“When I was a kid, even though I had a funny name, and didn’t look like everyone else, it honestly took me a very long time to realize that. Substitute teachers would come, and start to take attendance, and hesitate, because my name was at the top of the class list, Ahmad. “I’d kind of like to go back to a time in America when teachers didn’t know where Pakistan is.”Jamile told me, “When Zainab was little, she wanted to be a receptionist. She had planned to be a hospital administrator, but things went sideways after the September 11th attacks, and she ended up at Columbia Law School, on a full scholarship. Zainab doesn’t come across as a hardboiled, aggressive prosecutor. The investigators moved carefully, placing an informant with Defreitas, but not, at first, asking him to gather evidence with a tape recorder. You need to be able to relate to people from all over the world.”Miller’s team discovered links between Kadir and Mohsen Rabbani, an Iranian diplomat believed to be the mastermind of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. In their view, the innocent lives lost would be mere collateral damage.”Defreitas had testified that his tape-recorded plans to cause devastation were just empty talk. Terrorism is only one area of transnational crime, but it is easily the most high-profile. When I asked her, at the Perp Diner, about how an American prosecutor “coöperates” a jihadist, she drummed her fingers, shook her head, and finally came up empty.
They’d say, ‘I know I’m going to pronounce this wrong.’ And the whole class would be, like, ‘ Duh.’“Every year, in elementary school, we’d have American Heritage Day. One judge she clerked for, Reena Raggi, of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, recalls her strong academic background in finance and economics. “We weren’t sure about Guyana law, or the Guyanese, and you don’t want to blow your informant,” Ahmad said. Kadir, they determined, was planning to engage the Iranian military and special forces in his plot. S., you could afford to let it go and roll up more people. “Ladies and gentlemen, that is ridiculous,” Ahmad said. Russell Defreitas is doing everything he can to make his nightmare a reality.” The jury deliberated for five days. “Everybody I’ve flipped is still under seal.”On certain mornings, when she’s in town, her workday starts with a walk across town to Chelsea, where the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force has its headquarters.
In the Senate, the drive to oppose and defund civilian trials for accused terrorists has long been led by the Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Judge Margo Brodie, of the Eastern District, who was formerly the deputy chief of the Criminal Division at E. It never dawned on her that the reason she had so much work was that she’s so good.”Bloesch worked closely with Ahmad on a gruelling 2015 trial, providing information about events in Pakistan. We just discussed the case till we crashed and woke up with new ideas.”Building an extraterritorial terrorism case typically requires permission from foreign governments to conduct investigations in their domains, and then assistance in apprehending suspects and transferring them to American custody.
“This is no way to fight a war,” the three senators and a group of their colleagues wrote, in a 2015 letter to Eric Holder, then the Attorney General. Attorney’s office would be most effective on this case? “I’ve never seen anybody work that many hours,” she said. We worked Saturdays, Sundays.” Celia Cohen, one of Ahmad’s co-counsels on that case, lives in New Jersey and has two young children, but she moved into Ahmad’s apartment in Manhattan for three weeks during the trial. This process can involve a great many sign-offs—delicate, overlapping negotiations prone to being buffeted by political and bureaucratic winds.
Visits to Pakistan were an adventure—she had dashing, rowdy cousins—but England was often a shock. “My cousins, no matter how successful or well educated, were never going to be accepted as British. In 1977, the couple moved to New York, where Zainab was born three years later. Her house in Niger had been searched in the initial investigation. “We got a lot of pushback from the Embassy on that trip,” Ahmad said. I remember an official in Niger saying, ‘I really hope my country will do what you’re doing if something happens to me.’ ”Cheibani’s home town of policemen who had originally arrested Cheibani had fled south, and she found them outside the capital, Bamako. She I first met her at a rooftop barbecue in the Village.
We were the same, except he went to temple and I went to mosque.”Zainab’s parents describe her as a cheerful, precocious child. “But the interview process was so cumbersome there, so formal. I need permission from the Embassy, the State Department, the Niger government. Turned out it him.” The French handed Cheibani to the Malians. “She always sings lighthearted, feisty-girl songs,” her friend said.“But nobody thinks our job is to stamp out bank robbery. People expect us to prevent it.” Many terror cases are difficult to make, with the strongest evidence often classified or inadmissible. She grew up in suburban Nassau County, Long Island, with her father and stepmother and two younger brothers, and she also lived part time with her mother, in Manhattan. ’ I was always so glad to get home.”“We felt comfortable here,” Naeem told me, when I visited him and his wife, Nasrin, at their home, in East Meadow. I don’t care what other people do.”Naeem and his first wife, Jamile, left Pakistan for Canada in the nineteen-seventies—for economic reasons, he said. special agent, who has completed several tours in Pakistan and is now based in Philadelphia, told me, “If there’s a way to legally establish venue, the E. The original eyewitness, the security guard, had long vanished and was presumed dead. “He was petrified,” she said, but ultimately agreed to testify. “Zainab has a wider range of people she’s close to than the rest of us do,” a friend of hers, a freelance writer, told me.Her parents had divorced, amicably, when she was an infant, and, as Zainab grew, according to her father, Naeem, “she would play Mom off against Dad, but always for one thing—to buy more books.” Her parents were part of the Pakistani diaspora, and Zainab spent summers in Pakistan and England. “I felt comfortable with my neighbors, and never told my children to avoid kids because they’re Christian, Jewish—none of that.” (Most of Zainab’s friends as a child were Jewish.) Naeem, a retired engineer, is an active member of a local mosque, and has taught Sunday school since the nineteen-eighties. But his engineering degree, from the University of Peshawar, was not recognized in Canada, so he found work investigating insurance claims. For that, Ahmad gave credit to her case agent, John Ross, a former New York City police officer: “Ross has incredible people skills.”Ahmad and Ross went next to Algeria, looking for a woman who had been engaged to a Cheibani associate. Because we’ve only put him in the truck.” The woman and her daughter were a prostitute team, now living in the southern Algerian city of Adrar. “She’ll throw a party at her place, and it’s cops, actors, journalists, filmmakers, doctors, businesspeople, Pakistani lawyers, academics.S.” When Zainab was eight or nine, she and Naeem read the entire Quran together, which took about a year. Later, as an undergraduate at Cornell, majoring in health policy, she studied Arabic. A few days earlier—this was last spring—there had been a Trump campaign rally in Bethpage, a couple of miles to the east. She said, ‘I couldn’t take it when he took off his watch and his necklace and gave them to his family.’ She had got to know these people. makes you kind of entrepreneurial,” Marshall Miller told me. Immediately after 9/11, we had, I think, zero terrorism cases. You gotta go out there and make friends with all the agents and legats. “Foreign governments won’t coöperate with us,” he said. Finally, she told me, the Malians said, “Yes, come and get him.” Ahmad exhaled, shaking her head. On road trips with her best friend from college, Shally Madan, who lives in California, Madonna, Rihanna, and the “Bend It Like Beckham” soundtrack see heavy rotation.“You could hear the roaring from here,” Naeem said. _’s.” Like his daughter, Naeem has a quick tongue and a ready laugh. So I said, ‘Which side would you rather be on, the government or the defense? Ahmad seems barely to share her intensity (or much else) about her work with her nonwork friends.