A woman was arrested after she was accused of kidnapping a woman because her “lifestyle brought shame to the Muslim community and she should return to Libya,” according to court documents.
Normal Juarez Taha, who is described as a “Mexican-Muslim” in court documents, was arrested at about 9:25 p.m. Tuesday by 12 FBI El Paso Division agents without incident at her home in the 200 block of Thunderbird Drive in West El Paso. She is accused of kidnapping the woman, referred to only as AFA in court documents, from the woman’s home earlier in the week.
Taha, 35, is facing one count of kidnapping, which holds a maximum sentence of life in prison. She made her initial appearance in federal court Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Miguel A. Torres.
No bond was granted for Taha at the hearing due to a government motion claiming that bond should be denied because Taha has “strong ties to Mexico” and “presents a high risk of fleeing to avoid prosecution on this charge.”
A detention hearing for Taha is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday during which Torres could decide whether to grant her bond.
The FBI El Paso Division led the investigation with assistance from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Border Patrol. More than 40 FBI employees were involved in the case, including agents from all of its area criminal squads, intelligence analysts, the evidence response team and personnel in Mexico, FBI officials said.
“The residents of El Paso should rest assured that the FBI will promptly and aggressively respond anytime we receive a kidnapping allegation as we continue to do our part to make El Paso a safer place to live,” Douglas Lindquist, special agent in charge of the FBI El Paso Division, said in a statement.
Taha allegedly kidnapped the woman, whose age has not been released, at about 3 a.m. Monday from her bedroom.
The woman told investigators she knew Taha as “Sister Norma” because she was a family friend.
Taha allegedly entered the woman’s bedroom while she was sleeping and attempted to put tape on her mouth, a criminal complaint states. The woman yelled, but no one in the home heard her.
She was told by Taha to be quiet and that she needed to go with her because she and her family were in danger, the complaint states. Taha told her that she was trying to help her and that she eventually would be reunited with her family.
Taha said that the danger facing the woman and her family was that they were going to be deported and that the woman’s brother would not get the medical assistance he needs, the complaint states.
Taha then walked the woman, who was not wearing shoes, out of the house through the front door and put her in the rear cargo area of a Toyota van, the complaint alleges.
At some point, she was moved to the front of the van and was told to hide underneath the glove compartment area. She was then blindfolded and taken to an area on Montana Avenue in far East El Paso.
The woman told investigators that she was scared for her life because Taha was carrying a black-and-red pistol and that she feared that if she attempted to run away, Taha would shoot her, the complaint states.
The woman asked Taha why she had a gun, to which Taha replied, “for protection,” the complaint states.
The two then met with another woman at a trailer.
Taha then allegedly told the alleged victim that the other woman, who is not named in court documents, was an FBI agent and was going to help her and her family, the complaint states.
The women offered the alleged victim a drink, but she refused because she was scared it had drugs or poison in it, records show.
The woman was then taken to a truck and Taha allegedly used a syringe to inject an unknown substance into her lower leg, the complaint states.
After being injected, she said she “immediately felt sleepy, nauseous” and then vomited inside the truck, the complaint states.
The other woman took the alleged victim in her truck as Taha followed them in her van, the complaint states.
She was then taken to Juárez and left at a home with people who knew the two women, the complaint states.
The women then left after telling her that they would return for her.
One of the people in the house allowed the woman to call her boyfriend. She was then left alone in the home, but did not flee because “she was very physically weak and tired” due to the injection, the complaint states.
The following day after midnight, two people in the home took her to the Stanton Street Port of Entry, where a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official recognized her and reported the incident to the FBI.
She was then taken to an El Paso hospital to receive medical treatment.
During an interview with FBI agents, Taha originally claimed that the woman had asked her to do her a favor and take her to Mexico, records show.
Taha later allegedly admitted that she had gone to the woman’s home and made up the story that she and her family were in danger to trick her into coming with her, the complaint states.
She added that the woman’s “lifestyle brought embarrassment to her family and she should be taken to Mexico or Libya.”
Taha allegedly said she did not receive any money for kidnapping her, the complaint states.
She also admitted to mixing muscle relaxant pills and water together in a syringe and injecting the mixture into the victim’s leg to keep her calm, the complaint says.
No information has been released on whether the other people allegedly involved in the kidnapping also will face charges.
Aaron Martinez may be reached at 546-6249; firstname.lastname@example.org; @AMartinez31 on Twitter.