NARRATIVE FAIL: Muslim College Student’s Murder Wasn’t A Trump-Related Hate Crime After All
Another Trump-related hate crime narrative vanished into thin air late last week when police arrested a twentysomething man with previous domestic violence convictions for the brutal murder of a University of Wisconsin–Stout student from Saudi Arabia.
The murder occurred in the wee hours of Oct. 30 in downtown Menomonie, Wisconsin, a few blocks from the UW-Stout campus. The victim, Hussain Saeed Alnahdi, died of a brain injury. He was 24 years old — a junior majoring in business administration.
UW-Stout student Hussain Saeed Alnahdi has died from injuries sustained in an assault, police still looking for suspect pic.twitter.com/PICZdLppiC
— Courtney Godfrey (@courtneygodfrey) October 31, 2016
On Thursday, police in St. Paul, Minnesota arrested Cullen M. Osburn for the murder. Upon his pending extradition to Wisconsin, Osburn will face charges of felony murder and battery.
Osburn, 27 and white, already has an impressive criminal past. When he was a lad of just 18, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Osburn allegedly attempted to strangle his 16-year-old girlfriend because she wouldn’t have sex with him. He told her he would “cut her face so no one would want her,” the girl said. He also allegedly said his “dream suicide moment” would be to die in a police shootout at her house.
Osburn was later convicted for defying a court order to avoid contact with someone — presumably, but not certainly, the 16-year-old girl.
In October, in the immediate aftermath of Alnahdi’s murder, local police and various national agitators suggested that the murder may have been a hate crime perpetrated either because of Alnahdi’s Muslim religious beliefs or because of his status as an immigrant — or, of course, because Donald Trump was a candidate for president at the time.
A complete lack of evidence did not stop the investigators and others from raising the possibility of a hate crime. The murder took place on a public street with multiple witnesses in the vicinity and, as Minneapolis City Pages observes, none of those witnesses appear to have offered any evidence for a hate crime.
Nevertheless, The Washington Post suggested on Nov. 1 that Alnahdi’s brutal murder came “at a time when Muslims in the United States have expressed deep concern that they will be the target of hate crimes.” “Many” unidentified “advocates” who are concerned about hate crimes “point to rhetoric from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has at various points called for a complete ban on Muslim immigrants,” the Post proclaimed just prior to the election.
The Post resorted to posting random Facebook comments about the murder to show that it might have been a hate crime. “The hate that has spread through our country is so sickening,” some unnamed Facebook user apparently wrote, for example.
The Post also pointed to data suggesting that hate crimes against Muslims have increased dramatically in the years since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. (RELATED: SHOCKER: Muslim College Student Drops Post-Election Hate Crime Claim)
Over at Daily Kos, also on Nov. 1, the tone and message was very similar to the sentiment expressed by The Washington Post.
“We need to wake up to the risk of a Trump presidency or even a close election that empowers his supporters to carry out the violence that is threatened toward immigrants and Muslims,” Daily Kos advised. “This may not turn out to be a hate crime, but that our thoughts immediately go this direction for a reason. We can’t be this kind of nation.”
“Please vote and help someone else to vote as well.”
A Nov. 2 article at the progressive website Truthout admitted that the altercation leading to Alnahdi’s death could have been “a bar fight gone wrong.” Still, “we need to wonder what role race might have played in this and not suggest that the very question implies unspeakable privilege.”
A Nov. 17 story by Saudi-owned television news channel Al Arabiya suggested that “the rise in Islamophobia in Donald Trump’s America” now has Saudis “watching their backs.”
Twitter users also entered the fray back when police were initially searching for a suspect in the brutal murder.
https://t.co/TXZxJCXuPT (presumably) Trump supporters beat Hussain Saeed Alnahdi to death in Wisconsin before the election
— kragen (@kragen) November 11, 2016
— Suzanne Schwing (@SuzanneSchwing) November 11, 2016
The criminal complaint against Osburn — available in full courtesy of the Journal Sentinel — suggests that Alnahdi was, in fact, murdered during something roughly approximating a bar fight.
The deadly scuffle occurred just after 2 a.m. outside a Topper’s Pizza in Menomonie. Alnahdi and Osburn allegedly encountered each other as Alnahdi was smoking a cigarette. Osburn was waiting outside the restaurant while two siblings and two friends ordered pizza inside.
The two men argued about something. (It’s not clear what.) One witness said Osburn had aggressively asked Alnahdi about something Alnahdi had said. Another witness said Alnahdi raised his hands in a way that suggested he did not want to fight.
Osburn allegedly cold-cocked Alnahdi. Specifically, witnesses say, Osburn “two pieced” Alnahdi, which means he punched him hard, in the face, twice in quick succession.
Alnahdi fell to the ground, hitting his head on the side of a building. He was bleeding from his nose and mouth. He was having trouble breathing.
A friend of Alnahdi and a friend of Osburn simultaneously tried to help Alnahdi.
At some point, Osburn fled the scene, according to the Journal Sentinel.
About a half mile away, at a Kwik Trip, a witness reported seeing Osburn charging his cell phone outside the store. The witness said Osburn approached his car and asked for a ride. Osburn also allegedly said he had “just punched somebody who was bleeding out,” according to CBS Minnesota.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the witness said he decided he did not want to give Osburn a ride. This rejection allegedly prompted Osburn to threaten “to fucking punch” the witness. The witness said he then observed that Osburn would also have to fight the witness’s friends, thus ending the exchange.
— Twin Cities Buzz (@TwinCitiesBuzz) January 16, 2017
Surveillance footage and a receipt for a pack of cigarettes confirm Osburn’s presence at the Kwik Trip, police say.
Menomonie police say that Osburn contacted an investigator on both Nov. 2 and Nov. 3. The investigator was interviewing his friends and family members at the time, according to the criminal complaint.
Osburn said he would speak to police with an attorney present but failed to follow through. Shortly thereafter, he disappeared.
When Osburn spoke to the police investigator, the Journal Sentinel notes, he insisted that his deadly fight was “not a result of anybody’s race.”