Two Books Published on Shafia Family “honour” murders in Canada

The Globe and Mail – December 14, 2012

 

Without Honour: The True Story of the Shafia Family and the Kingston Canal Murders, by Rob Tripp (HarperCollins, 350 pages, $29.99); Honour on Trial: The Shafia Murders and the Culture of Honour Killings, by Paul Schliesmann (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 207 pages, $21.95). Paul Schliesmann won a National Newspaper Award for his reporting on the Shafia case.

In 2007, Afghan millionaire businessman Mohammad Shafia emigrated from Dubai to Montreal, buying his way into Canada under the federal investor program and bringing with him five daughters, two sons and two wives (one ostensibly a cousin). Two years later, he killed three of those daughters, Zainab, Sahar and Geeti, aged 19, 17 and 13 respectively. His first wife, Rona, 53, would also die.

At trial, Shafia presented himself as a pious Muslim, a loving if sometimes impatient father. In truth, according to these books, he was a thug and a hustler who had not stepped inside a mosque for years, a hair-triggered tyrant much feared by his daughters, and a man who made money easily and enjoyed spending it.

In his rants about “honour,” Shafia repeatedly invokes God. But as the trial jury heard, while many “honour killings” do occur in Muslim communities, Islam offers no justification anywhere for this very ancient type of murder, rooted in cultural practices that predate all the great religions.

Another focus in the two books is the disparate, sometimes muffled, cries for help from the victims-to-be in the weeks and months before the murders. Authorities in Montreal – teachers, social agencies, police – were alerted at least three times about problems in the dysfunctional Shafia home, yet the inquiries fizzled out. There were reasons: This unusual, well-to-do clan fit no familiar profile; there was no criminal history and a significant language barrier; and more than once, the children told of their father’s abusive behaviour, but then quickly recanted, saying it was all invented. Taken together, it was a recipe for inaction. One of the lingering images from the trial was the distressed testimony of teachers and social workers who wished the dots had been better connected.

 

‘She’s a very lovely woman’: Canadian Father testifies in defense of wife who stabbed daughter

National Post – October 4, 2012

 

Ebrahim Ebrahimi’s 19-year-old daughter, her head bloodied from severe knife wounds, had just been rushed to hospital, and his handcuffed wife was under arrest. Two years later, Mr. Ebrahimi is trying to piece that life back together, and he took the stand in defence of his wife at her trial for attempted murder. He acknowledged that Johra Kaleki attacked their daughter, Bahar Ebrahimi — it was his intervention that saved Bahar — but he praised his wife as a gentle woman who was a “best friend” to their four daughters.

Montreal police have described the attack as an honour crime, based in large part on a four-hour statement Ms. Kaleki gave the night she was arrested. In that statement, which has been played in court, Ms. Kaleki described the strict rules she and her husband, immigrants from Afghanistan, enforced in their household. Ms. Ebrahimi and her sisters were forbidden from drinking, smoking, staying out late and having boyfriends, she said.

Ms. Ebrahimi had been rebelling against her parents and their Muslim faith, and on the weekend she was attacked, she stayed out past dawn two nights in a row. Mr. Ebrahimi will continue his testimony when the case resumes on Jan. 21.

Citizen Held After 9/11 Wins Right to Be Tried

A federal judge in Idaho has ruled that the United States, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, wrongly imprisoned an American under a law designed to keep trial witnesses from fleeing and that since there was evidence that the government may have willfully misused the law against him, his case should go to trial.

Judge Edward J. Lodge, who was appointed by President George Bush, issued his rulings late on Thursday in the longstanding case of Abdullah al-Kidd, an American who was seized at an airport in 2003, imprisoned for 16 days, repeatedly strip-searched and left naked in his cell. The Justice Department had sought to have his trial request summarily dismissed and denied having misused the law in detaining him.

Mr. Kidd’s lawyer, Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union, welcomed the ruling, saying, “It will finally put the government on trial for its post-Sept. 11 practices.”

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. The department could appeal the decision or seek a settlement with Mr. Kidd.

Judge Lodge’s ruling affirms a June decision by United States Magistrate Mikel Williams that stated: “The circumstantial evidence supports the inference that al-Kidd may have been detained for reasons in addition to securing his testimony at trial.”

Magistrate Williams, who granted the Federal Bureau of Investigation the warrant to arrest Mr. Kidd while he was at Dulles Airport outside Washington on his way to Saudi Arabia in 2003, also said that the information given to him to justify the arrest was misleading. He was told that Mr. Kidd had a first-class one-way ticket and had received more than $20,000 from Mr. Hussayen. In fact, Mr. Kidd had an economy-class round-trip ticket, and the payment was salary for work he had done for Mr. Hussayen’s company.

In addition, the F.B.I. agent failed to mention that Mr. Kidd was a citizen, born and raised here, that his wife and son and many family members were in the United States and that he had never failed to cooperate with the F.B.I. Mr. Kidd was on his way to Saudi Arabia to work on his doctorate in Islamic studies, not to escape trial testimony.

NC men convicted of plotting attack on Marines base get lengthy prison sentences

RALEIGH, N.C. — Two men were sentenced Friday to long prison terms for their roles in a North Carolina-based terror ring that aspired to kill U.S. military personnel.

A federal judge in New Bern sentenced accused ringleader Daniel Patrick Boyd to 18 years. Boyd is a 42-year-old Muslim convert who lived near Raleigh and pleaded guilty in 2011 to charges of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and plotting to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons abroad.

In June, a jury found 36-year-old Anes Subasic guilty of the same charges. The Bosnian native got a 30-year sentence.

Prosecutors said the men were members of a terrorist cell that raised money, stockpiled weapons and trained for jihadist attacks against those they considered enemies of Islam. All seven men convicted as members of the plot, including two of Boyd’s sons, were either U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. An eighth indicted man is believed to be in Pakistan.

Dylan Boyd was sentenced in December to eight years in federal prison and Zakariya Boyd was sentenced to nine years.

Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, Ziyad Yaghi and Hysen Sherifi were convicted after a month-long trial held last year around the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, each receiving prison terms of between 15 and 45 years.

The men were convicted following testimony by two FBI informants that members of the group plotted to attack the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., and earlier attempted to travel to Israel with the intent of creating mayhem.

Agent: Chemicals, other bomb-making material found in Saudi man’s apartment

AMARILLO, Texas — Federal agents who searched the Texas apartment of a Saudi man accused of gathering materials to make a bomb found sulfuric acid and nitric acid, among other things, an FBI agent testified Friday.

During the first day of testimony in the trial of Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, Special Agent Aaron Covey walked jurors through the 22-year-old former chemical engineering student’s apartment in West Texas using photos taken hours after Aldawsari’s Feb. 23, 2011, arrest. Prosecutors contend Aldawsari gathered bomb components with the goal of targeting sites across the U.S.

Prosecutors presented more than 80 exhibits Friday, many of them photos that gave jurors a first look at Aldawsari’s sparsely furnished apartment near Texas Tech University.

Aldawsari came to the U.S. in October 2008 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to study chemical engineering at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He transferred in early 2011 to nearby South Plains College, where he was studying business. A Saudi industrial company, which was not identified in court documents, paid his tuition and living expenses.

In his opening statement earlier Friday, Cogdell called his client a failure who never presented a true threat.

Court documents say Aldawsari wrote in Arabic in his journal that he had been planning a terror attack in the U.S. even before he came to the country on a scholarship, and that it was “time for jihad,” or holy war. He bemoaned the plight of Muslims and said he was influenced by Osama bin Laden’s speeches.

FBI bomb experts have said they believe Aldawsari had sufficient components to produce almost 15 pounds of explosive — about the same amount used per bomb in the London subway attacks that killed scores of people in July 2005.

NYC jury finds US citizen guilty of charges he supported overseas terrorists

NEW YORK — A Brooklyn-born man was convicted Thursday of terror charges for traveling to the Middle East to avenge abuse of Muslims in a trial that featured the testimony of a would-be terrorist and childhood friend of the defendant who became a government cooperator.

The jury deliberated less than four hours before finding Betim Kaziu guilty of conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization, conspiracy to commit murder and other charges. Kaziu had denied ever being a threat. He faces a maximum of life in prison at his Nov. 4 sentencing.

Closings start at Guantanamo detainee’s NY trial

NEW YORK — The first Guantanamo detainee to face a civilian trial is a “mass murderer” who played a key role in the terrorist bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, a prosecutor said Monday in closing arguments.

Defense claims that Ahmed Ghailani was an unwitting dupe in the plot “flies in the face of the evidence and it flies in the face of common sense,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Chertoff told jurors in federal court in Manhattan. However, prosecutors allege Ghailani helped an al-Qaida cell buy a truck and components for explosives used in a suicide bombing in his native Tanzania on Aug. 7, 1998.

After the decision to put the 36-year-old detainee on trial in New York, a judge dealt the government a setback by barring testimony from a key witness identified by the CIA. Harsh interrogations techniques used by the CIA made the evidence unconstitutional, the judge ruled.

French commission on the burqa to hear Tariq Ramadan

The national parliamentary commission investigating niqab and burqa-use in France will receive testimony from Tariq Ramadan on December 2nd.

Le Figaro reports that according to André Gerin, there is increased division among the UMP on the importance of a law banning their use.

The report is expected to be made public in January 2010.

Update: woman lifts burka to testify in Spanish court

Fatima Hssini, who was expelled from a Spanish courtroom last month when she refused to lift her burka, has testified with her veil raised and her back to the public audience. Speaking to journalists as she arrived to give her testimony Monday morning, Hssini said the controversy which arose after the interview last week was due to ignorance. Wearing the burka is seen as much more normal, she said, in other European countries than it is in Spain.

Hssini testified as a witness at the trial in the National Court for nine people charged with recruiting and sending Mujahedeen to carry out suicide attacks in Iraq. Hssini, the sister of one of those who died, was originally in court last Wednesday but was expelled by Judge Javier Gomez Bermudez after refusing to lift her burka.

Toronto-area Muslim women to appeal veil-in-court decision

A Toronto-area Muslim woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by two men – and wants to give evidence in court wearing a niqab – is appealing an Ontario Superior Court ruling that initially appeared to be in her favour, but did not fully grant her the right to testify with her face covered.

The woman, who is a Canadian-born mother in her 30s, is in the centre of what has become a controversial legal question as to whether a person can cite religious devoutness as justification for testifying with her face hidden. At a preliminary inquiry for two defendants last year, Provincial Court Judge Norris Weisman decided that the woman’s veil was a reflection of “comfort” rather than belief, and ordered her to remove it.

But in late April, Mr. Justice Frank Marrocco of the Ontario Superior Court ruled otherwise. While he did not grant the woman’s request outright, Judge Marrocco ordered the preliminary inquiry to convene two hearings to determine whether the woman’s beliefs are sincere, and if they are, whether testimony from a veiled witness would be admissible as evidence. The appeal means the preliminary hearing, scheduled to resume next month, could be postponed.