"I really don't want to speculate because of the prominence of the situation," said Cheltenham Detective Lt. Robert Krauser. "There's the possibility that it was a routine burglary. There's also the possibility that it was some kind of international or foreign activity."
FBI agents also joined the investigation after local authorities asked them for "technical and investigative assistance," said a spokesman, who declined to elaborate.
Killed in their three-story house in a wealthy section of Wyncote were Isma'il Raji al-Faruqi, 65, a Palestinian-born senior professor of Islamic studies at Temple, and his wife, Lois, 60, an American-born pianist who had lectured at Temple on Islamic art.
Their daughter, Anmar el-Zein, who is eight months pregnant and had been visiting from Cleveland with her 18-month-old daughter, was stabbed several times in the chest and arms. She was listed in serious but stable condition at Rolling Hill Hospital. Doctors said they did not know if her unborn child would survive.
The toddler and the slain couple's youngest daughter, Tyma, 21, who lived with her parents, escaped injury by hiding in a bedroom closet. The Faruqis had three other children. Police said they weren't sure of the exact whereabouts of two of them at the time of the attack. The third, a 22-year-old son who had been a student in Texas, died of food poisoning in Mexico two months ago.
Isma'il Faruqi, an internationally prominent writer and scholar who occasionally advised Islamic nations on religious policies, was known to the Muslim students he taught and advised at Temple as "father." He was the last governor of Galilee before the creation of Israel in what was then his homeland of Palestine.
Though associates said he was not active in Middle East politics, he was a staunch proponent of Palestinian rights and wrote in an essay that was quoted last year in the New York Times, "The injustice perpetrated by Zionism is so complex, so compounded and so grave that there is practically no means of stopping or undoing it without a violent war in which the Zionist army, state and all its public institutions would have to be destroyed."
Faruqi spoke often in the 1970s and early 1980s of threats against his life, said a friend, Hafez Malik, a Villanova University political science professor. But Malik said Faruqi had not mentioned any recent threats.
Faruqi's daughter Zein called police at 2:34 a.m. yesterday after she had been chased through the house by a masked man who slashed her deeply on the arms and chest. She asked for help, saying, "there was an intruder in the house," according to police.
When officers arrived at the large, secluded house on Bent Road near Church Road minutes later and found her collapsed in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor, she described the assailant as a dark-skinned or black man, about 5- foot-10, who was wearing dark-colored clothing and a dark mask. Detectives were unable to interview her further because of her injuries.
Tyma Faruqi, who grabbed her young niece and hid in an upstairs closet when she heard the commotion, told police she didn't see the intruder. But a man who talked with her yesterday afternoon at the home of a neighbor said she was fairly certain only one person entered the sprawling Faruqi house.
"She's in shock," said the man, who would not give his name. "She didn't really see anything. She just heard screaming and hid."
The killer broke a kitchen window on the first floor of the house, which apparently attracted the attention of Lois Faruqi, who was working upstairs, police said. When she came downstairs, the killer was either already inside or forced his way into a door to a shed adjoining the kitchen when Lois Faruqi checked the lock, police theorized. She was found face-up on the floor of the shed, stabbed several times in the leg, neck and head.
The rest of the family had been asleep, police said, but Lois Faruqi's screams awoke Zein, who ran downstairs to investigate. She glimpsed the killer before turning and running back upstairs.
By the time they reached the top of the stairs, police said, Isma'il Faruqi had awakened and had walked out of his bedroom into an adjoining study, where the killer stabbed him to death. Meanwhile, Zein had escaped into another bedroom, where she hid.
Isma'il Faruqi was found face-down on the floor of the study, stabbed several times. A 15-inch "survival-type knife" was found next to his body, police said.
Besides the knife, police said they found several important pieces of evidence yesterday. The killer apparently left a bloody shoeprint on the back steps of the house. Police chiseled out the stone slab.
And yesterday afternoon, a woman who lives two doors away discovered that the lid of her trash can, which had been set on the curb the night before, was smeared with what appeared to be blood. Inside, on top of household garbage, police found the leather sheath to the knife that was next to Faruqi's body. Beside the can, detectives found a small piece of cellophane coated with blood.
Police said bloody fingerprints were visible on the trash can lid and cellophane. A hair also was stuck to the dried blood on the cellophane, police said.
The abundance of forensic evidence indicates the slayings probably were not the work of a professional assassin, said one county detective. Other detectives, however, said a random burglary appears equally unlikely.
Investigators were unable to determine whether anything was taken from the house, which contained numerous valuable religious artifacts and Oriental rugs. But police said the house had not been ransacked. A frightened burglar who had stabbed someone who surprised him, said police, would be unlikely to search the home for others to knife.
Dr. Theodore A. Garcia, Montgomery County coroner, said autopsies yesterday confirmed the couple died of multiple stab wounds. Garcia refused to disclose the number of stab wounds or their location on the bodies, saying the district attorney's office considered that information "inflammatory."
Police said it appeared the killer ran out the back door and across the lawn of the house next door to the gently curving, tree-lined street. Police said they had been unable to determine whether the killer left the area on foot or in a car.
The slayings stunned neighbors in the quiet suburb, where the Faruqis had lived for about 18 years, as well as members of Philadelphia's Islamic community, in which the family was well known.
"I think it might have been a planned attack rather than just a random thing," said one neighbor. "I guess I think like that because it makes me feel safer."
The Faruqis, described as dynamic, gentle people, often had entertained students and other professors, neighbors said. Visiting foreign dignitaries wearing turbans and flowing robes were common sights at the home.
Some of Faruqi's students and colleagues tried to visit surviving members of the family yesterday, but most of them were turned away by the police.
"He's our leader," said Wahid Ali, a Temple student and secretary of the Muslim Students Association of the United States, which Faruqi served as adviser. "We look up at him as like a father. This is a big blow."
Many of those who knew the family said they were confused by the stabbings. Some scoffed at the notion that the slayings were motivated by Faruqi's beliefs. Others, however, said they would not doubt that he had been targeted by a political assasin.
"Someone, or some people, no doubt had something against him," said Imam Shamsud-din Ali, a prominent figure in the Philadelphia Islamic community. ''Who they are and what they had against him, we don't know . . . If God permits, hopefully, they will find some clear evidence about what happened."
Norbert Samuelson, a Judaism professor at Temple, said Faruqi's views "are uniquely his own and would make everyone unhappy. So there's no end of possible political opponents."