September 26, 2008, - 4:52 am
Who Is Ali Taleb?: How a Hezbollah Terrorist Wanted in Lebanon Tried to Frame My Counterterrorist Client in Court. . . And LOST; No Thanks to ICE
By Debbie Schlussel
After 9/11, America asked its resident Muslims to help us fight Islamic terrorism on our soil, but–despite their repeated claims of loyalty to America–few answered the call.
One of those who did risk his life and started informing the U.S. government on terrorist-related criminal activities within the Islamic community was a client I’ve represented since May. For his good work for America, my client was outed, had a death fatwa (Islamic religious decree) put on his head, and was framed for a crime he did not commit.
Wayne County (Michigan) prosecutors, based in Detroit, continued to prosecute my client despite exculpatory evidence showing he was innocent and that his accuser was lying. And the U.S. government–eager to please the most extremist, pan-terrorist Muslims in America–turned its back on my client. His Immigration and Customs Enforcement handler also turned his back on my client.
But I did not. In what would have easily been a $15,000-25,000 case, I chose to defend my indigent client–who lost everything because of the Hezbollah-backed false charges–pro bono (free of charge). I am not a wealthy person by any stretch of the imagination, but this is something I believe in. And I put my lack of money where my mouth is.
On Tuesday, after a day-and-a-half trial, my client–we’ll call him “Haidar”–was acquitted in 25 minutes by a very bright and intuitive jury.
A man named Ali Taleb–a Hezbollah terrorist wanted in Lebanon for kidnapping and murder–and his fellow gang of Hezbollah thugs from and liars from Dearbornistan showed up in court to falsely accuse my client of Felony Illegal Possession of a Firearm and Felony Assault with a Firearm.
And, despite a stubborn and unprofessional judge–Judge Thomas Jackson–who did everything in his power to exclude evidence that would prove my client’s innocence and who mocked, laughed at, and repeatedly ridiculed and belittled me and my client in front of the jury during the trial, we managed to overcome the frame-up job. It certainly restored my faith in our jury system. Thank G-d for it.
My client was falsely accused of driving his car by the complainant’s business, pulling out a gun, and threatening to kill the complainant. A gun was never recovered because it never happened. It was all made up by a Hezbollah agent who didn’t like my client’s opposition to Hezbollah and the fact that my client’s wife was Jewish and found out that my client was a confidential informant to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
About my client’s accuser, Ali Taleb: He comes from South Lebanon, where his entire immediate family is deeply involved in Hezbollah. Ali Taleb made tapes of my client denouncing Hezbollah and Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and sent them to Hezbollah. Because of this, my client cannot return to Lebanon and has a death fatwa (Islamic religious decree) against him.
Taleb has repeatedly threatened to murder my client and still calls him and his wife at all hours of the night with threats and heavy breathing. Because of this and Taleb’s death threats, my client had to quickly close up his successful body shop business, sell his expensive equipment worth thousands for pennies, and escape to another state. Taleb and his buddies are still trying to find out where that is.
Several years ago, before all of this, it began when Taleb found out my client’s wife is a Jew (she is from an Arabic country and has an Arab Muslim father). Taleb was repairing my client’s wife’s Jeep Liberty and sabotaged the steering column, so that it wouldn’t work when she drove it. When my client discovered this, he asked Ali Taleb why he did this. Ali Taleb, in an anti-Semitic tirade against Jews, asked my client how he could marry a “dirty Jew”. He then said, “Come on, let’s kill her and collect the insurance money. She’s a Jew. We should kill her.”
One of Ali Taleb’s brothers, Hussein Taleb, was a top Hezbollah terrorist, who was killed in a Hezbollah terrorist operation by rival terrorists. Hussein Taleb was originally a terrorist for Harakat Amal (the Amal Militia) terrorist group, but then switched to Hezbollah–the terrorist group that murdered hundreds of Americans and Jews–where he became a top operative. To get back at him, Harakat Amal killed Hussein Taleb while he was committing a Hezbollah terrorist act. Today, though, Amal has merged into Hezbollah, and all of the Harakat Amal members are big-time Hezbollah supporters.
Another one of Ali Taleb’s brothers, Faraj Taleb, was killed in 1992 as he tried to rob a business that conducts the exchange of foreign money. A female teller shot him.
Then, there is Ali Taleb, himself. Originally, he was involved in security for Nabih Berry, head of Harakat Amal and Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament. Berry–who is on America’s no-fly list–is one of Hezbollah’s key men in the Lebanese government, and he served as Hezbollah’s spokesman/negotiator when it hijacked TWA Flight 847 and tortured Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem to death.
Taleb, himself, admits that he was a terrorist for Harakat Amal (now part of Hezbollah), and that there was a warrant issued for his arrest in Lebanon in 1983, for masterminding the kidnapping of Hassan Ezzedine, a top Hezbollah operative and right-hand man to Imad Mughnieh–the late chief of Hezbollah’s terrorist operations.
On the second day of trial, as I was about to put my client on the stand before closing arguments, the prosecutor, Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Raj Prasad, showed me a translated Lebanese newspaper article discussing the kidnapping and the warrant for Ali Taleb’s arrest–a document never served on me as required by the discovery order in this case. Prosecutor Prasad said he was going to introduce it to “prove” that Ali Taleb was not a Hezbollah terrorist. I told him to go for it. The article proved Taleb was a member of a rival terrorist group, committed kidnappings for the group, and is now part of Hezbollah, since the rival terrorist group–Harakat Amal–is now part of Hezbollah. Sadly, he did not end up using the article, and Judge Jackson refused to allow me to call Taleb as a witness or introduce the article into evidence. Yup, the judge in a criminal case refused to allow the defense to call the complainant. It’s simply unheard of.
Ali Taleb is also wanted in Lebanon for the 1989 robbery murder of two people, according to Lebanese intelligence sources. He shot and killed a man and his wife in Shayah, in the Hezbollah stronghold of South Beirut, while he was robbing them.
Ali Taleb worked with the CIA. Yes, this is the kind of scum with whom the CIA worked and continues to work. Since there were arrest warrants for him in Lebanon, he fled the country and went to Sierra Leone, where many Hezbollah-allied Lebanese Arabs live and have businesses. Lebanese intelligence sources say the late Jamil Said, a pro-Hezbollah multi-millionaire who liked Taleb, got Taleb a diplomatic visa from the government of Sierra Leone, from which he traveled to Canada. Taleb also worked with a shadowy figure, Jamal Hamdan, who now lives in the U.S. and is believed to be one of the Achille Lauro hijackers who murdered wheelchair-bound American citizen Leon Klinghoffer.
In Canada, Ali Taleb sought asylum. While waiting for the Canadian government to make its decision, Taleb lived in Montreal, from which he ran an alien smuggling business. He charged Arab Muslims and others $3,000 to smuggle them over the Northern New York border into the United States. (Among those he smuggled were my client, his wife, and two daughters. After being smuggled through a forest, finding themselves on a remote, empty, snowy road, my client and his wife were picked up by Border Patrol agents and soon sought asylum because they opposed Hezbollah and my clients’ wife is Jewish.)
Eventually, the Canadian government rejected Ali Taleb’s request for asylum and ordered him deported. Canada was aware of the warrants for Taleb’s arrest, his involvement with Harakat Amal and Hezbollah, and the kidnapping and murder charges against him.
So guess who took Ali Taleb in, when even Canada dumped him like yesterday’s garbage?
Yup, Ali Taleb has been living in the United States since 1992 with his family. Although he is apparently not a U.S. citizen, he’s lived here freely, despite his criminal and Hezbollah past and present.
Aren’t you glad that we allow this terrorist trash–trash rejected by Lebanon and Canada–to come live in our midst?
This was my client’s accuser, but the jury didn’t get to hear most of this, since Judge Thomas Jackson refused to let me bring it in.
I was lucky he even let me ask a few questions about Hezbollah. Barely. Thank Heaven for small favors. But it wasn’t such a favor. Every time I mentioned Hezbollah, Judge Jackson rolled his eyes, laughed, sighed, or otherwise mocked me, in full view and hearing of the jury. I felt like George Bush debating Al Gore in 2000, where know-it-all Gore was doing the same thing. It was completely improper and prejudicial to my case.
(A sidenote: Judge Jackson is an audio-separated-at-birth voice double of actor Morgan Freeman. They sound exactly alike, except that Morgan Freeman–while not wearing a robe and without college and law degrees–can actually pronounce the word “ask”. No, Judge Jackson, the word is not the same as the one for a wooden shaft with a giant sharp metal blade at the end.)
Judge Jackson kept lecturing me–both in front of the jury and away from them–that Hezbollah has nothing to do with the accusations in this case. But it had everything to do with it.
From his auto body shop in Detroit, Taleb has been engaged in mass cases of insurance fraud, and my client informed authorities about it (they did nothing). As my client testified on the stand, Taleb and his Hezbollah associates have been faking crashes of cars, so they can trump up alleged repairs and collect insurance money. Some of the profits apparently go to Hezbollah.
Ali Taleb has a long history of filing false police reports and making phony criminal accusations against those with whom he disagrees. In 2006, for instance, Ali Taleb made the exact same allegations against Zein El-Abidine Charaf-Eddine, one of Taleb’s alleged partners in insurance fraud. (They had a falling out when Charaf-Eddine refused to share the insurance fraud check with Taleb.)
Taleb told police that Charaf-Eddine drove by Taleb’s business in his car, pulled out a gun, and threatened to kill Taleb. Same exact fact pattern. Wayne County prosecutors charged Charaf-Eddine (in Case Number 06-1317), but eventually had to drop the charges because Taleb wasn’t credible. Taleb also filed, but then withdrew, a police complaint in 2005, making the same allegations against my client.
But Judge Jackson refused to allow me to bring this evidence–about the same false accusation Taleb made against another of his enemies and how the case was dropped–before the jury. And he refused to let me call the prosecutor in that case, Thomas Beadle, to testify about why he dropped the case.
Judge Jackson also refused to allow me to bring up at trial another false police report Taleb filed against my client. The day my client’s preliminary exam was supposed to be held, Ali Taleb saw his client had a tough Jewish lawyer (me) and was upset that I also obtained permission for my client to move out of the State of Michigan. So, he filed a phony complaint with police that my client located him in the middle of traffic and got out of his car and threatened him. One problem: My client was at a gas station all day long waiting to get paid for a car he sold the owner, and we had a witness–actually several witnesses–who were with him. Judge Jackson barred all of this from being presented in front of the jury.
But just in case he had, the prosecution suddenly brought a new witness to testify that he saw my client threaten Taleb in the middle of traffic. That witness was not in the police report, because he was never there. It was made up. That “witness”, Hussein Barakat, was also the “witness” in the false Zein Charaf-Eddine case.
This is life in America’s Hezbollah ‘Hood. And that life spread to the courtroom. Just before the second day of trial began, Judge Jackson informed us that one of the jurors reported that he/she had been approached by one of the witnesses regarding the case. It was apparently Ali Taleb or one of his thugs, trying to persuade them to find my client guilty.
On the stand, Ali Taleb lied through his teeth–the usual Muslim “taqiyyah” (permitted Islamic deception of infidels). He said, “I hate Hezbollah,” when we know that he’s one of Hezbollah’s most vocal cheerleaders on the streets of Dearbornistan. He also said about Jews, “I love them. They’re wonderful people.”
Oh, and by the way, he had a translator, even though he spoke perfect English.
Taleb’s friend, and apparent partner in insurance fraud, Ali Abdel Sater–who spells his surname in a gazillion different ways to confuse law enforcement and other authorities–was his only corroborating witness. He claimed he saw the events in question. He also claimed, under oath, that he spoke with police as Taleb’s translator. But when I questioned the police who responded to the complaint and went to the scene of the alleged incident, they testified that Ali Taleb spoke to them in English and that they never spoke with anyone else or had a translator.
A little about Ali Abdel Sater: My client testified on the stand that Abdel Sater not only engages in insurance fraud with Ali Taleb, but that he helps “steal” people’s leased cars so they can get out of leases. My Lebanese intelligence sources tell me that he owns a restaurant/cafeteria/ice cream parlor in the Bekaa Valley, a Hezbollah stronghold. All of the employees are Hezbollah members, and all of the profits from the eatery go straight to Hezbollah. Abdel Sater is not U.S. Citizen, and sources say he does not even have a Green Card. He did marry an American woman to try to get a Green Card.
As I said, Taleb’s false police complaints and similar charges against others were barred by Judge Jackson. I was able to get some of the insurance fraud stuff in, but only because I put my client on the stand–and even then, Judge Jackson stopped me in the middle of that line of questioning.
Putting a defendant on the stand is not usually done in criminal defense cases, and it’s generally a mistake. But in this case, my client was so credible, so courageous in his willingness to denounce Hezbollah and terrorism, and had so many death threats and so much persecution from Taleb, I felt his testimony would help seal the deal on my case.
Fortunately it did. Like I said, the jury took only 25 minutes after a day-and-a-half case to acquit my client. Thank G-d for this intelligent and sagacious jury. I had tears in my eyes when the jury read the verdict.
After the trial, I wanted to go outside the courtroom with my client and his family and thank the jury and ask them what sealed the acquittal. But I didn’t get that chance because the smug Judge Jackson chose to keep us in the courtroom and lecture me. He was upset that we won this case. It was clear he wanted us to lose. And he was upset that in my closing argument, I shoved one of his many denigrating comments about me in his face.
During the trial, when the Judge cut off my examination of my witnesses and barely allowed me to put on a case, he said, “This is NOT the trial of the century!” in front of jurors. So, in my closing argument, I began by saying:
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, you heard a comment from the bench that this is not the trial of the century. But for my client, who has already lost everything because of these politically-motivated and ethnically-bigoted false charges and who stands to lose his freedom, this IS the trial of the century. For his family, who stand to lose their father and husband of four kids and one on the way, this IS the trial of the century. And if you or I were up there on the stand or at the defense table, defending ourselves against these false charges, this would be the trial of the century.
(I also asked jurors not to let Middle Eastern, old world values and thuggish charges and persecution of moderate Muslims take over America’s courtrooms. And they didn’t disappoint.)
Judge Jackson apparently didn’t like that, and he didn’t like that I tried to get the Hezbollah stuff in–and, above all, that it resulted in a win. Instead of thanking the jurors and speaking with them, I and my client were treated to a post-trial, on-the-record lecture from the Judge about how he was correct in making his inappropriate “trial of the century” comment and how I didn’t try the case properly (hmmm . . . the jurors found my client not guilty of two charges in 25 minutes of deliberations; yet I didn’t “try the case the right way”?!) and how “six years from now when you get more trial experience, you’ll thank me.” I have plenty of trial experience, and I won’t be thanking you, Judge Jackson. Bet on it.
I sat there with a blank stare instead of responding with the groveling “thank you, Your Honor” that he wanted and expected. I was not going to thank this guy who sneered at and mocked me for the entire trial and did everything in his power to try to make me lose this case and make my client lose his freedom.
A few words about other goings on at the trial:
One of the biggest hindrances in this case was my client’s ICE handler, Special Agent Jason Brumley. Despite my client’s hard work for ICE at risk to his life and family members’ lives, ICE gave “Haidar” and me the shaft. My client enabled Brumley and other ICE agents to seize hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal drugs and break a giant international auto theft ring tied to Hezbollah.
For all of that, “Haidar” was repaid by ICE with Special Agent Brumley lying to prosecutors and dissing my client. Oh, and refusing to testify in court–ICE opposed my subpoena at the last possible minute and refused to allow Brumley to testify.
Based on my client’s treatment by ICE and the rest of the U.S. government, I would advise all future Arab Muslim clients not to work with the agency as informants . . . unless they’re prepared to be jammed up, lose their freedom, and have thousands for a lawyer. They treat good, decent informants (like my client) like criminals and terrorists, while top ICE officials repeatedly fete Muslims and Arabs who are terrorists and/or support them like good, decent people.
When I first called Special Agent Jason Brumley, he informed me that he knew Ali Taleb to be a bad guy and a criminal involved in insurance fraud and all kinds of other illegal activity. Brumley told me that his office knew that Taleb had been an illegal alien smuggler and that they once worked with Taleb as an informant. He said it was very brief because his office learned “how dirty” (his words) Ali Taleb was and knew he was continuing to be involved in criminal enterprises.
Agent Brumley also told me that my client, “Haidar”, was a good informant and gave him information that led to ICE seizing huge illegal drug shipments. He told me he would vouch for my client and certainly wouldn’t vouch for Ali Taleb. But when I relayed this to prosecutors and they called Agent Brumley, he changed his tune entirely. Brumley claimed he never said anything bad about Ali Taleb and told prosecutors that he didn’t trust my client.
I told my client never to work with ICE again and certainly not Brumley. It simply wasn’t worth it. Brumley called me and was very angry and changed his story yet again, saying he would call prosecutors and “repair” what he said. But it was too late. He jammed up my client, his informant, and I hope the few other Arabs and Muslims considering working with him read this and reconsider. You’ll be betrayed. The guy–ICE Agent Jason Brumley–cannot be trusted. How many other ICE agents treat their informants this way? How many times does ICE fight subpoenas, preventing its agents from answering questions that would bolster their informants against trumped up charges and leaving them to fight the case alone? Meanwhile, Brumley’s boss, Julie L. Myers, fetes top Hezbollah and HAMAS agents–including “former” Islamic terrorist Imad Hamad–over plates of falafel.
This is how we treat the Muslims and Arabs that help us–let their whole lives be trashed–versus our kowtowing to and Ramadan Iftar dinners for the most extremist Muslims we can find in America. It’s sickening. And it’s why we’re losing the domestic fight against Islamic terrorism.
Outside of the courtroom, Ali Taleb, his gang of lying Hezbollah thugs, and other Muslims called me “Sharmoutah Yehudiah” (Jewish whore) and “Wooskhah” (filth). Ali Taleb shouted, “How does she know about Hezbollah?” And his lying Hezbo buddy, Ali Abdel Sater declared, “If he’s acquitted, I’m leaving the country.”
To that, I say, “Yaala, Zbali“–Get going, garbage. And don’t let the door hit your Hezbollah-infected butt on the way out.
Then, there were the prosecutors on the case. At the several hearings before the trial, the original prosecutor was a young woman named Andrea Hutting. Even though she has been a lawyer for only three years, she treated me with extreme disdain and like I was a total dummy. I was repeatedly bitched out by this arrogant, insubstantial person, who refused to drop the case even though she was made aware of the evidence that Ali Taleb had made the same phony accusations against others, including in the Charaf-Eddine case that her own office dismissed. She also bitched me out because I didn’t know the name of the secretary in the prosecutor’s office. I’m supposed to know the name of someone’s secretary, with whom I’ve never dealt? And for this, I should be repeatedly chewed out by a 20-something dummy-ette? It was absurd. Who wants to deal with a woman who consistently acts like she has an extreme case of perpetual PMS?
She apparently couldn’t handle me anymore because she gave the case to another young prosecutor, Raj Prasad, also only a lawyer for about three years. He, too, treated me like a total dummy. But that worked for me, so I went with it. His opening and closing statements were so slick, glib, smug, and arrogant, along with his behavior, that the jury wasn’t buying. My style in court is direct and blunt. I get to the point. I don’t talk about science fiction and “CSI”, like the prosecutor did. Jurors don’t want to feel like they’re being treated as naive rubes.
Prosecutor Prasad apologized to jurors for me putting my client’s 13-year-old daughter on the stand. But he should have apologized to her for putting her father in jail for three days on false accusations, and for putting him in the position where we had to have her testify as a witness. It was chutzpah. But what really bothered him was that she was a great witness–very sincere and very credible, and she had an impact on the jury.
“Haidar” is one of the lucky ones. Lucky to keep his freedom and be there for his four children and the upcoming birth of his fifth. But not so lucky, since the death fatwa (Islamic religious decree) over his head remains. He cannot return to Lebanon to see his mother. Some of his brothers and one of his sisters told him they want to slit his throat.
And he’s lost everything. Under the stress, “Haidar’s” wife miscarried the child to which she was about to give birth. He had to shut down his successful auto body shop and sell thousands of dollars of equipment for pennies on the dollar, so he and his family could pick up and move to another state, while the complainant in this case, Ali Taleb, tried to continue to carry out his threats to kill my client.
For several weeks, my client and his four kids lived in a homeless shelter. Now, he and his pregnant wife work at a fast-food restaurant chain franchise for a tiny fraction of what he used to earn.
We won my client’s freedom, but what we didn’t win in court was the deportation of this terrorist thug and his gang. They continue to rule the roost in Dearborn and the Detroit area . . . because incompetent prosecutors and judges and federal agents continue to let them.
“Haidar’s” victory in court on Tuesday is a tiny drop in a sea of poisonous waters.
We need a sea change. And, sadly, it doesn’t appear in the cards.
Ali Taleb, Ali Abdel Sater, and their gang remain free in our midst–on America’s streets–to make more of these charges against innocent people. And to make more inroads for Hezbollah.
I’m told that Ali Taleb and Ali Abdel Sater are now worried that, because of the trial, federal and state authorities know about their terrorist activities. They’re worried and are talking of leaving the country.
Unfortunately, they have no reason to be worried. We know the feds–who’ve long known about them and have done nothing–will continue to do nothing.
But It would be great if they started packing. Up next, my client is considering suing them.
Even though I tried this case entirely on my own, I want to thank two great criminal defense attorneys whom I consulted and who gave me great advice that I used at trial: Rick Convertino/strong> and Michael Alan Schwartz.
Here’s a special salute to Ali Taleb, Ali Abdel Sater, and all the Hezbollah thugs who showed up in court–Imad Beydoun, Hassan Barakat, etc.–to frame my client:
You are all girlie men. Oh, and you’re mnyook, too.