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Christian Mother Who Fled Islamic Extremism in Iran Killed in San Bernardino Terrorist Attack

( [email protected] ) Dec 04, 2015 11:58 AM EST
One of the 14 people killed by suspected terrorists in San Bernardino, California was a devout Christian woman who fled Iran at just 18 years old to escape Islamic extremism and the persecution of Christians that followed the Iranian Revolution.
Benneta Betbadal pictured with her family. Betbadal, 46, was among those killed in the San Bernardino massacre. GoFundMe

One of the 14 people killed by suspected terrorists in San Bernardino, California was a devout Christian woman who fled Iran at just 18 years old to escape Islamic extremism and the persecution of Christians that followed the Iranian Revolution. 

Benneta Betbadal, 46, was among those killed on Wednesday at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino by Syed Farook and his wife, both of whom reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS prior to the massacre.

"It is the ultimate irony that her life would be stolen from her that day by what appears to be the same type of extremism that she fled so many years ago," reads a Go Fund Me page started to help Benneta's grieving husband and children; a daughter, 15, and two sons, 12 and 10.

After fleeing Iran, Benneta first lived in New York City before relocating to California, where she married her husband, Arlen Verdehyou, in 1997. She obtained a degree in chemistry from Cal Poly Pomona and also had a bachelor of science degree in biotechnology, later joining the San Bernardino County Health Department in 2006 as an inspector.

"Benneta was proud to work for the people of San Bernardino County. She loved her job, her community, and her country. Her greatest love, however, was for her husband, her children, and her large extended family," the page continues.

Benneta was also devoted to her Christian faith: In 2009, she posted a Facebook note to Ashur Bet Sargis, an Assyrian pop singer: "My dearest Ashur, I thank God for creating you, for creating such a wonderful loving human, and for giving you such a great talent. May our Lord Jesus be with you all the days of your life."

Benneta's husband told the San Bernardino Sun that his wife loved Christmas because it celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ. In fact, he had last had contact with his wife the morning she was killed when exchanged texts discussing his Christmas shopping plans.

"She decorated a beautiful Christmas tree," he said, referring to her as an "angel" from "day one that I met her and until the last day."

"She came here to have a better life, a better education and everything else, and, unfortunately, it was taken away from her," he said.

Breitbart notes that Betbadal's murder is a prime example of the genocide of Christians extending beyond the Middle East.

"With Ms. Benneta Betbadal's death during the California terrorist attacks I am not sure how [House Foreign Affairs Committee] can avoid calling the death of [C]hristians down range a non-genocide issue," one activist said via email.

On Facebook, the nonprofit Assyrian American Association of Southern California posted their condolences: "It is with heavy hearts and tremendous sadness that the Assyrian American Association of Southern California offers its deepest condolences to the family of Bennetta Betbadal."

The rest of the victims in Wednesday's California shooting rampage ranged in age from 26 to 60 and 12 of them were county employees, officials said.

Sheriff John McMahon said: "This shooting has caused each victims family, friends and co-workers, along with the first responders, to suffer an enormous personal tragedy.

"We must stand strong and offer support to each individual affected by this senseless attack.

Tags : Benneta Betbadal, San Bernardino, Islamic extremism, Iran, Christian, Muslim, terrorism