PEORIA, Ariz. - Police arrested six members of a Phoenix-area family they say targeted a 20-year-old relative and tried to kidnap her because they disapprove of her boyfriend, who doesn’t share their Muslim faith.
The woman, who is 20 weeks pregnant, told police she was afraid her relatives will kill her because they believe she has brought dishonor to the family, detectives wrote in a probable cause statement filed in Maricopa County Superior Court following the arrests on Thursday. Police believe the family wanted to send the victim back to Iraq, authorities wrote.
In court records, detectives describe accusations of threats and assaults, most recently at a medical building in Avondale last week. Police said the relatives took the woman’s cell phone and purse, along with her boyfriend’s gun, during a "violent assault." The woman grabbed onto a responding officer, pleading "please, don’t let them take me," according to court records.
In a statement released on Aug. 27, police identified the suspects as:
- Ali Alfartousi, 33
- Bashir Alfartousi, 36
- Fares Alfartousi, 63
- Souad Alfartousi, 59
- Yaser Alfartousi, 35
- Zahraa Alfartousi, 31
Of the suspects, court documents identified Fares as the victim's father, Souad as the victim's mother, Ali, Bashir and Yaser as the victim's brothers, and Zahraa as the victim's sister. The suspects are described as traditional Muslims.
The victim was not identified.
Court documents detail various incidents
According to investigators, Peoria Police officials responded to a home that belongs to the victim's boyfriend's mother on March 14, 2021.
Investigators say in between 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on that day, the victim's brothers came to the house, but no one answered the door. In addition, the victim's boyfriend's mother shouted through a window that they needed to leave, or he will call police. The brothers later left, but at around 2:40 p.m., Zahraa went to the house. The victim's boyfriend's mother yelled for her to leave, but Zahraa became upset, and knocked over several potted plants.
Investigators learned following interviews that the victim's family had a history of harassment against the victim because of her relationship with a boyfriend, who is described as being of another religious faith. The victim's family told investigators that they believed her boyfriend was holding her against her will.
Kidnapping attempts were allegedly made
Court documents stated that 10 days following the March 14 incident, Yuma Police officers were called to a hotel in the city for a disturbance involving a gun.
The victim, according to court documents, said her family tried to kill her and her boyfriend in Phoenix, which led to them to move to Yuma in an effort to get away from her family.
At the hotel, court documents say the victim and her boyfriend spotted the victim's family, and before the victim could run, Bashir grabbed her in a bear hug.
"[The victim's boyfriend] got his gun, pointed towards Bashir, and told Bashir to let her go," read a portion of the documents.
Bashir later let go of the victim, according to investigators.
According to Peoria Police officials, Bashir was arrested by Yuma Police for an alleged kidnapping attempt. However, court documents stated that charges were not filed with the Yuma County Attorney's Office.
"According to the Yuma Police report, she stated that her brother had successfully kidnapped her and had planned to bring her back to her family where she would have likely been killed," read a portion of the statement.
Threatening message was left on boyfriend's phone, according to investigators
On May 3, court documents stated that the victim's boyfriend received a threatening voicemail from Ali.
In the voicemail, which was received by the victim's boyfriend on April 29, Ali allegedly threatened to kidnap the boyfriend's 15-year-old sister of the victim was not returned to her family.
"This is Ali, her brother. If you don't bring my sister back, I'm going to kidnap your sister. I'm not scared of your American laws," the message stated, according to court documents.
Police: Victim assaulted outside doctor's office
Peoria Police officials, in their statement on Aug. 27, accused five of the family members of trying to kidnap the victim at a parking lot in Avondale, as she arrived at a doctor's appointment.
"Ali, Yaser, Zahraa, Souad and Fares pulled the victim into a vehicle and began punching her in the stomach. Two witnesses in the parking lot came to the aid of the victim allowing her to escape," read a portion of the statement.
Court documents: Victim felt "she will die"
Investigators stated in court documents that during an interview with the victim, the victim said she has 'dishonored the family,' and feels she will die.
"[The victim] also made mention she feels she will end up like ‘Noor,'" read a portion of the documents, referencing a so-called ‘honor killing’ murder investigation in Peoria.
According to reports by the BBC in 2011, Faleh Hassan Almaleki, who was 50 at the time, was convicted of running over 20-year-old Noor Almaleki and another person, in what prosecutors called an ‘honor killing.' Almaleki was sentenced to over 30 years in jail.
Suspects accused of multiple offenses
According to court documents, Zahraa told investigators that the victim's boyfriend was a ‘bad person,' and that she disapproved of the victim's relationship with her boyfriend.
Both Fares and Souad, according to investigators, said they did not feel their actions were criminal in nature during their respective police interviews.
Ali, according to court documents, said he would still find the victim even of he was in prison, and the victim was 80 years old.
"Ali repeatedly said [the victim] was ‘blood’ and that it did not matter if [the victim] no longer wanted contact," court documents stated.
Peoria Police officials all six suspects are accused of various offenses:
- Ali: Kidnapping (Domestic Violence), Aggravated Robbery, Threats
- Bashir: Kidnapping (Domestic Violence)
- Fares: Kidnapping (Domestic Violence), Aggravated Robbery, Disorderly Conduct
- Souad: Kidnapping (Domestic Violence), Aggravated Robbery
- Yaser: Kidnapping (Domestic Violence), Aggravated Robbery, Disorderly Conduct (Domestic Violence)
- Zahraa: Kidnapping (Domestic Violence), Aggravated Robbery, Threats, Disorderly Conduct
The family, according to court documents, has ties to Iraq, and planned to send the victim back to the Middle Eastern country.
Meanwhile, anyone with information should leave an anonymous tip by calling Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS. Spanish speakers can leave an anonymous tip by calling Testigo Silencioso at 480-TESTIGO.
Si tiene alguna información sobre este caso, llame a la línea de Testigo Silencioso (480-TESTIGO, 480-837-8446).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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