Exclusive: How Do You Plead, Guilty or Not Guilty? ‘I Plead Muslim!’
by GADI ADELMAN
March 8, 2010
"She was strong, beautiful, really caring, she was always willing to help people." This was the description of Noor Almaleki (pictured above) according to one of her co-workers from the Applebee’s in Glendale, Arizona.
Her caring came to end on October 20, 2009 when her own father, Faleh Hassan Almaleki ran her down with his Jeep Cherokee. Noor fought for her life until Monday November 2, 2009, when she succumbed and died from her injuries. Noor was only 20 years old. Her father didn’t just run over Noor; at the time he ran her down, she was walking in a parking lot with her fiancé’s mother, Amal Edan Khalaf. The 43-year-old Amal Edan Khalaf was seriously injured.
This tragic story made national headlines when it was revealed that the girl’s father, Faleh Hassan Almaleki, deliberately targeted his daughter and attacked her for becoming too “Westernized.”
Nicole Furugia worked with Noor at Applebee's, and stayed in touch with her until her death.
But her employment there, like her life, was short lived. "She came in all frantic one day and asked me to cover her shift because her father found out where she worked," said Furugia. "She had to quit her job, and she had to move."
"She was a good person, and moral," according to Noor's friend Sharlee Caudle. "Most parents would be glad to have a child like that." Her friends described her as an aspiring model and actress, working and going to school.
I spoke with her former manager on the telephone, Chad Wilcoxon, and he told me “that Noor had to quit due to her dad,” she called one day and said “I have to quit due to family reasons.” He told me that “her death affected everyone here.” As we spoke, he explained, “I only worked with her for one month. I didn’t even know she was Iraqi.”
I wanted to get to know Noor before writing this story; she had pages on Facebook and MySpace. She had lots of friends. She posted details about herself; she posted a photo on a Web site for aspiring models and actresses. She lived with her boyfriend and his mother. But as I worked to track down people who knew her, I came upon some interesting twists to this story that I had not heard before.
Some friends of Noor said that her father had taken her to Iraq and told her they were visiting relatives. Once there, he married her off and left her to fend for herself. Noor then had to find enough money to make her way back to America and, once here, she moved in with the fiancé she loved. Furugia said she had gone with Noor to look into getting a restraining order against her father. "She was very determined on getting it, she was scared."
Family members told police that the father was upset that his daughter failed to live by traditional Muslim values, and prosecutors have also said Almaleki has admitted killing his daughter because she disgraced the family by not following traditional Iraqi or Muslim values. Faleh Hassan Almaleki was charged with first-degree murder, aggravated assault and two counts of leaving the scene of a serious accident. Police said Almaleki fled the country after the attack, driving to Mexico and later taking a plane to London. He was detained by British authorities and extradited back to the United States.
Speaking before a Maricopa County judge, county prosecutor Stephanie Low said Almaleki has admitted purposefully running down his daughter. Low indicated that Mr. Almaleki does not deny that his actions were intended to harm and even kill Noor:
“By his own admission, this was an intentional act and the reason was that his daughter had brought shame on him and his family,” Low said. “This was an attempt at an honor killing.”
Arizona, like 35 other states, currently has the death penalty and there are 133 people on death row. Obviously, a heinous crime such as one murdering one’s own child with premeditation would result in the death penalty if found guilty. But not in this case, no:the decision not to seek the death penalty was taken after Almaleki's attorney, Billy Little, a public defender, asked the judge to take special precautions to ensure that the County and Attorney's Office wouldn't wrongly seek the death penalty because…Almaleki is a Muslim.
Further, Little requested that the office make public the process it uses to determine whether to seek capital punishment. "An open process provides some level of assurance that there is no appearance that a Christian is seeking to execute a Muslim for racial, political, religious or cultural beliefs," Little wrote, referring to County Attorney Andrew Thomas' Christian faith.
Laura Reckart, a county prosecutor, responded that Little's concern about the "supposed bias" of the office's death penalty review process was "without legitimate factual or legal basis." She wrote that the state can seek the death penalty for any person convicted of first-degree murder if it can prove the existence of at least one aggravating factor, not because of religion.
However, the debate stopped there. On February 16th, Reckart filed a motion indicating prosecutors would not seek the death penalty. Mike Scerbo, a spokesman for the County Attorney's Office, issued the following statement on February 19th:
"The defendant is charged with first degree murder and, if convicted, will spend the rest of his life in prison. As is in all first degree murder cases, the decision on whether to seek the death penalty is made on a case by case basis. Cultural considerations played no part in the decision not to seek the death penalty." In other words, the clear message is this: this was an “honor killing,” this was religiously motivated and we as Americans have to take this into consideration and, as such, we should remove the death penalty from the table in such cases.
In my previous article “One Nation under Allah” I touched on this very subject of Sharia law. I explained that “the United Nations estimates that as many as 5,000 women are murdered in such honor killings each year for offenses like immodesty or refusing an arranged marriage…
The situation here is not whether Faleh Hassan Almaleki deserves the death penalty. It is totally irrelevant which side of the death penalty argument you advocate. This decision should concern each and every one of us because of the big picture. By removing the death penalty from this case, Maricopa County is setting a precedent that will have ramifications far reaching and far beyond the death penalty. This is only the beginning of a slippery slope that none of us should allow.
America has a Constitution, we have laws and we have freedoms. None of these laws are specific to only certain citizens; they apply to all of us, or at least that was the way our Founding Fathers envisioned it. When we as a nation start to pick and choose certain rules for certain people or religions or cultures, where does it end? Would it come as a surprise if someone charged with domestic violence or wife battery gets a lesser charge because he is a Muslim? It is only a matter of time before that will happen, now that this precedent has been set.
While Noor was fighting for her life her brother, Peter-Ali Almaleki, said that he loved his sister and that should she not have to be suffering from her injuries. But he added that the family lives by different cultural values. "One thing to one culture doesn't make sense to another culture," he added. So because "one thing to one culture doesn't make sense to another culture,” should we allow the laws, the rules and our values to be changed to align with another culture’s values, no matter what is enshrined in our Constitution?
I noticed during my research that one blogger wrote, "If you want to murder somebody in America, be sure to convert to Islam first." I think that sentence speaks volumes.
Here is what I propose: like I always say, speak up and do something about it. Our future generations will suffer at the hands of killers like Almaleki and the courts who will protect them simply with pseudo-Islamic Sharia law. Share your feelings with Maricopa County.
Mr. Billy Little
Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office
620 W Jackson Street, Suite 4015, Phoenix AZ 85003
Phone: 602-506-2200 Fax: 602-506-1865
Maricopa County Attorney's office 602-506-3411
I dedicate this article to Noor Almaleki and to the hundreds of thousands of other women who have died in the name of “honor.”
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Gadi Adelman is a freelance writer and lecturer on the history of terrorism and counterterrorism. He grew up in Israel, studying terrorism and Islam for 35 years after surviving a terrorist bomb in Jerusalem in which 7 children were killed. Since returning to the U. S., Gadi teaches and lectures to law enforcement agencies as well as high schools and colleges. He is currently writing his first book, "Terrorism; Understanding the Threat". He can be reached through his website http://gadiadelman.com.