Messianic Jew may have been martyred for his beliefs in San Bernardino, wife's friend tells media

by Joni B. Hannigan, Editorial Staff |
Nicholas Thalasinos/FACEBOOK

SAN BERNARDINO (Christian Examiner) — An outspoken Messianic Jew who debated with the shooter about the violent nature of Islam just weeks before he was fatally gunned down in the San Bernardino massacre may have been targeted for his beliefs, his wife told a friend following the carnage.

Nicholas Thalasinos, 52, was a co-worker of Syed Rozwan Farook, 28, the man police have identified as one of the shooters in the rampage at a Christmas party of county workers, along with Farook's, wife, Tashfeen Malik, 27, a Pakistani national in the United States on a "fiancé" visa.

Both Farook and Malik, who apparently left a six-month old baby behind with relatives, were killed in a shootout with police after opening fire and killing 14 and wounding 21 others at the Inland Regional Center at about 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Kuuleme Stephens told news media she was part of a telephone discussion with Thalasinos, a health inspector, and Farook when she heard the Messianic Jewish man describe Farook as one who "doesn't agree that Islam is not a peaceful religion."

Farook, whom investigators now say may have been part of either a domestic or international terrorist attack -- or a perpetrator of workplace violence -- indicated that Americans don't understand Islam, according to Stephens who said she was not certain of Farook's motivation.

Stephens said Jennifer Thalasinos "believes her husband was martyred for his faith and beliefs," however, and told her to tell this to the media.

Earlier, Thalasinos told the LA Times she was believed Farook and her husband got along.

"That's what's so shocking," she said.

The victim's wife also told the Times her husband, whom she had met online 14 years previously, wore traditional fringe tassels along with a Star of David tie clip.

"He became born again a couple of years ago and because of that I had a very strong faith," she said, "and so I know that he's in a much better place."

The slain man, who had two grown sons, was also evangelistic, his wife said.

"He wanted to serve the Lord and bring more people to the Lord," Thalasinos said.

Messianic Jews identify with the Christian faith in that its adherents believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

The LA Times reported that following his final Facebook, just hours before he was killed, someone left a message that threatened Israel.