarranged marriages don't care what the parents of the partners think and others won't marry without their blessing.

Arranged marriages vary as well. Some bride and grooms never meet until the wedding day. Some have known each other for years. Some matches are arranged totally by the parents and the children have no say. Some set up matches but then allow the young woman and man meet and get to know each other and then agree to the marriage. I don't know what kind of marriage Aisha has; she could be very happy or extremely miserable, just like any of us a number of months into a marital state.

Would she run away? Well, she might if she were terribly unhappy and didn't know how to tell her parents and get out of the marriage. She COULD have a boyfriend. She could run away for reasons that have nothing to do with being married. She could want attention or just want a completely different life. Women who run away don't have to be Muslim women as Jennifer Wilbanks and a number of White, Christian women have proven.

I don't know at this point what happened to Aisha. I hope she is alive. She is a beautiful girl and seems to have a family who cares about her and is terribly bereft at her disappearance. I am sure they want her to come home. If someone has abducted her, the odds aren't good of her surviving and already too much time has passed without finding her. However, if they have done solid ground searches right in the area and have not found Aisha, she would have to have been taken in a car. This gives some small hope to her being kept captive some place rather than being dragged into the bushes and immediately being raped and murdered. The number of girls held captive is terribly minute, but it has happened and we can pray this is the situation.

If she has run away, I hope she calls home or is found soon. It is not right that that family has to think the worst if it isn't that way at all.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown


Anonymous said...

I am sure there are plenty of posters doing exactly what you say. However, how many times have we heard of a disappearance where people remarked about how many times a woman had been married, or she worked as stripper (escort, prostitute, fill in blank), had too many boyfriends, was wearing the wrong clothes, was the "wrong" race, was too petite, made the mistake of trying to help a stranger, ad nauseum. To many, it will always be the victim's fault.

Pat Brown said...

I wasn't speaking anywhere in this post about people "blaming" the victim. Also, explaining what put a victim in harm's way is by no means blaming them. It is simply part of understanding how they ended up being victimized and is useful to know for profiling the perpetrator and warning others about what behaviors can put one in harms way.

marcellomalibu said...

I agree with you that women who run away do not have to be Muslim. But this one definitely staged her exit. Her phone messages are a dead giveaway, the smelly "creep" is a stereotype, her reaction to him --the "slap" --sounds like an old movie cliché etc, etc.
I can't remember the name of the wife who ran away from her abusive husband and laid low while he was on Nancy Grace looking like the grieving caring husband. The missing wife eventually contacted the cops to let them know that she was alive & well & did not want to be found ... by her abusive husband. Hopefully, Aisha will also contact the police.

marcellomalibu said...

Writing from Los Angeles, I see was a little behind in the news: Aisha was found alive. Hopefully, she will find it in her heart to explain why she felt it was necessary to worry so many people.

Pat Brown said...

What Aisha clearly lacks is a conscience. This was a staged event, not just a girl driving away in a blind panic from some horrible incident and hiding away. She planned this, quite carefully. Her explanation will no doubt not be the truth but some way of excusing her own behavior, to justify why she victimized her family and the community. Just think what would have happened if suspicion had fallen on anyone in particular. Then that person would have been subject to having his life ruined.

Aisha needs to be charged (although I hear the police are not going to do it) and the family needs to apologize (they had to have suspicions that this girl has a personality disorder and is a manipulator and a liar) to everyone. They should pay all costs of the investigation and do community service work with real victims. They need to tell Aisha to go jump.