‘Die, my daughter, die!’ An old-world ‘honor killing’ in modern St. Louis

This is one of the most shocking stories I have read in a long time. I thought honor killings were mostly to do with involvement in sexual relations or the suspicion of such conduct. Apparently not. It appears this man left his hometown but the cultural norms and values remained ingrained. As for the “Catholic” mother, I am still trying to fathom which aspect of Catholicism forbids anyone of any age, taking a job or even being in a relationship. What a tragic end.


How FBI’s terror bug  caught parents red-handed, stabbing teenager Tina Isa to death


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Ed Lallo/Time & Life  Pictures/Getty Image

Immigrant high school student Tina Isa, 16, posed in the hallway at  Roosevelt High School. Her father stabbed her to death for rebelling against his  old-country mores — and the FBI caught the whole thing on a bug planted in  their home.

Like many teenagers, Tina Isa didn’t listen to her parents.

They lived in different worlds, in effect.

Her father, Zein Isa, was a Palestinian Muslim with Old World ideas about  how his child should and should not behave. His wife, Maria, a Brazilian  Catholic, was more a martinet than a mother.

But Tina was a headstrong modern girl growing up in big-city St. Louis, not  some medieval village.

At age 16, she was a bright senior honors student at rugged Roosevelt High  School. She dreamed of studying aeronautics in college. She wanted to learn to  fly.

She liked hip hop music and giggled with girlfriends about cute boys.

“She was so American,” a schoolmate said.

Zein and Maria Isa tried to keep their daughter — the youngest of four — on  a short leash. They discouraged her from playing sports and forbid her from  going on school trips.

Her father decreed that she was destined for an arranged marriage with a  good Muslim from his West Bank hometown.

She was not allowed to date or take a job. When she managed to steal away to  the junior prom, they tracked her down and hauled her home.

Six weeks into Tina’s senior year, her parents began the process of  withdrawing her from school for disobeying “family rules.” During a conference  with the girl’s guidance counselor, Maria Isa described her daughter as a  “tramp” and a “whore.”

Police photo of Palestinian emigre grocer Zein Isa, wearing blood-stained sweater, with bloodied hands, standing at home after he stabbed his 16-year-old daughter Tina to death.

Ed Lallo/Time & Life  Pictures/Getty Image

Police photo of Palestinian emigre  grocer Zein Isa, wearing blood-stained sweater, with bloodied hands, standing at  home after he stabbed his 16-year-old daughter Tina to death.

On Nov. 6, 1989, Tina was late coming home.

Her parents were waiting, glaring through the windows, as a classmate — a  boy she had secretly begun dating — walked her to the door.

When she stepped inside, her mother fumed, “Where were you, bitch?”

Tina explained that she had taken a part-time job at a Wendy’s restaurant a  mile from home and had just finished her first shift.

“We do not accept that — to work!” shouted her father. He raged about  fornication with the boy and called his daughter a “she-devil.”

For several minutes, they argued in a mix of English and Arabic about whether  Tina would be allowed to continue living with her parents.

“Come on, throw me out!” Tina said. “OK, here is my key.”

During the argument, Maria Isa searched Tina’s school bag, interrogating her  about shoes, books and a newspaper she found inside.

The father suddenly cut off the conversation.

“Listen, my dear daughter, do you know that this is the last day?” Zein Isa  said.

“Huh?” Tina replied.

Before killing his daughter Tina, Zein Isa asked her: "Do you know that you are going to die tonight?"

 Before killing his daughter Tina,  Zein Isa asked her: “Do you know that you are going to die tonight?”

“Do you know that you are going to die tonight?”

When he returned from the kitchen with a 7-inch boning knife, Tina grasped  that he was serious. She cried out, “Mother, please help me!”

“What help?” the mother replied. “Are you going to listen? Are you going to  listen?”

“Yes! Yes! Yes, I am!”

But it was too late. As her mother pinned the screaming girl to the living  room floor, her father raised the knife and buried it in her left breast six  times.

“No! Please!” she shouted.

“Shut up!” her mother replied.

“Die! Die quickly!” said the father.

After one final death groan, he added, “Quiet, little one! Die, my daughter,  die!”

The parents then called 911 to announce that Tina had attacked them. Zein Isa  told police he had killed her in self-defense.

St. Louis detectives were trying to make sense of the case the next day when  they were contacted by the FBI.

Maria Isa held her daughter Tina down as her husband stabbed the teen to death.

 Maria Isa held her daughter Tina down  as her husband stabbed the teen to death.

Zein Isa, who owned a small grocery store, had been under surveillance as a  member of a Midwest-based terrorist cell linked to Abu Nidal, a jihadist group.  The seven-minute Isa family argument culminating in the stone-hearted murder had  been recorded via a bug planted in their home.

FBI agents heard every mortifying word when they reviewed the tapes the next  morning.

The press called it an “honor killing,” though Zein and Maria Isa stuck to  their story that the girl had struck first.

The FBI recording was damning evidence when the two went on trial for  first-degree murder in the fall of 1991. They did little to encourage sympathy,  and both were convicted.

At her sentencing, Maria Isa told the judge that it was all Tina’s  fault.

“My daughter was very disrespectful and very rebellious,” she said. “We  should not have to pay with our lives for something she did.”

Judge Charles Shaw disagreed and sentenced both to die.

In 1993, as he sat waiting among Missouri’s condemned, Zein Isa was indicted  with four other men on racketeering charges for plotting terrorism. All of them,  including Isa, were naturalized American citizens who had grown up in the same  West Bank town, Beitin.

Charges were dropped against Isa since they were redundant to his death  sentence. The others pleaded guilty in 1994, and each served about two years in  federal prison.

Isa didn’t make it to the executioner’s gurney. He died behind bars of  diabetes in 1997. That same year, Maria Isa’s death sentence was reduced to life  without parole after an appeals court ruled that her brutality should have been  considered separately from that of her husband.

Now 70, Maria Isa is still locked up in a Missouri penitentiary, 24 years  after witnessing her daughter die, begging for mercy that she would not  bestow.

Culled from nydailynews.com

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