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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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  • LiesYouTell

    Linda Sarsour on HuffPost Live discussing “Honor Diaries”

    Skip to 3:00
    http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/women-make-news/5332fdbafe3444478c00009f

  • Mehdi

    What??? Not a self portrait?? 🙂

  • Just_Stopping_By

    I think you make a few good points here, but maybe I can unpack them a bit.

    “but cases where Muslim religious/sacred figures, texts, Shariah, etc. are ridiculed and condemned. This makes matters worse, …”

    I think this is absolutely right. With regard to ridiculing religious/sacred figures, texts, Shariah, etc., I can’t see how that could ever be helpful. That is one reason that I thought that, even giving him the largest benefit of the doubt that I could, Maajid Nawaz’s tweeting of the “Jesus and Mo” cartoon was at best an indication that he was out of touch with the Muslim community. Referring to Muhammad as “Mo” sets off alarm bells for me, and “Mo” is not even an inherently insulting or offensive name. It’s just always, or perhaps almost always, disrespectful to use a diminutive in that way for a prophet. Of course, people have the right to do that; but others have the right to say that those who do are somewhere in the range from clueless to bigot.

    “Litmus tests are placed at the feet of Muslims to differentiate between ‘good vs. bad Muslims,’ I don’t find this acceptable or helpful.”

    In some ways, I agree, and in some, I don’t. But, either way, I think that, unfortunately, it is inevitable. Let’s take someone who favors a ban on the hijab. My first instinct is to think that their views on Islam and/or freedom of religion are very far from mine. Now, it may turn out that we agree on every other issue and thus actually tend to have very similar views with just one large exception. And, yes, I should be open and listen to them on every issue before deciding. But, my views would certainly be colored by what I know on the first topic I learn about, perhaps causing me to make more or less favorable interpretations when what they say on another topic is unclear or could be read in more than one way.

    That’s not a pure litmus test, but I think it is just a natural human reaction. In some ways, that is bad, because it may cause us to not fully appreciate nuances in people’s view. In other ways, it is good, because it is what tells me that I would rather spend time thinking about a complicated point you make on religious freedom than thinking about a complicated point on the same topic by Pamela Geller. In a world where I don’t have infinite time, such quasi-litmus tests are at least useful in deciding where to focus my resources.

  • LiesYouTell

    Sheldon “Palestinians don’t exist” Adelson and his connection to Clarion Fund.

    Sheldon Adelson did not weigh in on the nomination of a judge for a Passaic County judgeship. But he has been credibly linked to an outfit that has for some years now been busy fanning the flames of Western paranoia about Muslim encroachment, the Clarion Fund, the distributor for an incendiary 2005 film called “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” Haaretz reported in 2007 that Adelson had personally distributed copies of the documentary to participants in the Taglit-Birthright Israel project, which allows young American Jews to visit Israel and to which Adelson has pledged $60 million. The New York Times reported, in a 2012 article about another anti-Muslim film distributed by Clarion Group, “The Third Jihad,” that the first film had “attracted support” from Adelson, but did not elaborate on whether that support went beyond his distribution of the film to Birthright participants to include actual financial backing. (“Obsession” had considerable financial heft behind it, given that it was distributed to millions of Americans before the 2008 election as an insert in swing-state newspapers.)
    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117207/christies-apology-adelson-occupied-territories-shift

  • Tanveer Khan

    Sorry, completely off topic, but your avatar lady person has very long fingers…

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    First, I want to point out that I haven’t called Saraswati “anti-Muslim” she does however have a record of echoing anti-Muslim bigots.

    Saraswati works for Jasser’s AIFD, they are not funded by the Muslim community, they are funded by Right-Wing, Neo-Con, Zionist organizations. What does that tell you? They are an astroturf group that was set up to disenfranchise Muslims, beleaguer Muslim advocacy groups and to push a Neo-Con agenda.

    Where are they when it comes to surveillance on Muslims? On the erosion of the civil liberties of Muslims? Where are they on the Iraq War? Where are they when it comes to the occupation of Palestine? Where are they when it comes to fighting and exposing Islamophobia?

    In the US Muslims and other concerned individuals have been calling Saraswati out for her long involvement with the Clarion Fund/Project, AIFD, etc.

    This movie is produced by Ayaan H. Ali and Rabbi Raphael Shore, that tells me a lot. Islamophobes are not interested in real change, only in demonizing Islam and Muslims. Islamophobes will not change injustices in the Muslim world and they will not be given a platform.

    Muslims will be in the lead in these changes and if you want to be an ally you should find those who are really doing the work, not people who ally with Islamophobes for purposes of self-aggrandizement and notoriety.

  • JD

    Yes Facts in a case are “cover-up or obscure and outright lie” you are so right.

  • JD

    Muslims take part of America and ” The system” government , school board, City council They are part of ” the muslim brotherhood ( who according to right wingers have a crazy recruitment plan since all muslim are part of it ) trying to take over America in a conspiracy to get Sharia Law . Muslims dont take part in anything to avoid all that they are not assimilating to america.

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t
    This is probably what the UK muslim community goes thru and they keep to them self

  • Tanveer Khan

    Instead of taking issue with the actual stoning why not take issue with how people used “evidence” based on hearsay to stone alleged adulterers and fornicators (these two are the only I cant think of where stoning is a punishment)? Surely that’s more useful? If followed properly, then the requirements for proving adultery and fornication is near impossible as many people on here have pointed out previously.

    I’m unable to watch the video at the moment so sorry if the video has already said this. 😛

  • SarahAB

    But this is what you seem to be doing too – applying a litmus test to Muslims. And I think I can understand what you mean with reference to Tarek Fateh, and perhaps Zuhdi Jasser. But not Raquel Saraswati. If it is asserted that her involvement in this project was ill-judged, that’s one thing, and I haven’t seen the film so can’t comment. But I think suggesting she is anti-Muslim is bizarre. In so far as I apply a litmus test it’s to reject people who think those who change their mind about their religion should, ideally, be killed, not people like Saraswati who stand up against anti-Muslim bigotry as well as campaign against violence against women.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    Sarah, actually what I am referring to is not criticism of Islamic interpretations (such nuances are often lost in liberal NGO campaigns) but cases where Muslim religious figures, texts, Shariah, etc. are ridiculed and condemned. This makes matters worse, as we have been told by Muslims actually working on the ground to remedy potential or ongoing injustices. It’s time to listen to their voices. There is a propensity to ignore people actually doing the real work in favor of propping up individuals who have no influence with the Muslim community (like Saraswati) for ideological reasons and it has led to tragic consequences. Litmus tests are placed at the feet of Muslims to differentiate between “good vs. bad Muslims,” I don’t find this acceptable or helpful.

  • SarahAB

    I wouldn’t start interrogating Muslims about the actions of their Prophets or particular verses of the Qur’an for no good reason. And I wouldn’t condemn Islam or Sharia – on the understanding that both are interpreted in different ways by different Muslims. But, whereas you say Western liberals make things worse by being critical of some of the ways Islam is interpreted, I think of those Western liberals who remain silent when more liberal Muslims would be very glad of their support.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    Muslims shouldn’t have to condemn their holy texts or their Prophets. Western Liberals/progressives who often time voice concern on certain human rights violations in Muslim majority nations end up going extremely overboard, condemning Islam and Shariah thereby making a situation that had an Islamic/Shariah remedy complicated with issues of identity. There have been multiple cases where the involvement of “Western” liberals/progressives have made matters worse. I plan to do an article on it.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    The group Saraswati works for is funded by Neo-Cons and the Right-Wing. CAP which is a progressive group exposed these people in Fear, inc. That’s not to say faux liberals and so-called 9/11 liberals aren’t also part of the Islamophobia network, they are.

  • Tanveer Khan

    There’s a blackberry forum called crackberry 😛

    Libertarianism sounds interesting.

  • Jekyll

    Again with the Oriental fetish of applying labels to others to make you more comfortable discerning others and this beliefs. What if “others” did that ?
    She is a moderate homosexual or he is an extremist Jew as compared to a nice Jew who has dialogue with us or they are radical women they want to destroy religion as compared to those who want to be nice to us etc etc

  • Tanveer Khan

    I don’t have a problem against their products, they’re good products, just ridiculously overpriced as you very well know. I just can’t understand why you’d pay so much for an iPhone when you can get something just as good for half the price. My BlackBerry has been serving me faithfully for the two months I’ve had it (yup, even emperors serve me)

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  • SarahAB

    I (hope I) never use the phrase ‘moderate Muslim’. I don’t see why I shouldn’t call someone a liberal or progressive Muslim though. I also don’t generally use the word ‘Islamist’, even though ‘Muslims with extreme, theocratic or illiberal views’ takes up an awful lot of a tweet. I do feel that *some* terms should be left to me for differentiating between pious and observant but secular Muslims and those who, for example, support the death penalty for apostasy.

  • Tanveer Khan

    iphone and android are peasants when compared to the emperor BlackBerry 10. 😉

  • Jekyll

    By God I was referring to Sarswati and the comment was directed at SarahAB NOT you.
    Stupid iPhone texting lol
    (I did not read your last comment lol)

  • Laila Muhammad

    the quran is the ultimate authority….never mentions stoning iran saudi govts trying to outdo each other ….if quran says 100 lashes for both adulturers if 4 witnesses are provided then thats the punishment….quran further states that adulterers should marry adulterresses only..hence they are not required to be stoned to death…some govts ignore this because in the first 1000 yrs of islam only one couple were ever punished…the loiklihood of finding 4 witnesses to the act is slim to none

  • Jekyll

    Nope she’s just cooning for the “white sugar daddy” which in this case is the secular left.
    And you seem to more than happy to indulge in your oreirntal fetish of labelling Muslims by a pen stroke as moderate, liberal or extremist or orther.

  • Peeper

    He has evidence (opinion), just not what you call facts.

  • 1DrM

    Another day another EDL racist troll spinning the news to suit his own failed worldview obsessing over his betters, i.e. Muslims, all the while trying to cover up the daily terrorist acts of his western supremacist brethren around the globe.
    Eunuch Powell was right? LOL Yeah, to unemployed and violent EDL bum boys.

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