Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa's religion and Facebook posts: How Boulder shooting suspect stirred ‘he's Muslim’ debate
More details about the suspect have stirred quite a debate around his race, early life, family and controversial Facebook posts
Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa came to America in 2002. In a now-deleted Facebook page, the Boulder shooting suspect jotted down his thoughts and his bio revealed he was born in Syria in 1999. The 21-year-old was identified by the Boulder Police Department a few hours after officers were deployed to 3600 Table Mesa Drive at a King Soopers grocery store where an active shooter was reported.
In a statement released by the department, they narrated the timeline. “Officers arrived on the scene within minutes and immediately entered the store. There was an exchange of gunfire during which the suspect was shot,” it read.
Moments after the information was made public, the suspect's brother exclusively told The Daily Beast about his mental illness. Calling him “very anti-social” and “paranoid”, Alissa recalled how he often described “being chased” in high school and said, “someone is behind him, someone is looking for him.” More details about the suspect have stirred quite a debate around his race, his early life, family and his controversial Facebook posts.
‘He is nice, a quiet brother’
Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa grew up with his elder brother and at least one more sibling, who refused to divulge her name. Shedding light on his formative years, The Daily Beast reported, “Alissa’s family house sits on the edge of a quiet cul-de-sac lined with two-story homes and a mix of Aspens, evergreens, basketball hoops, and bird feeders. Multiple generations of the family call this house, with solar panels on the roof and a flagstaff path leading to the backyard, their home.”
When the door of his house was knocked, a woman — identified as his older sister — answered. “We’re shocked. He is nice, a quiet brother,” the 30-year-old told the outlet. Expressing his shock, his brother Ali recounted an incident when they realized his mental struggle. “When he was having lunch with my sister in a restaurant, he said, ‘People are in the parking lot, they are looking for me.’ She went out, and there was no one. We didn’t know what was going on in his head.”
Even before the Boulder shooting hit headlines, neighbors spotted several vehicles storming into the block. “It looked like the house was surrounded by Navy SEALs,” one neighbor described. Another 37-year-old investment manager told the outlet, “It’s a quiet neighborhood, full of young families, that’s why we moved here.”
‘I like wrestling...’
Ahmad's Facebook page may have been deleted but much has been unearthed from his old posts. “I like wrestling and informational documentaries that’s me,” he once posted, adding that he was enthusiastic to learn “computer engineering/ computer science.... kickboxing.” Wrestling and mixed martial arts were some of his other interests.
Photos of him in wrestling uniform from Arvada West High could be seen on his profile along with medals from a fighting association. A former wrestling teammate of the suspect named Conrad told The Daily Beast he was shocked to hear about the allegations. “One thing I can tell you is he didn’t take losing very well,” he said. “I remember that in wrestling. He would throw his headgear, wouldn’t talk to the coaches when he lost. If I remember correctly, even cussed out one of the coaches one time.”
‘Racist Islamophobic people hacking my phone’
A bigger controversy stemmed from some of his other Facebook posts. In one of those, he allegedly wrote in July 2019, “Yeah if these racist islamophobic people would stop hacking my phone and let me have a normal life I probably could.” Once, he shared an article lambasting Donald Trump over immigration. Another time, he shared his views and opposition to gay marriage and abortion.
Quite shockingly, he addressed the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand and reposted a message that read, “The Muslims at the #christchurch mosque were not the victims of a single shooter. They were the victims of the entire Islamophobia industry that vilified them.”
Soon after his name was revealed, his old Facebook posts started doing the rounds on social media. Here are some of those posts that have now been deleted.
A huge debate was stirred among social media users over his race and religion. The words ‘He's Muslim’ started trending on the micro-blogging platform.
Many Twitter users then took to the platform to slam the trend. “Last week, the shooter's religion was never brought up until media outlets mentioned "him going to church" to humanize him. This week, 'He's Muslim' is trending to indict an entire faith. Again,” one tweet read and another said, “Saying the Colorado shooter ‘isn’t white, he’s Muslim’ is the equivalent of saying ‘he’s not black, he’s Baptist’. ...Y’all do know Muslim refers to a follower of the religion of Islam, right?”
A third wrote, “One day Americans will realize that white people can be Muslim because Islam is a religion. I see people saying he’s not white he’s Muslim like just because of his name they’re assuming he’s Muslim. Man people are dumb.”
Last week, the shooter's religion was never brought up until media outlets mentioned "him going to church" to humanize him.— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) March 23, 2021
This week, "He's Muslim" is trending to indict an entire faith. Again.
Saying the Colorado shooter “isn’t white, he’s Muslim” is the equivalent of saying “he’s not black, he’s Baptist”.— Biddl3 (@Biddl3) March 23, 2021
...Y’all do know Muslim refers to a follower of the religion of Islam, right?
One day Americans will realize that white people can be Muslim because Islam is a religion. I see people saying he’s not white he’s Muslim like just because of his name they’re assuming he’s Muslim. man people are dumb— Ussy Gussy Pussy Goddess♋️ Top 5.7%OF (@Jaslynn_nichole) March 23, 2021
The victims were also identified, whose ages ranged from 20 to 65. The names were revealed to be Denny Strong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowika, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; Jody Waters, 65.
With tears in her eyes, Boulder Police Chief Maris Harold said, “I want to say to the community, I am so sorry this incident happened,” adding, “and we are going to do everything in our power to make sure this suspect has a thorough trial and we do a thorough investigation.”