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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.“He did the Gotti trial.”The Eastern District of New York has long been known for its work against organized crime. In December, 2000, William Bultemeier, a military attaché, was gunned down in a midnight carjacking outside a restaurant in the capital. finances its campaigns by smuggling and by kidnapping Westerners, and Cheibani was said to have participated in the kidnapping of two Canadian diplomats in 2008.The accused was Alhassane Ould Mohamed, also known as Cheibani, who was famed around the Sahel as a smuggler. Bultemeier’s vehicle, a Toyota Land Cruiser that belonged to the Embassy, was recovered in Timbuktu, and Cheibani’s fingerprints and DNA were found inside. After a subsequent attack on a Saudi convoy in Niger left four dead, he was caught, tried, and sentenced to twenty years. The next year, with Cheibani “in the wind,” as Ahmad put it, she obtained an indictment, and soon afterward the French Army caught him in an Al Qaeda column in northern Mali.His boss, who eventually became his partner, was a Hindu from India. “But if there was a war between India and Pakistan we didn’t bring it home. We’re the supplicants here.” The daughter turned out to be helpful, and Ahmad put her on the list of witnesses to be flown to Brooklyn. A few months later, when the French Army reported capturing Cheibani, Ahmad was uncertain that it was really him. But, she said, “We had his biometrics, from his Bamako arrest. It was one of the most moving moments I’ve felt doing this work.”I had heard from several people that Ahmad has a great rapport with juries. We were back at the Cadman Plaza diner—which, I’d learned, Brooklyn prosecutors call the Perp Diner. She loves New York, and steps lightly through the swelter of an East Village sidewalk. You see that light, and you want to get near it.”After hours, Ahmad likes to sing karaoke at a joint on Avenue A.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.
“When there’s a bank robbery, we try to solve the crime,” Ahmad said. If we lost a major extraterritorial case, there might never be another chance.”Ahmad had a multifaceted upbringing. She found another eyewitness, a one-legged beggar called Toto, who was still working outside La Cloche, the restaurant where Bultemeier had eaten his last meal. Though she lives alone, and travels constantly, she manages a busy, even glittering social life.“She never walked, she always skipped,” Jamile, who now lives in Pakistan, told me. We had to take an Algerian judge with us to her house. agents, or that they’ll get in trouble if they talk to us.”Ahmad, who really is a U. agent, says that she also struggles to cultivate foreign witnesses. We’re a government engaged in sovereign relations with a foreign government, and in deference to them.”Ahmad pursued the Cheibani case because, she said, it seemed both important and feasible. “It’s not like we’re going around West Africa trying to charge everybody who supports A. As Ahmad worked toward an extradition, her diplomatic skills were at full stretch. “I thought Taylor Swift was just trendy and beneath notice until I heard Zainab sing ‘Blank Space’ there with her cop friend Ed.” On cross-examination, Ahmad admitted that her signature karaoke tune is “Manic Monday,” as interpreted by the Bangles.