By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
"I said, 'Moataz wants to talk to you. This is a horrible crime. He wants to help,' " Cohen remembered. "I said, 'Gimme a subpoena.' No subpoena was issued. Everyone said, 'We'll get back to you.' But no one returned calls." Last week, Cohen took Al-Hallak to Washington. He presented the imam to the media and released a four-page letter he had written to Assistant U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks, renewing Al-Hallak's offer to be interviewed by prosecutors. On his way back to New York, Cohen received a call from Patrick Fitzgerald, a U.S. attorney who had grilled Al-Hallak before a grand jury in connection to the deadly embassy bombings in Africa.
Fitzgerald invited Cohen and Al-Hallak back to Washington. "We spent three hours, just sitting with prosecutors, no FBI, as was his right," Cohen told the Muslims in Passaic. "As I had suspected, 95 percent of the interrogation had nothing to do with this crime. It was general intelligence information he wanted about the community, about organizations overseas. Yes, there were some questions about this horrible crime, and yes, Moataz was shown 20 photographs and asked: Did he know anyone? No. Had he ever spoken to anyone? No." He said that after viewing the pictures, Al-Hallak burst into tears. "They're children," Cohen quoted the imam as saying. "They're children, these boys."
The feds, Cohen bragged, had nothing on Al-Hallak. "We left," he said. "The No. 1 terrorist that everyone in the country was hot to find, and to interrogate, and to jail, walked outnot arrested, not charged, not subpoenaed, back home with his family."
The JDO HAS a history of issuing vicious threats. In 1991, lawyers for the Reverend Al Sharpton accused JDO leader Mordechai Levy of calling for the death of the civil rights activist. Levy had erroneously blamed Sharpton of inciting attacks on Hasidic Jews in Crown Heights. At the time, Levy's attorney denied the allegations. Now the JDO wants to strong-arm Stanley Cohen and run him out of towna tactic that should attract the attention of the new Office of Homeland Security. But Cohen, whose clientele includes accused cop-shooters and drug-dealing gangstas, has all the protection he needs. In Loisaida, where la familia watches Cohen's back, the JDO is persona non grata.