Catholic San Bernardino Victim Fled Islamic Extremism in Iran

Benneta Betbadal (GoFundMe)
Betbadal family (GoFundMe)

One of the victims of the San Bernardino massacre was an Iranian Roman Catholic who had fled Iran in 1987 to “escape Islamic extremism and the persecution of Christians that followed the Iranian Revolution,” according to a statement released by her family.

Bennetta Betbadal, 46, was among 14 people killed on Wednesday at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino by terrorists Syed Farook and his wife. The San Bernardino Sun reported that Betbadal (third from left, above) left Iran at the age of 18, first living in New York City and then relocating to California, where she married her husband, Arlen Verdehyou, in 1997. Verdehyou served as a police officer at Riverside Community College.

The couple moved to Rialto; at her death Betbadal left behind a daughter, 15, and two sons, 12 and 10.

Betbadal obtained a degree in chemistry from Cal Poly Pomona and also had a bachelor of science degree in biotechnology, later joining the San Bernardino County Health Department in 2006 as an inspector.

As a devout Catholic, in 2009 Betbadal posted a Facebook note to Ashur Bet Sargis, an Assyrian pop singer: “My dearest Ashur, I thank God for creating you, for creating such a wonderful loving human, and for giving you such a great talent. May our Lord Jesus be with you all the days of your life.”

Betbadal’s family released a statement on a GoFundMe page they that stated, “It is the ultimate irony that her life would be stolen from her that day by what appears to be the same type of extremism that she fled so many years ago.”

Some are calling Betbadal’s murder an example of the genocide of Christians extending beyond the Middle East.

“With Ms. Bennetta Betbadal’s death during the California terrorist attacks I am not sure how [House Foreign Affairs Committee] can avoid calling the death of [C]hristians down range a non genocide issue,” one activist said via email.


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