He stared at the magnolia tree in the front yard and said nothing. I told him what I knew—that his son, John, was Yahya. Tim sat, lips pursed, and with a shake of his head began to speak. “Every step of his life he’s made the wrong decisions, from high school onward,” Tim told me. “It is beyond me to understand why he threw what he had away.” Yahya’s two sisters have both earned advanced degrees, he added, as if to demonstrate that it wasn’t failed parenting that led his only son to drop out of school, wage holy war, and plot mass murder.
“He was always the youngest kid in the class, and always a follower,” Tim said.
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