Rich Saudi Students Vanishing Across US After Kingdom Makes Bail On Rape, Manslaughter Charges
Wealthy Saudi Arabian students living in the United States have been vanishing while facing criminal charges, including rape, manslaughter and other felonies, reports Oregon Live, which has conducted an investigation into the disappearances.
The Oregonian/OregonLive uncovered five examples in Oregon and began searching other states in late January. We’ve found similar cases in Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
We also found two cases in Nova Scotia: Saudi students in two separate incidents skipped bail and disappeared after being accused of sexual assault. –Oregon Live
The Oregon cases involved Saudi nationals who never appeared to face trial, or disappeared before completing a jail sentence; “two accused rapists, a pair of suspected hit-and-run drivers and one man accused of having a trove of child pornography on his computer,” reads the report.
Each of the suspects in Oregon were young men studying at public colleges or universities, and each had assistance from the Saudi Kingdom at the time of their arrest.
In at least four of those cases, the Saudi government paid the defendant’s bail and legal fees. Three surrendered their passports. Some have been tracked back to Saudi Arabia. –Oregon Live
Interactive map created by David Cansler
The disappearances have caught the attention of Oregon Democratic congressmen Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, who have introduced a pair of bills which aim to target foreign consulates that help their citizens escape criminal prosecution in the US.
Oregon Live/The Oregonian has compiled a list of suspects who have escaped justice:
Mohammed Zuraibi Al-Zoabi
Nova Scotia, Canada
Disappeared: December 2018
Mohammed Zuraibi Al-Zoabi was a student at Cape Breton University when he faced numerous charges of sexual assault, assault and forcible confinement of a woman, with the alleged incidents occurring between 2015 and 2017, according to The Chronicle Herald newspaper in Halifax. According to the Star Halifax newspaper, Al-Zoabi last year received $37,500 of his bail from the Saudi Embassy in Ottowa. In early December, a Canadian sheriff tried to find Al-Zoabi, then 28, the newspaper reported, but he was nowhere to be found. His attorney, David Ianetti, told authorities the Saudi man had “fled the country some time ago,” according to court documents. Police had previously seized his passport.
Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah
Multnomah County, Oregon
Disappeared: June 2017
Portland police arrested Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, then 20, in the fatal hit-and-run of Fallon Smart, 15, in August 2016. He faced charges of first-degree manslaughter and felony-hit-and run. After his arrest, the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles retained private defense attorneys Ginger Mooney and David McDonald to work on Noorah’s case and paid his bail, set at $1 million, according to court records and prosecutors. He turned over his passport to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a condition of his release. He was placed under house arrest, required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet on his ankle and allowed to take classes at Portland Community College. Two weeks before his June 2017 trial, Noorah disappeared. Officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Marshals Service now believe he left his Southeast Portland neighborhood in a black SUV, cut his ankle monitor and later used an illicit passport and private plane — likely provided by the Saudi government — to flee the country. In July 2018, more than 13 months after he first disappeared, the Saudis contacted Homeland Security to inform the agency that Noorah was back home.
Sami Suliman Almezaini
Gallatin County, Montana
Disappeared: July 2017
Sami Suliman Almezaini is accused of raping his roommate after the pair returned home from a downtown Bozeman music festival in July 2017, court documents show. After the woman reported the assault, detectives tried to interview him. He agreed to meet them at the police station but did not show up. A Montana State classmate told police he was trying to flee the country with the help of two friends. Detectives believe all three flew from Seattle to Ciudad Juarez Mexico, then Saudi Arabia. Almezaini was formally charged with sexual intercourse without consent in March 2018, when a judge signed a warrant for his arrest. Almezaini had lived in Bozeman for 2 ½ years, according to a Facebook page bearing his name.
Spokane County, Washington
Disappeared: May 2016
Cheney police allege Saud Alabdullatif, an Eastern Washington University student, held a woman against her will and forced her to perform oral sex on him in May 2016. He was jailed on charges of forcible second-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment, court records show. Authorities set his bail at $100,000. Two days after an initial court appearance, Alabdullatif, then 21, posted a $12,000 bond through Ace’s Bail Bonds in Spokane to secure his release from jail, according to court and jail records. He left that same day, boarded a plane in Seattle and eventually returned to Saudi Arabia, Cheney Police Capt. Rick Begthol told The Oregonian/OregonLive. Spokane County authorities issued a warrant for Alabdullatif’s arrest on May 31, 2016, and filed to have his bail forfeited, court records show.
Suliman Ali Algwaiz
Multnomah County, Oregon
Disappeared: October 2016
Suliman Ali Algwaiz entered no-contest pleas to third-degree assault, driving under the influence of intoxicants, and other charges in August 2016. Authorities said the Portland State University accounting major was drunk earlier that year when he struck and critically injured a homeless man while driving the wrong way on a downtown street. Police said he kept driving. His college-age sister, also studying in Portland, deposited $31,260 into his inmate account so he could bail himself out, jail records show. He privately retained Ginger Mooney as his attorney. Algwaiz, then 21, was sentenced to 90 days in jail, which he was allowed to serve on weekends. He never completed his sentence. Records show he recovered his passport from the Portland Police Bureau’s property and evidence division Sept. 20 and last contacted Multnomah County authorities a few weeks later.
Gallatin County, Montana
Disappeared: November 2016
A Gallatin County judge issued an arrest warrant for Faisal Altaleb in January 2017 after a Bozeman police investigation into allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman he met at a bar. Her friends identified him two weeks later in downtown Bozeman and reported him to police, according to court documents. Altaleb told investigators who interviewed him nine days later that he had moved to Bozeman that semester from Portland to enroll in Montana State University. He denied the assault and said the last time he had sex was in Portland, where he said he lived for 1 ½ years. He is believed to have fled to Saudi Arabia soon after the interview, according to prosecutors. A Facebook account registered to his name was active as recently as early February. His precise whereabouts are unkown.
Abdulaziz Hamad Al Duways
Polk County, Oregon
Disappeared: January 2015
In December 2014, Abdulaziz Hamad Al Duways, a Western Oregon University student, was arrested in Monmouth and accused of raping a classmate after giving her marijuana and shots of liquor. The judge ordered the student to turn over his passport to Ginger Mooney, the private defense lawyer hired to represent him, according to court records and the Polk County District Attorney’s Office. A few days later, an official with the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles posted his $500,000 bail. Al Duways, then 25, disappeared. “We had concerns about him returning to Saudi Arabia,” Jayme Kimberly, Polk County chief deputy district attorney, recently told The Oregonian/OregonLive.
Waleed Ali Alharthi
Benton County, Oregon
Disappeared: March 2015
Waleed Ali Alharthi was a student at Oregon State University when sheriff’s deputies say they found his laptop computer filled with child pornography, according to court records and the university. He faced 10 counts of first-degree encouraging child sex abuse. An official with the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles posted Alharthi’s bail, which was $500,000, records show. Alharthi, then 25, was required to turn over his passport to a trial court administrator, according to court documents. He did not show up to a court appearance on April 2, 2015. His lawyer, Ginger Mooney, told the court she feared her client might be dead. Investigators learned from Transportation Security Administration officials that Alharthi had boarded a plane in Mexico City bound for Paris a week earlier. It is unknown when or how Alharthi arrived in Mexico from the U.S.
Utah County, Utah
Disappeared and Captured : April 2015
Monsour Alshammari, a university exchange student sponsored by the Saudi Arabian government, was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in his Orem apartment after the pair went on a date in February 2015. He was charged with first-degree rape and obstruction of justice, according to court documents. The Saudi Consulate posted his $100,000 bail in cash and retained prominent Utah defense attorney Ron Yengich, records show. Authorities in Utah notified the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that Alshammari, then 27, was a flight risk. The Oregonian/OregonLive could not determine whether he was required to turn over his passport as a condition of his release. In April, Alshammari was detained while trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border and was later extradited back to Utah, court records show. He eventually pleaded guilty to first-degree rape and was sentenced to a year in prison. Alshammari never served his term. Instead, he was deported to Saudi Arabia, according to court records.
Disappeared: April 2014
According to Wisconsin court records, Abdullah Almakrami, 28, was charged with sexually assaulting a woman he didn’t know after inviting her into his apartment. The alleged assault took place in March 2014. He was accused of false imprisonment and two counts of second-degree sexual assault. He was ordered to surrender his passport and was placed on pretrial supervision, according to the records, which also show that a criminal defense lawyer named Michael Steinle of Elm Grove, Wisconsin, posted $10,000 bail. The documents show Steinle was privately retained; Steinle did not respond immediately to an email sent Feb. 6. Almakrami failed to make a court appearance the following month and was charged with felony bail jumping. Days earlier, Almakrami also failed to show up at an expulsion hearing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, records show. He told school staff he couldn’t attend because he was out of the country. The court then seized the bail money. A Milwaukee Fox News affiliate reported that Almakrami had fled to his native Saudi Arabia, where later that year he posted updates about the weather and food on social media.
Erie County, Pennsylvania
Disappeared: April 2014
Erie County authorities say Hani Alshammary, 33, assaulted a woman at a party at his home. Alshammary was a student at Gannon University, where he studied political science, according to a local news report. Court records show he was accused of attempted rape, forcible compulsion, unlawful restraint, harassment and disorderly conduct. His bail originally was set at $100,000 but a judge later reduced it to $50,000, records show. A fellow student posted the amount and the suspect flew out of Detroit two days later, according to a local press account. Authorities at the time said they didn’t know his destination, the account said. Alshammary subsequently failed to show up at a preliminary hearing and his arraignment. He is considered a fugitive from justice by the U.S. Marshals Service.
Fahad Al Ghuwainem
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Disappeared: December 2014
Fahad Al Ghuwainem, 28, was one of two men accused of raping a man who one of them met at an Oklahoma City bar in October 2014, according to a local press report. Both suspects, studying in the U.S. on scholarships from the Saudi Arabian government, posted bail. The bail was paid for by a local criminal defense firm called the Jefferson Law Firm, according to court records. One of the men, Naif Albaquami, 30, was convicted of first-degree rape, court records show. Al Ghuwainem failed to appear in court that December, prompting a judge to issue a warrant for his arrest. In March 2015, the $25,000 bond was forfeited to the state. His whereabouts are unknown.
Missoula County, Montana
Disappeared: February 2012
An unnamed University of Montana student from Saudi Arabia was accused of assaulting two women on a single day in February 2012. The campus newspaper, The Montana Kaimin, reported that one woman said the man forced her to drink something that incapacitated her, then raped her. The second woman said she escaped the man after he kissed her without consent. The women separately reported what happened to campus police. A university official contacted the man twice about the allegations, according to The Missoulian. He vanished within days, according to the paper. University leaders drew criticism for failing to tell local police about the allegations, which could have led to his arrest.
Ali Hussain Alhamoud
Lincoln County, Oregon
Disappeared: April 2012
A Toledo Police Department investigation claims Ali Hussain Alhamoud, who was studying at Oregon State University, sexually assaulted a young woman on Valentine’s Day 2012. Federal court records show the Saudi government bailed out Alhamoud, then 18, from the Lincoln County Jail after he was indicted on multiple sex crime charges, including first-degree rape. His bail had been set at $650,000. He boarded a plane in Portland the same day and returned to Saudi Arabia, the FBI said in a criminal complaint. The Oregonian/OregonLive could not determine whether Alhamoud had surrendered his passport as a condition of his release from jail.
Taher Ali Al-Saba
Nova Scotia, Canada
Disappeared: January 2007
Taher Ali Al-Saba was a 19-year-old Saudi national studying English in Halifax when he was charged with sexually assaulting two children in June 2006. Al-Saba disappeared as he was set to go to trial on charges that he sexually assaulted a boy and a girl, both under 14, according to The Chronicle Herald newspaper in Halifax. He was released from jail after his family wired $10,000 from the U.S. to Canada, the newspaper reported in 2007. Al-Saba was ordered to stay in Canada and surrender his passport. According to a Canadian prosecutor at the time, Al-Saba appeared to travel to Ottawa and then left the country. “We confirmed he left the country through the Saudi Arabian Embassy,” prosecutor Catherine Cogswell told The Chronicle Herald. “They refused to co–operate with us in terms of telling us how that happened.”
Snohomish County, Washington
Disappeared: July 1991
Snohomish County prosecutors issued a warrant to arrest Siraj Marakeey on an allegation of first-degree rape in June 1991. During 1989, Marakeey was a 24-year-old foreign exchange student from Saudi Arabia, living with a family in Lynnwood, according to court papers. He was accused of sexually assaulting a girl who was about 10 years old at the time. He allegedly entered her bedroom, fondled her and tried to have sex with her, according to a probable cause affidavit. By July 1990, Marakeey was believed to have been attending college in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, according to the affidavit. “Defendant has evidently left the state of Washington,’’ then-Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Lisa D. Paul wrote in the affidavit. An arrest warrant was sought on June 17, 1991, and signed the next day, with bail set at $10,000. The warrant remains active and seeks Marakeey’s extradition from anywhere in the U.S. There’s no record that Marakeey, now 54, has ever been arrested in the case, according to Rebecca Orr, a spokeswoman for the Snohomish County District Attorney’s Office.
Abdulrahman Ali Al-Plaies
Greene County, Ohio
Disappeared: November 1988
Abdulrahman Ali Al-Plaies, 27, was accused of causing a fiery car crash that killed a 79-year-old woman in the center of Xenia, a small Ohio town, in June 1988. Officials with the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., demanded police release Al-Plaies from jail, claiming the Central State University student was mentally ill and the accident not his fault, records show. The embassy later retained Steven Hurley as his private attorney. Authorities did not seize Al-Plaies’ passport and were told it had been misplaced or lost, according to a letter from the prosecutor’s office. Days before his November trial, a judge inexplicably cut his bail by half, to $25,000, and the Saudi Embassy put up the cash. The young man walked out of jail the same day with a Saudi military officer. He got into a car and was never seen in this country again. “I can only describe this case as justice delayed, if not denied, by a foreign government,” Stephen Wolaver, the attorney assigned to prosecute Al-Plaies, recently told The Oregonian/OregonLive.
Oregonian/OregonLive reporters Maxine Bernstein, Noelle Crombie, Brad Schmidt, Andrew Theen, Molly Young and Fedor Zarkhin contributed to this report.
— Shane Dixon Kavanaugh; 503-294-7632; firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2015, three women claimed that Saudi prince Majed bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud sexually assaulted them and held them captive during “three days of sex-and drug-fueled partying” at a Beverly Hills mansion. After he was bailed out for $300,000, the 28-year-old prince reportedly fled to the Wahhabi kingdom on his private jet.
Los Angeles authorities subsequently dropped the charges, citing lack of evidence.
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