The Harris County District Attorney (Houston, Texas) is prosecuting a man for one murder and suspect his involvement in another that have been identified as alleged honor killings. The practice of honor killing has long gone out of style in most of the world. But, in some parts of the Muslim world it is a fundamental tenant of their religion as interpreted under Sharia Law .
That religion and our world in Texas have collided twice in the last three years as Ali Irsan, 57, is now charged in the shooting death of a 30-year-old woman outside her parents apartment near the Houston Galleria in 2012. Irsan is now also considered to be the prime suspect in the 2012 death of his son-in-law, Coty Beavers at his apartment in northwest Houston.
“These two murders are linked by the belief on the defendant’s part that his honor as a father and a Muslim has been violated by his daughter, who defied his rule and married a Christian man,” said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson.
The first victim, Gelareh Bagherzadeh, was a 30-year-old graduate student and researcher at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and as the Houston Police and the District Attorney’s office tell the story, she was shot and killed by Irsan after Bagherzadeh helped convert his daughter to Christianity. That killing occurred in Houston on January 15th, 2012.
KPRC-2 reported that detectives said Ali Irsan, 57, a Jordanian national who was living in Montgomery County, a conservative Muslim, could not find his daughter, and that he harassed Bagherzadeh. The woman would not tell him of his daughter’s whereabouts. Bagherzadeh was shot and killed when she arrived home late one night, with four shots through the passenger side window. One of the shots hit her in the head, killing her instantly. Her purse, wallet, and cell phone were on the front seat. Detectives ruled out robbery as a motive.
According to HPD Detective Sgt. J.C. Padilla, there was a theory about the possibility of an assassination by Iranian intelligence. A $200,000 reward in the case was offered by Crime Stoppers of Houston. Bagherzadeh was a known activist for women’s rights in Iran. She previously participated in demonstrations in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
Nesreen Irsan had left home to get away from her domineering father, converted to Christianity. She then married Coty Beavers, a Christian and the twin brother of Bagherzadeh’s boyfriend, Cory Beavers, the surviving twin, told KPRC-2. “We know there’s still a long way to go but it feels like there’s been a huge weight lifted off our shoulders with these arrests.”
Beavers murder happened on November 12, 2012 at his apartment in northwest Houston. He lived there with his wife, Nesreen. He was last seen alive when he walked his wife, Irsan’s daughter, to her car around 5:45 that morning.
His body was discovered at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 12, inside his northwest Houston apartment at 10801 Legacy Park Drive.
He was shot multiple times by a handgun. Given the lack of physical evidence in both crimes and the almost professional nature with which they were carried out, at the time many friends and family believe the murders were purposefully arranged.
At a news conference on Thursday, District Attorney Anderson said “Today is an important day for the families of Gelareh and Coty Beavers,” Anderson said. “It has taken a long time, but I assure you we have never forgotten about your loved ones. We can’t bring them back, but our goal to get justice for them will continue. The cooperation between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies investigating this complicated case has been and will remain remarkable.”
In addition to those two murders, Montgomery County investigators have reopened the 1999 shooting of another of Irsan’s son-in-laws, reports KHOU-11. According to his death certificate, Amjad Alidam was shot and killed by Irsan but the case was ruled self-defense.
Irsan’s daughter and Alidam’s wife, Nesreen, later told police the shooting was staged.
According to a search warrant obtained by KHOU, Nesreen Irsan told investigators that her father lured Alidam to the family’s home and then shot Alidam with a shotgun.
Nesreen Irsan said her father then fired a pistol into the wall and placed the gun near Alidam’s body to make it appear that he was threatened and fired at Irsan first, the station reports.
Irsan has not been charged in that case but the investigation continues.
In addition, Irsan’s wife Ashmou Alrawabdeh, and his son Nasim Irsan, are also charged with murder. His daughter, Nadia Irsan, is charged with stalking in the murder of Beavers. They are all in the Harris County jail after being convicted of federal charges of Social Security fraud. They are awaiting sentencing.
It appears Sharia Law has been creeping in to Texas faster than some might want to admit. Breitbart Texas’ Bob Price broke a story in January that an Islamic Tribunal was operating in Irving, Texas, a Dallas suburb. As reported by Breitbart Texas in January, the voluntary tribunal has been handling a variety of cases. Some of those cases involve settling family disputes. While the Tribunal states that it follows Sharia Law, it makes no mention of the practice of honor killings.
The website for the Islamic Tribunal states, “The courts of the United States of America are costly and consist of ineffective lawyers. Discontent with the legal system leads many Muslims in America to postpone justice in this world and opt for an audience on the Day of Judgment.” Or sometimes, it appears, Muslim followers will take Sharia Law into their own hands.
The site goes on to state, “It is with this issue that Muslims here in America are obligated to find a way to solve conflicts and disputes according to the principles of Islamic Law and its legal heritage of fairness and justice in a manner that is reasonable and cost effective.”
In a post on Breitbart’s National Security by Pamela Geller, the anti-Muslim activist wrote, “These Sharia courts are vicious, misogynistic, and brutal. The host countries have no clue what goes on in these ‘tribunals.’ They should be banned in Western nations. Instead, they’re coming to Texas – and probably soon to your state as well.”
The State of Texas is looking at doing something to stop the spread of Sharia Law in the Lone Star State. State Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) co-authored a bill to codify the supremacy of U.S. law in Texas over any foreign laws. In March, Breitbart Texas reporter Merrill Hope wrote about a move by the Irving City Council to support passage of Leach’s bill, HB 562. “It is something that should make perfect sense,” she wrote, “that the laws of the United States and Texas, and their respective constitutions supersede foreign law.”
“This bill does not mention, at all, Muslims, Sharia Law, Islam, even religion. It specifically talks about foreign laws not taking precedent over US laws and those of the state of Texas,” Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne stated during the council meeting.
As it stands now, Ali Isran will soon face sentencing in the Social Security fraud case, which will mean Federal prison time. Harris County, which holds the record for having the greatest number of residents on death row in Huntsville, will most likely try Isran for murder in whichever case has the greatest physical evidence, or the best case for a conviction. Breitbart Texas will be following the proceedings as they work their way through the justice system.
Bob Price contributed to this article.
Rob Milford is a news contributor for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Facebook.