“The Cat” that killed a human [Archives:2006/938/Reportage]

April 17 2006

Mohammed Al-Jabri
[email protected]

Below is a true story of how insulting words led a man called “The Cat” to commit murder. The incident occurred last month in Taiz governorate's Al-Musalla neighborhood. The story is narrated according to official case documents, of which the Yemen Times obtained a copy.

“Jalal: the evil, talkative cat,” was the phrase that irritated Jalal Thabet Mahmoud Al-Shawafi and the story that ended the life of a young man named Mohammed Al-Masani. At one place and one time, the story began with uttering such a phrase, writing it on a wall, and ended with killing an innocent young man.

Al-Masani, 20, was a secondary school student in his final year and his family members were looking forward to celebrating his graduation. But no one knew that March 28 would be the final day of both his study and his life.

That day, he returned from school as usual and had lunch with his family. His father, Abdulwareth Al-Masani, 40, decided to take a little nap that afternoon. Outside the house, something different was happening.

Al-Shawafi, 30, and his boss were chewing qat in the computer center when Mohammed Al-Shaibani came to them at 1:30 p.m. “Boys are writing your name on the wall of the Qur'an School. They are writing 'Jalal: the evil, talkative cat,'” Al-Shaibani informed Al-Shawafi. He did not wait but arose from his comfortable seat, leaving behind his boss and the comfortable qat session. He and Al-Shaibani headed for the neighborhood's Qur'an School to see who was involved in writing the insulting phrase.

Armed with his Russian pistol, Al-Shawafi arrived and, like a knight that never before had been defeated, stood before the wall reading the phrase written in bold black paint, “Jalal: the evil, talkative cat.” “Who wrote this?” he asked three boys sitting nearby.

“The one who wrote it was Mohanned Al-Masani and the one who instructed him was Omer Faisel,” replied a boy named Haithem. Still facing the wall with an angry expression dominating his face, Al-Shawafi took out his pistol and fired a shot at the wall, seemingly to defend his insulted feelings.

In order to verify the whole story, Al-Shawafi turned toward Al-Masani's house, which was near the school. In no time, he knocked at the door and Al-Masani's three sons – Mohammed, Majd and Mohanned – came out to see who was there. “Who instructed you to write my name on the wall?' Al-Shawafi asked, pointing at Mohanned.

“It was Omer Faisel,” Mohanned answered. “Well, let's go to the neighborhood chief to complain against this Faisel,” Al-Shawafi remarked. They all headed for the chief, while Mohammed's mother remained at the door of the house.

As they began walking, a boy named Mohammed Nageeb was standing in a nearby alley. From there, he shouted at Al-Shawafi, “Hey you, Jalal the Cat, what are you doing here?” This time, Al-Shawafi became more irritated, so he again took out his pistol and fired a shot in a direction he “did not recognize.” Alas, he shot Mohammed who was beside him. He shot at his heart and the bullet penetrated through his back. Mohammed fell to the ground, uttering his final words, “Rescue me.”

Al-Shawafi claimed that he killed Mohammed unknowingly. “I was so angry and fired a shot into a direction I did not know. Mohammed was beside me at that moment. I saw him fall to the ground. To my surprise, I heard him say, 'Rescue me.' I turned to him and said, 'What's wrong with you?' I then noticed blood on his back and he uttered no more words,” he recounted.

It was 2 p.m. when the tragic incident occurred. The whole place was rendered silent as Mohammed lay utterly still. In his panic, Al-Shawafi ran away. Mohammed's mother witnessed the incident and saw her lovely son fall to the ground, a scene she never witnessed before. Unable to believe her eyes, she burst into tears, loudly cried and immediately rushed to her sleeping husband.

With tears pouring from her eyes, she told him, “Jalal the Cat has killed our son!” The panicked father jumped out of bed and went out, only to see some people carrying his dead son toward the hospital. Those who witnessed the incident informed him, “Jalal Al-Shawafi killed your son.”

Finding no way to pursue the killer, Al-Masani went to the hospital to have a final look at his son. Meanwhile, Al-Shawafi surrendered himself to Taiz governorate's deputy, remaining there until police came and took him.

During investigations, Al-Shawafi maintained that he killed Mohammed but not intentionally, while Al-Masani insisted that it was on purpose. But the two agreed that “there were no differences between Mohammed and the killer.” Also during investigations, Nageeb, Al-Shaibani, Baheej Aref and Wael Al-Hajj all testified that Al-Shawafi killed Mohammed. Al-Shawafi is now at General Prosecution.

Born in Taiz, Al-Shawafi received his basic education but did not continue. He is divorced, lives in Al-Musalla neighborhood and works in a computer store.

That is the story of Mohammed who, like many others, fell victim to the phenomenon of arms bearing, which is common among people throughout Yemen, including main cities.