The Usual Suspects

Defending Arabs and Muslims in the Age of the New War

"Mazin Assi, who has a serious diabetes problem, a low IQ, and speaks some English, some Arabic, is in and out of both worlds," Cohen offers. "He was interrogated literally around the clock, and denied access to insulin. The cops told him they would get him some only after he told them he did it. Paramedics eventually showed up but said they didn't have the authority to give him an insulin injection. The cops said my client made a modified confession or admission about his role. He was then taken to a hospital, given an injection of insulin, and taken to court. He became very ill, went into insulin shock, and remained in intensive care for three days."

Mazin, who sat in jail for seven months because he couldn't make the stiff $100,000 bail, was released in June after posting half of the money. Cohen chastised Bronx D.A. Robert Johnson for making a big deal out of nothing.

"Rob Johnson, whom I have a tremendous amount of respect for, is in my opinion being driven by the need to court the synagogue or pro-Zionist lobby in the Bronx," he charges. "This is a case that can reasonably be done away with, in which all sides can benefit." Johnson would disagree. "This particular case having happened at the time it did, on the eve virtually of Yom Kippur, and at a time of strife in the Middle East, is of particular importance to the entire city, and we are going to treat it that way," the D.A. said shortly after the men were charged.

Late into the night on Day Six, Stanley Cohen is still reassuring Arabs like Said Assi, steadfastly refusing to consider the possibility that Mazin could be convicted and that the penalty would be severe—a way for jurors to send a message about hate crime in the age of the "new war." He then consults with Moataz Al-Hallak before retiring to bed. Al-Hallak, he reiterates minutes later, will not voluntarily cooperate with the FBI. "If they want him to come talk, there is this wonderful document that says, 'We command,' " he declares. "It is called a subpoena. Subpoena us and we will come in and do what we have to do."

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