When Marie Claire told the harrowing story of a father who killed his own daughter in Arizona, readers were outraged. The young woman, a beautiful 20-year-old college student named Noor Almaleki, had refused to marry an Iraqi man back in her father's homeland, leading her father to end her life. This Saturday, CBS News will feature Almaleki's life story on 48 Hours Mystery, with Abigail Pesta, the writer of the award-winning Marie Claire story, discussing the tragedy.
See a preview of the episode here.
As Pesta reported, Almaleki grew up leading a double life in Phoenix. "At school, she was a fun-loving student who made friends easily. She played tennis in a T-shirt emblazoned with the school mascot—a baby demon in a diaper. She liked to watch Heroes and eat at Chipotle. She wore dark jeans, jeweled sandals, and flowy tops from Forever 21," Pesta wrote. "But at home, Noor inhabited a darker world. She lived a life of subservience, often left to care for her six younger siblings. Noor's father, 49-year-old Faleh Almaleki, was strict and domineering, deeming it inappropriate for her to socialize with guys, wear jeans, or post snapshots of herself on MySpace."
Local police characterized the murder as an "honor killing" — the murder of a woman for behaving in a way that "shames" her family. "It's a practice with deep, tenacious roots in the tribal traditions of the Middle East and Asia," Pesta wrote. "The United Nations estimates that 5,000 women die annually from such crimes. Women are stoned, stabbed, and, in the case of a teenage girl in Turkey, tied up and buried alive." But honor killings in America are a chilling new trend. In Texas, teen sisters Amina and Sarah Said were shot dead in 2008, allegedly by their father, because they had boyfriends. That same year in Georgia, 25-year-old Sandeela Kanwal was allegedly strangled by her father for wanting to leave an arranged marriage. A year later in New York, Aasiya Hassan, 37, was beheaded, allegedly by her husband, for reportedly seeking a divorce.
In the case of Noor Almaleki, her father was eventually captured, tried, and jailed. In jailhouse phone calls with his wife, Pesta reported, he defended the murder of his daughter, saying, "I'm not a criminal. I didn't kill someone randomly…For an Iraqi, honor is the most valuable thing."