Iranian-American Organizations Release Joint Statement Calling for Full Investigation into Murder of College Student Falsely Accused of Being a Terrorist

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A coalition of Iranian-American organizations, including Iranian
Alliances Across Borders, Iranian American Bar Association, the National
Iranian American Council, PARS Equality Center, and the Public Affairs
Alliance of Iranian Americans, released the following statement calling
for a full investigation into the brutal murder of 22-year-old
Iranian-American student Shayan Mazroei by avowed white supremacist,
Craig Tanber, 37, last month. Mazroei was stabbed to death after
Tanber’s girlfriend, Elizabeth Thornburg, accused him of being a

“A 22-year-old Iranian-American, Shayan Mazroei, was stabbed to death by
a member of an Orange County white supremacist gang, ‘PEN1,’ over the
Labor Day holiday weekend last month. Shayan was a student at Saddleback
College, where he was studying mechanical engineering, and had just
opened his own business. He was also his parent’s only child.

“According to eyewitness accounts, the sequence of events leading to the
fatal stabbing of Shayan began when Craig Tanber’s girlfriend, Elizabeth
Thornburg, noticed a tattoo on Shayan’s forearm, which read ‘love’ in
Farsi script. Thornburg associated Shayan’s tattoo to the Arabic script
often used in ISIS videos and imagery, and called him a ‘terrorist.
Several witnesses recall Thornburg instigating a confrontation between
Tanber and Shayan, and heard her yelling racial insults at him.
Witnesses also saw Thornburg spitting in Shayan’s face before he was
stabbed to death by Tanber. Yet, Elizabeth Thornburg remains free and
has not been charged in connection with the murder of Shayan Mazroei.

“At the time of the murder, 37-year-old Craig Tanber was out on parole
stemming from the 2004 killing of Cory Lamons in Huntington Beach.
Tanber pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, dissuading a witness by
force, street terrorism, and assault with a deadly weapon. The sentence
was enhanced after he admitted that the killing was carried out to
benefit a street gang. Tanber also has prior convictions for a 2001
residential burglary.

“Shayan’s murder was very likely motivated by islamophobia and a
fundamental misunderstanding of his tattoo. Shayan was clearly targeted
and killed because of his race, religion, and national origin. Such
senseless acts of hate have no room in the United States of America. We
call on Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin to immediately open an
investigation into Thornburg’s involvement in Shayan’s murder and bring
the appropriate criminal charges against her. In addition, we urge the
Department of Justice to further investigate this senseless killing and
highly recommend charging both Tanber and Thornburg under federal hate
crime statutes.”

For More Information Visit


PARS Equality Center
Nazy Fahimi, Esq., 650-321-6400
Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans
Morad Ghorban, 202-828-8370
Iranian American Council
Elham Khatami, 202-386-6325
Alliances Across Borders
Mana Kharrazi, 404-384-8669
American Bar Association
Leila Mansouri, 703-283-1962