Terror Along Family Lines

Shopping For Protection

Rosine Ghawji, Shopping For Protection

According to an affadavit by Rosine Ghawji, she was first contacted by the FBI in 1991 while she was living in New York with her husband, Maher Ghawji. The couple owned two apartments: one they lived in and one they first rented to diplomats from France—Rosine's native country—and then, later, to diplomats from Syria—her husband's native country. One day, there was a knock on the door. The FBI agents standing outside wanted to know if she knew anything about the person who was living in the couple's other apartment. She said no, and they told her the tenant was on a list "to hurt this country." The FBI agents asked: Did she know the relationship between her husband and the tenant? She didn't. The agents gave her a card and left. Rosine says she told her husband—now a prominent Memphis endocrinologist—about the incident and says he brushed it off as nothing.

But roughly 15 years later, after the couple and their children had moved to a beautiful brick home in Southwind, she came to believe that something was very wrong. In 2004, Judge Donna Fields granted Rosine Ghawji an emergency restraining order against her husband. Rosine believed her husband wanted to take the couple's sons to Syria and enlist the two teenagers in the Syrian army—or worse.

Thus began a divorce case that has garnered interest nationwide from right-wing blogs and conservative radio programs. It has led to a federal court case against a local judge and a complaint against that same judge with the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary. And it has patients of the Memphis endocrinologist wondering if their doctor could be a terrorist sympathizer.

Before she married Maher Ghawji, Rosine Collin worked with a wine importer in New York. She met the young physician in France, when her mother was one of his patients. Though she was Catholic and he was Muslim, the two fell in love and later married in a New York mosque.

A well-dressed woman in her mid-50s, Rosine comes off as intelligent and sophisticated and her story slightly practiced. According to an affidavit she filed in Circuit Court, she first learned the word "jihad" in 1993, a year after the family moved to Memphis. Maher's younger brother, Haitham, lived in Canada at the time and wrote Maher a letter in Arabic. It was a letter that would come to haunt Rosine for the next 10 years.

"You need to keep the Quran and look forward to the jihad! I want you to swear, this issue of upbringing the kids, (your kids now) whoever will raise them will do so with the law of the Quran, unlike the mother. I would like to know what are your thoughts about the Muslim way of holy war? You should be honest with yourself," reads the translation from Rosine Ghawji's sworn affidavit.

The letter from Haitham goes on to say that Maher has made a mistake marrying a Christian woman and invites him to join the ranks of Muslim soldiers in Afghanistan.

Read it all here.

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