United States: Case Of Drowned Saudi Sisters Seems Like Honor Killing

From the Daily Mail:
Police have released the first photographs of Saudi Arabian sisters who were found drowned and duct taped together in the Hudson River last week in a plea for information about their mysterious lives and murky deaths.

Tala Farea (right, below), 16, and Rotana Farea (left), 22, were found washed up on October 24. The sisters were living together in New York City where Rotana was studying Computer and Information Technology after recently dropping out of George Mason University in Virginia.

Their parents, Wafa’a and Abdulsalam, live in Virginia with their brothers who are 18 and 11. Abdulsalam often traveled back to Saudi Arabia for work but no information about his job has emerged.

In August, the family reported 16-year-old Tala missing after she disappeared from Virginia but the search was called off when they learned she had gone to stay with her sister in New York City.

She had recently been awarded a spot at a top private school in Saudi Arabia with a full scholarship but was desperate not to go.

It was the second time they broke off from the family.

In December last year, the pair fled to a shelter in Fairfax. The family reported them both missing.

When officers tracked them down, the sisters begged them not to tell the family where they were. What led to them returning home remains a mystery but police are focusing their investigation on the circumstances surrounding it.

Despite their repeated attempts to live independently from their parents, the family was described as ‘happy’ by Arab media outlets and were the ‘apples of their father’s eye’.

‘They were just like any one of us, they were a happy family. They were comfortable and at ease with everyone, and so the rumors that they ran away from home were beyond us. It’s impossible.

‘Their mother was naturally protective, but in no way was their household problematic for them to run away,’ they told Arab News.

They said the family was happy with Tala living with her sister who she missed dearl [sic] when she left Virginia.

‘Tala was upset for quite some time after her sister decided to continue her studies in NYC. Yes, it did cause a problem for the family as the mother had to file a missing case report to the police over her daughter’s disappearance, but the search was called off later when they found Tala was with her sister, Rotana.

‘The police told their mother that since her younger daughter was safe with an adult, it’s safe to call off the search.’

The girls only ever used Snapchat, they said, and communicated with their relatives in Saudi Arabia through it.

‘They were private and kept to themselves most of the time, but we communicated mostly via Snapchat and it wasn’t a surprise to any of us that they wouldn’t have any accounts on other social media apps,’ the unnamed family member said.

‘They were calm and always polite. All families have problems. What kind of sibling relationship would it be without fights every now and then?
TIMELINE OF SAUDI SISTERS’ LIVES AND DEATH

2015: Family moves to Fairfax, Virginia from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

December 2017: Sisters run away and beg police not to tell mom where they were. They return back to Virginia at some stage afterwards

May 2018: Oldest sister attends final classes at George Mason

August 2018: Tala is reported missing. The search is called off when police learn she is with her sister in New York City.

October 17: Mother’s last known contact with the sisters, according to relatives

October 23: Mother receives call from Saudi Consulate ordering the family home because the girls have applied for political asylum

October 24: The girls bodies are found washed up in the Hudson River

‘But that didn’t push them to the edge as the Western media is portraying,’ they added.

The NYPD has not ruled anything out.

Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said yesterday: ‘We are looking at all clues in their past life.’

The family in Virginia is yet to speak out about their disappearance despite DailyMail.com’s repeated attempts to contact their representative.

On October 23, the girls’ mother Wafa’a received a phone call from an official at the Saudi Arabian consulate who ordered the entire family to return to their home country. It was in response to an application by the two sisters for political asylum in the United States.

Police have ruled out that the pair jumped from the George Washington Bridge in a suicide pact, a theory that was initially pushed out by police, because neither body had visible signs of trauma….

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