Pakistani-American taking down terrorists in court
Pakistani-American taking down terrorists in court: One of America’s top counterterrorism prosecutors who specialises in extraterritorial cases is Zainab Ahmad. Her work involves gathering evidence related to crimes outside the US and bringing them to trial before juries back home.
Ahmad, 37, was born in New York to an immigrant family from Pakistan. One of her pursuits was against Alhassane Ould Mohamed, who was charged with murdering an American diplomat in Niger in 2000. She had 18 witnesses flown into the US from Niger and Mali to press charges against him.
In November 2015, it was because of Ahmad that a Pakistani man, Abid Naseer was arrested in connection with an Al Qaeda plot in Britain.
“We were a bit desperate before Zainab showed up here,” a British police officer told The New Yorker. “When Zainab walked into the room, we said, ‘Crikey, she looks awfully young. Is this a junior sent here to fact-find?’,” he added.
“Within a few minutes, though, it was, like, ‘Whoa, she knows what she’s doing.’ There was no comparison with UK prosecutors. Zainab stayed four days with us on that first visit, and left us a big list of evidence she wanted, and exactly how she wanted it packaged up.”
Ahmed has fought 13 such cases and is yet to lose a case.
Assistant US Attorney Zainab Ahmad delivered her closing arguments at the trial against Abid Naseer.
Her stellar reputation among prosecutors at the Eastern District of New York was bound to attract the attention of Washington. And when her boss Loretta Lynch took over as the attorney general, she sent for Ahmad to the head office.
She has returned to the Eastern District after the new team of President Donald Trump and attorney general Jeff Sessions took over, back to wrestling with extraterritorial counterterrorism.
But the country has changed too, Ahmad told The New Yorker. “If I were 15 now, growing up where I did—I don’t know. Everything’s changed,” meaning the level of mistrust that Muslims in America face, according to the magazine.
And about Pakistan, she said growing up she couldn’t find it on the map when asked at school. She would be embarrassed, but felt better because even teachers could not.
But now, Pakistan is closely identified with terrorism in American public memory, especially since May 2011, when Osama bin Laden was killed in his hideout in Abbottabad.
“I’d kind of like to go back to a time in America when teachers didn’t know where Pakistan is,” Ahmad said.
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