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Police Faked Evidence in Shaima Alawadi’s Alleged “Honor Killing”

Husband ordered to trial in Iraqi American s death   Yahoo News

In this March 27, 2012 file photo, Kassim Alhimidi, left, looks on alongside his son, Mohammed Alhimidi, during a memorial for his slain wife.

by Ilisha

During a pretrial motion hearing March 25, El Cajon police detective Darren Forster made a startling admission. He testified that he doctored a photograph so it would appear that Kassim Alhimidi was nearby when his 32-year-old wife, Shaima Alawadi, was brutally murdered in their home on March 21 of 2012.

Police admitted that they drove the suspect’s red van to the scene and staged a photo, altering the date stamp. The motive for fabricating evidence, according to Forster, was to coerce a confession from Alhimidi, who has consistently maintained his innocence.

Police Chief Ed Aceves later said deception is commonly used by police and is allowed if officers “follow the rules within the constitution and case law.” He did not want to comment on the specifics of the Alawadi murder case.

“People don’t confess to things they didn’t do in most cases,” Chief Aceves said, but conceded there are exceptions if people are “worn down from hours and hours of questioning.”

Aceves said ultimately is it up to the courts to determine whether or not police have gone too far.

What’s particularly interesting about this new development is that last July, the judge in the case said street-camera footage indicating Alhimidi might have driven a short distance from his home the morning of the murder and parked his car was for him “the most persuasive evidence” in the case. Referring to Alhimidi’s claim he had gone for a drive to relax at the time of the murder, San Diego Superior Court Judge Lantz Lewis said, “It appears to be a lie,” and ordered Alhimidi to stand trial for his wife’s murder.

Justin Brooks, a law professor and head of the California Innocent Project in San Diego said that while he objects to police lying to obtain confessions, courts have upheld the practice. However, it is illegal to present falsified evidence in court. Yet it appears the doctored photograph placing Alhimid’s van near the scene was submitted to the court and influenced the judge’s decision.

It is unclear what impact this new revelation will have on the case. Don’t expect to read news of this latest revelation on anti-Muslim hate blogs, whose agenda would be best served by Alhimidi’s conviction.

First thought to be a hate crime against the family of Iraqi Muslim immigrants, the story generated an outpouring of support from around the world. However, rumors a hate crime was staged to cover up the true nature of the murder began to circulate almost immediately, and become more widespread as police began to zero in on Alawadi’s husband as the prime suspect.

Professional outrage peddlers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer immediately seized the opportunity to portray the initial outpouring of sympathy as naive, politically correct capitulation. Surmising almost from the start that the case was really an “honor killing,” anti-Muslim bigots could hardly contain their glee when Kassim Alhimidi was arrested. Treating the arrest as the equivalent of a conviction, they began gloating, thrilled they could exploit Shaima Alawadi’s brutal murder to vilify Islam and the Muslim community.

In this country, a suspect is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. In concert with David Yerushalmi, Pamela Geller has devoted herself in the past to a campaign ostensibly aimed at protecting the American legal system from “creeping sharia.” Yet she didn’t hesitate to discard much-vaunted bedrock legal principles to convict Alhimidi right from the start. She spoke emphatically of the murder as an “honor killing” perpetrated by Alawadi’s husband and “rooted in Islamic teachings and culture.”

Even if Alhimidi is ultimately convicted of Alawadi’s murder, what is the basis for assuming the crime was motivated by some notion of family honor? It seems for Geller, the honor motive can simply be assumed whenever the perpetrator is a Muslim.

Geller’s claim that honor killing is rooted in “Islamic teachings” is false. She and Robert Spencer have in the past fabricated “evidence” to falsely implicate Islamic doctrine as the culprit behind honor killings. We have repeatedly debunked their “talking points,” in articles here, here, and here

Mona Eltahawy and Raquel Saraswati* (featured in the Islamophobic Clarion Fund’s upcoming movie, “Honor Diaries“) echoed anti-Muslim bigots in this exchange regarding the murder on Twitter.

There are developments in the case that cast doubt on both the original “hate crime” narrative, and the subsequent “honor killing” counter narrative. Months earlier, Enrique Cervantes witnessed and documented an interesting series of events that may be related. In a written essay he described a young couple having sex in the backseat of a car in front of his home in broad daylight the previous November.

“I could see bodies in it, rocking around, the car shaking back and forth, and it’s not even one o’clock,” Cervantes later said of the scene in an essay for the San Diego City Beat.

The couple Cervantes described happened to be Shaima Alawadi’s 17-year-old Fatima Alhimidi and her 21-year-old boyfriend, Rawnaq Yacub. Reports suggest Yacub is of Christian Iraqi origin, and that Fatima may have been struggling with her parents to avoid an arranged marriage to another man. According to Cervantes, the couple stayed at the scene until police arrived, and the girl’s mother came to take her away.

Further details of family strife, including the possibility Shaima Alawadi may have been contemplating divorce, have emerged since the start of the investigation, fueling further speculation about possible motives for the murder. Details were made public after a police affidavit was leaked to the New York Times.

Records show a neighbor spotted a suspect fleeing the area at 10:30 a.m., about 45 minutes before the victim’s daughter, Fatima Alhimidi, called 911 emergency service to report the attack. The suspect was described as a “…dark skinned male, in late teens or early 20’s, 5 feet 7 inches in height, 150 lbs., skinny build, with dark blue or black hoodie, carrying a brown donut shaped cardboard box run west from the area of the victims house…”

The affidavit also refers to a text message allegedly intercepted by police in possession of  Fatima Alhimidi’s mobile phone during her questioning. The message read, “The detective will find out tell them [can’t] talk.” What’s interesting is that affidavit does not specify the phone number or name of the person who sent the text, referring only to a “yet unknown suspect.” 

Was the text message sent by her father, Kassim Alhimidi, who is now suspected of the murder? The wording of the affidavit is vague about the name and telephone number of the sender. However, Alhindi’s defense attorney, Richard Berkon Jr., has pointed out his client does not write or speak English.

For that matter, how could Alhimidi have written the note found at the scene of the murder, which read “Go back to your country, you terrorist.” If the crime was staged by Kassim Alhimidi to look like a hate crime, did he have an English-speaking accomplice pen the note for him in English?

Despite widespread speculation, we still do not know who murdered Shaima Alawadi. Defense Attorney Berkon also noted there is no forensic evidence linking his client to the crime. No blood or glass was found on Alhimidi’s body or clothing, or in his car. Alhimidi has cooperated throughout the investigation, and had voluntarily returned to the US after burying his wife in Iraq, expressly stating he had nothing to hide.

It doesn’t make sense, your honor,” Berkon told Lewis. “The real killer is still out there.

Opening arguments in Alhimidi’s case are scheduled to begin on April 1.

*Note: Raquel Saraswati denies any close involvement with the Clarion Fund but her participation with the group, giving them a platform, is extremely troubling and problematic. Clarion Fund and Rabbi Raphael Shore have a long history of extreme Islamophobia, having produced “Obsession,” “Third Jihad,” and the warmongering “Iranium.” –Emperor

Related:

Honor Killing and Even More Proof You REALLY Shouldn’t Trust Robert Spencer’s “Scholarship”

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  • jules2u

    You might want to read that passage correctly, it does not state that her head is to be shaved, but rather that it would be as disgraceful as if she had cut or shaved her hair. Major difference. But then again, under the new convenient those beliefs were no longer a part of Christianity.

  • Amie

    Unfortunately, some Muslims do commit those crimes and give fuel to the fire.

  • EugeneSavoy

    The photo was used for the police interview to get the suspect to admit that he was in the area. The tactic worked because Alhimidi changed his statement to admit that he was in the area after denying that he was…

    The jury deliberated less than two days before delivering a verdict that
    split the family. Alawadi’s mother, Rehima Alhussanwi, said she was
    convinced Alhimidi was the killer.

    “In Iraq, normally if he kills her he is supposed to be killed in the
    same way,” she told reporters through David, the translator.

    The eldest daughter, Fatima, declined to speak with reporters but her
    attorney, Ron Rockwell, said she felt “outraged and utterly betrayed”
    that the defense suggested during the trial that she may have been
    involved in the killing.

    “Although we love our father,” Fatima said in a statement read by her attorney, “we also hate what we believe he did.” http://tinyurl.com/pksqphl

    The UN Population Fund conservatively estimates that honor killings, both worldwide and in the West, are mainly Muslim-on-Muslim crimes. In this study, worldwide,
    91 percent of perpetrators were Muslims. In North America, most killers
    (84 percent) were Muslims, with only a few Sikhs and even fewer Hindus
    perpetrating honor killings; in Europe, Muslims comprised an even larger
    majority at 96 percent while Sikhs were a tiny percentage. In Muslim countries, obviously almost all the perpetrators were Muslims. http://tinyurl.com/lg3yggp

  • April

    Cowards these “honor” killers be. They proclaim their duty to their beliefs, then lie to cover themselves. There’s no “honor” in that, my friends.

  • Laila Muhammad

    if the quran says ‘100 lashes for both adulturers if 4 witnesses produced….and that afterwards adulturers can only marry other adulturers then these people are indeed still alive and well after their punishment…..just because Saudi iran sudan Pakistan passed laws giving stoning as a punishment which is the torah punishment doesn’t make them correct….same for death to apstacy quran clear ‘no compulsion in religion’….islam is the best religion but with some of the worst followers…thanx

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    The way you frame this is odd. First, I don’t think there is a liberal united front on these issues. Take some Atheists, especially of the “New Atheists” variety, they don’t just expect condemnation of violence, they expect condemnation and ridicule of sacred figures and texts.

    I also think you are making some assumptions here. Who are Liberals to talk about Freedom of Expression? Some are quite happy to stifle it when it doesn’t suit their ends. I’ll point out that there are many periods where critical views of Islam and sacred figures were prevalent in Muslim principalities. There is the famous instance of debate, back and forth between Ibn Hazm and Jewish interlocutors in the form of books of criticism and refutation of each others respective religions.

  • Mehdi

    Totally agreed, the problem is that people in front of him weren’t interested in debating this.

  • Razainc_aka_BigBoss

    From Tariq Ramadan comments on the matter I think he wanted to start a discussion on reform from a inside prospective rather than coming at it from outside. But he wanted a more broad based discussion on things like rights, race , power, poverty, etc…
    so he did not want to focus on solely one issue hence why he called for a moritorium so a more broad based discusion on Islamic ethics can take place. Also he wanted to seriously ask Muslims if it is even compliment with Islamic principles to implement it considering they way it would used. But he has stated that he is against.

  • Jekyll

    Probably more than just a connection…Elthway is in the wings…

  • Just_Stopping_By

    In reverse order of you comments:

    You are correct that there are indeed typically limits on what one can say, such as rules against libel and slander. I think we can debate whether there are innate rights that may be taken away by authorities or whether there no rights until authorities grant them. I’m much more in favor of the former view, but if we ultimately wind up in the same place, that distinction may not be that important.

    On your first paragraph, I agree without any reservations whatsoever. I just wonder how many of the people who make the “Jesus and Mo” type of comments, as you describe them, do so out of deliberate spite and how many are so clueless not to see the problem with that. I think that Maajid Nawaz falls into the second group. Another way to say that is that (in my view) he is so out of touch with typical Muslims that he can’t even see why what he tweeted would be considered offensive by many of them. Maybe if someone explains it to him really slowly, he’d catch on and not try to dig himself further into a hole by attempting to defend or minimize the meaning of his actions.

  • Rights

    Excellent points. The “Jesus and Mo” type of comments are an immediate turn off for me. And as you know there is much worse stuff that some people say about Muhammad. Such stuff tortures the Muslim mind, and the haters of Muslims and Islam know that very well, which is likely one reason they do it.

    As for people having the right to say those things, that is obviously in the context of rules and regulations that humans have made in certain parts of the World, the West in general. But in allowing the right to say things, the West is not definitive either. Even in legislation there is no such thing as the absolute right to say anything that one wants to, otherwise how could we have the libel lawsuits.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    Exactly, its about the intentions, the back ground of the individual, their track record.

  • Tanveer Khan

    I’m a panda.

  • Mehdi

    A side note on racism and bigotry, history shows that forms of racism are in constant evolution. For instance antisemitism in the middle ages (which often put Jews and Muslims in the same basket) had nothing to do with European in the 19th century or the racial version that led to the Holocaust and so on.
    Similarly, Islamophobia is very different now from the Orientalism that went along with colonialism, and the types of racism depend a lot on the countries where they occur. So it makes it difficult to find the right type of response, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s an important to keep fighting, but I doubt racism in general will ever go away.

  • Jekyll

    Who is a bigot ? And in what aspect is ones bigotry another’s tradition ? And ideally would not lessening of oeole being Muslims themselves reduce islamphobia sigh sigh all around

  • Just_Stopping_By

    “First, I’m not a scholar and never claimed to be. Yes, but often your comments are erudite enough to make people think you are a scholar of Islam!

    “But we’re not endorsing a particular interpretation,… As with the “litmus test” string, that’s probably not quite what you mean. For example, presidents often say that there is no litmus test for appointing judges, and they usually are claiming (whether true or not) that they are not looking at positions on abortion. But, if a candidate had a public record of repeatedly saying that it would be unconstitutional to ban violent, forcible rape and they would overturn any conviction based on a law against such rape, you can be pretty sure that no president would ever nominate that person to be a judge. Similarly, I am confident that if someone said that Islam endorses violent, forcible rape, you and others would strongly argue that such a position is against any reasonable interpretation of Islam.

    Maybe you’ll disagree with me, but I think we all have litmus tests when the position is abundantly clear (for example, no violent, forcible rape), and then get more nuanced as issues are less clear (how many times must someone ask another person out before it becomes harassment, and does it matter if the response was “no, not ever” or just “no” or “I’m not interested right now” or a non-response?)

    So, would it be fair to say that there are some doctrines that you feel are clearly unIslamic under any reasonable interpretation (for example, Muslims worship the moon or a moon god) and others that may depend on the sources (for example, Qur’an, different sets of ahadith, sunna) one relies on?

  • Jekyll

    So the goal is to eradicate islamphobia

  • Rights

    Ilisha, this is not to respond to you, it is just that I didn’t know where to position my comment.

    To all talking about the litmus tests: What litmus tests? And to determine what? In chemistry the term has very precise meaning. Are we talking about a definitive test to determine whether someone is a Muslim? Christian? Jew? Patriot? Islamophobe? The discussions have been a bit too abstract.

    Ilisha, I say a million dittos to your last sentence.

  • Mehdi

    The problem with litmus tests or such tests in general are the intention of the person who puts you at test and also the premise of the question. If the intent is to get you to fail, you are trapped from the beginning.

    The example of Ramadan with stoning happened to him vs Sarkozy and he was trapped, he was asked the question in prime time with the intent of using any ambiguous word (or seen as such) to then portray him as a barbarian. He should not have gone to that program which was not a debate but an electoral meeting for Sarkozy.

    As you said, one of the main problems for Muslims nowadays is we are assumed as guilty until proven otherwise, and it’s difficult to handle differently the cases where the person is simply poorly informed and where it makes sense to help inform (after all many Non-Muslims are just misinformed and are open to learning and understanding), whereas in many cases we face people who are not interested in finding anything out… There is no much that can be done with the latter except standing up peacefully and answering their hatred, calmly, sometimes with derision, and sometimes ignoring them.

  • Nur Alia binti Ahmad

    I absolutely agree with you. I do not feel personally obligated to answer for any violent act committed in the name of Islam, and I refuse to own it.
    What the anti Islamic apologists want is to be able to claim that Islam is the cause of criminality, and not the criminal looking for an excuse to justify his own acts.
    What anti Islam apologists want by wanting all Muslims to apologize for a criminal act in the name of Islam is a way to claim that Islam is the cause of violence by using those Muslims who didn’t participate directly in the act know Islam is violent, and are admitting that by apologizing.

  • Jekyll

    (sigh) as you say…can’ but help see how this would never really help Muslims in the long term anyway the purpose of this website is as you said…made abundantly obvious from time to time.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    “Even if we accept litmus tests, and I have some serious reservations, do you think it’s fair to single out one group more than others?”

    Of course not. What I say about litmus tests or quasi-litmus tests should apply equally, or be rejected equally if you disagree with me, for any and all groups.

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