When American troops invaded Iraq in 2003, they captured the attention and dedication of Yasir Jabbar Jasim, an 11-year-old boy from Ramadi. He spent the next four years helping them and improving his English until, in 2007, he was good enough to work as a translator for the U.S. Marine Corps.
The Marines treated Jasim like one of their own. He took a bullet for them, betrayed and ultimately abandoned his home country for them. When he came to the United States in 2011 — on the heels of a first sergeant’s promise to adopt him — Jasim put himself on the track to become one of them.
His story came out as he talked to police during a video-recorded interview when he became a suspect in a brutal Colorado Springs sexual assault case that derailed his ambitions.
On July 24, as a Colorado Springs police detective questioned Jasim about his role in the assault, Jasim recalled his eight years spent trailing American troops through the deserts of Iraq, according to video recordings shown in court during Jasim’s trial on Friday. In the video, he lifted his shirt and showed Detective Jedidiah Abrams a bullet scar on his right shoulder. He loves the United States and would do anything for it, he told Abrams.
“So, don’t ever think that I lie,” he concluded in the video.
In a nearly two-hour long interview with Abrams, Jasim fed the detective a mixture of truth and falsehood. He stuck to his story doggedly, even after the detective called him out, bluntly confronted him with jarring detail, and warned him that lying is a crime, according to video footage shown in court.
Prosecutors allege that Jasim and four other Iraqis concocted an amended version of the night of July 22, when they say a woman was violently sexually assaulted in the presence of Jasim and then left for dead, bleeding profusely from life-threatening wounds.
Jasim and his former roommates, Ali Al Juboori, Mustafa Al Feraji, and Sarmad “Levi” Mohammed, were all charged in connection with the assault. On July 21 and into the early morning hours of July 22, the group of friends, all Iraqi immigrants, had been drinking at a club, Al Juboori testified in court on Thursday. They got involved in a fight at their apartment complex, at 2561 Gold Rush Drive, where some of them befriended a woman and invited her back to their apartment, Al Juboori said. There, Jasim, Al Feraji and Mohammed allegedly watched and did not intervene as another Iraqi acquaintance, Jasim “Jay” Ramadon, allegedly brutally penetrated the woman with his fist, and later disappeared with her, Jasim later told police on a second video played for the jury.
Al Juboori did not witness the assault but cleaned up blood and later lied to police about it. He pleaded guilty on Monday to false reporting, and will testify in the cases against his roommates and Ramadon. In January, Al Feraji and Mohammed waived their rights to a speedy trial, and are set to appear in court again later this month and in March, an attorney in the case said.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Theresa M. Cisneros put Ramadon’s case on hold Tuesday, after she declared that some evidence against him was obtained illegally by Colorado Springs police. Ramadon’s trial will resume after the Colorado Supreme Court considers Cisneros’ decision.
Meanwhile, Jasim, 21, wearing a neat suit and red and white tie, sat through three days of graphic testimony from paramedics, nurses, doctors and detectives who treated or talked to the woman after she was assaulted. He listened to it all with the help of Arabic translators.
Testimony has also revealed aspects of the backgrounds of some of the accused men. Like Jasim, Al Juboori and Ramadon were teenagers during the American invasion of Iraq; they become interpreters, and in some cases, like family to soldiers they worked with. Ramadon was taken under the wing of Army 1st Sgt. Daniel Hendrex , who wrote a memoir about their time in Iraq together.
When he arrived in America, Jasim lived with another sergeant and his family on his North Dakota farm ; Al Juboori said in court Thursday that a colonel helped him obtain a visa to the United States . If they are deported, both Jasim and Al Juboori have said that returning to Iraq would be a death sentence .
Prosecutors concluded their case against Jasim on Friday; the defense will present its case when the trial resumes Tuesday.
Contact Ryan Maye Handy: 636-0261