Officials originally speculated robbery or revenge by a disgruntled former tenant might have motivated the slayings-but further investigation appears to have ruled these possibilities out.Valuable jewelry and cash were untouched,and the former tenant seems to have been accounted for.
The victims -all devout Coptic Orthodox Church members from Egypt-were: Hossam Armanious,age 47, his wife Amal Garal,age 37,and their daughters: Sylvia,age 16 and Monica,age 8.
It has been learned, from friends and associates of the family,Mr. Armanious had become involved in a "message board" run by paltalk.com ,and that he had recently become one of the board Moderators.
His particular board was Middle-East centered,and there were,according to friends,increasingly bitter exchanges about religion with Muslims.One poster,who claimed to be Muslim,had threatened to "track you down like a chicken and kill you."
Jersey City has a relatively heavy "Middle-Eastern" population-some of whom have been involved in Muslim extremist activities.
The "Blind Sheikh" and several of his co-conspirators in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing were all Jersey City-centered,and it is believed Islamic terror cells still exist in this city.
It may well be there was some other motive behind these murders,and the possibility of an Islamist link should be approached with caution.
(Sources: AP,NY Times, NY Post)
UPDATE: 01/18/05 - The Hudson County Prosecutor's Office has released information suggesting strongly robbery may have been the motive for these slayings.
Mr. Arminious' pockets had been turned inside out-as had the women's purses. The only cash found in the house was a single penny on the floor.
Relatives still think there might have been an Islamic connection,and it has been reported "a relative" of the deceased had been assisting federal prosecutors (as a translator) in the Lynne Stewart case.(Stewart was charged with carrying "terror instructions" from Sheikh Abdel Rachman to cell members on the outside.)