Chapter 13 - April 4, 2003 AM - Episode 3Listen to podcast
A: I have an appointment I must leave for in ninety minutes.
Q: You have the right to leave at any time. This interview can be resumed, under subpoena if necessary. Let’s go on. What countries did you travel to the most during your employment by your father, your uncle and Mr. Qalid?
A: My most frequent trips were to the occupied territories. Of course, that meant that I had to transit Israel as well. I also visited Russia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar frequently.
Q: What were your duties at the firm?
A: I bought and sold objects of art.
Q: Were these countries you visited places where you bought art or sold art? Which are which?
A: In Iraq I bought art. Sometimes I bought art in Russia as well. In Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar I usually sold art but sometimes bought some.
Q: When you bought art in Iraq, was this a violation of the UN embargo or the United States Trading with the Enemy Act?
A: We were advised that it was not.
Q: By whom?
A: By our attorneys.
Q: Okay. We won’t go into your attorneys’ advice. But we may come back to this whole subject later. You didn’t mention the “occupied territories”.
A: I did. I said this was the place I went most frequently. Except for Israel, of course.
Q: You didn’t say anything about buying or selling there.
A: I did not buy or sell there.
Q: Then why did you go there? I thought that’s what you did for the firm, buy and sell.
A: I met with people in the occupied territories who had connections that enabled us to buy and sell in other places.
Q: Did you visit Mr. Qalid there? If so, was this before or after he became a partner in the firm?
A: I did meet with Mr. Qalid in the occupied territories. I did meet with him there both before and after he became a member of the firm.
Q: Is Mr. Qalid a person with connections?
A: He is.
Q: Why did you leave the family firm in 1999?
A: I had an opportunity to enter another business which uses my knowledge of computer science.
Q: You didn’t use your computer science knowledge at Qali, Qali, and Qalid?
A: I designed the company website. I was the contact when the firm needed to have computer work done. I ordered the personal computers and arranged for Internet access. These tasks, however, were incidental to my main responsibilities and did not require much knowledge of computer science.
Q: Did you join a dotcom in 1999?
A: I did not.
Q: What company did you join?
A: I became the United States representative for a group of programmers located in Jenin. They are known as the Jenin Cooperative Development Institute.
Q: How did you become acquainted with this group?
A: I was introduced to them by Muhammad Qalid.
Q: Was that before or after he joined the firm?
A: It was after.
Q: Was he trying to get you out of the firm? Were you rivals for succession in the firm?
A: Mr. Qalid and I are not rivals; he is my benefactor.
Q: Why did he want you out of the firm? In what sense is he your benefactor?
A: I do not believe he wanted me out of the firm. He is my benefactor because he introduced me to this position which uses my skills in computer sciences and enables me to help the Palestinian people.
Q: Were your father and uncle okay with your leaving the firm?
A: They agreed with what I was planning to do. My father, like many fathers, would like to have a son in the business; but he also believes in what I am doing now.
Q: Is your brother in the business?
A: He is not.
Q: Why not?
A: He lives in the occupied territories.
Q: So does Mr. Qalid.
Q: So why can Mr. Qalid live in the occupied territories and work for the firm and not your brother? Especially if your father wants a son in the business?
A: My brother has other interests.
Q: What are your brother’s other interests?
A: They are not relevant to our discussion.
Q: Why don’t you tell me what they are and I will decide whether or not they are relevant?
A: I know they are not relevant. I do not wish to discuss them.
Q: Why not?
A: I do not wish to discuss that, either.
Q: Okay. I’ll assume your brother is into something that you don’t want me to know about, possibly some violation of US law. We’ll come back to that later. What are your duties as representative of this cooperative?
A: I sell the services of the cooperative in the United States and I coordinate the work that the cooperative does for firms in the United States. I also assure that the cooperative is properly paid and that remittances are properly forwarded to them in Jenin.
Q: What are these services?
A: Software and website development.
Q: Who are the customers?
A: Firms that need software or websites developed.
Q: I could have guessed that.
A: Then why did you ask me?
Q: I would like to know ... forget that. How did you find customers? This is very different from the business that you were in before. I don’t imagine that the same people buy software development who buy art.
A: You are incorrect.
Q: Enlighten me.
A: I just did.
Q: Right. I mean, please explain to me how you turned customers for Islamic art into customers for software development.
A: Our customers in the United States are Palestinians and, to a lesser extent, other Arabic people. These people who buy art are wealthy; they are usually business people. Business people need software developed for their companies; they need websites. In 1999 companies without websites were suddenly at a disadvantage.
Q: Why didn’t they just outsource to India like everybody else?
A: It is difficult to outsource, particularly for a small company that does not have its own technical staff. Moreover, these people would naturally prefer to have their work done by Palestinians rather than by Indians.
Q: Why would they “naturally” prefer that?
A: They know how difficult things are for the Palestinian people in the occupied territories. They know that people can no longer travel freely or go to jobs in Israel. They know that there is little hope and much despair. And they want to help.
Q: So you went to your old customers and said: “Guess what, instead of selling you art today, I’m here selling software development and website design. If you buy from me, you will also be helping the Palestinian people.” Is that what you did?
A: That is very close to what I did. Not in those words, of course.
Q: And why did they trust you to know what you were doing? Why did they trust these Palestinian programmers?
A: They trust me because they know me. They trust me for the same reason they trusted me when I was selling art to them. In many cases our families know each other from Beirut or from Palestine. And why shouldn’t they trust Palestinian programmers? Why should they trust Indian programmers?
Q: Has this business been a success?
A: It has provided employment for the programmers in Jenin.
Q: Is it a success for you? Are you making more money than you made at your family firm? Do you want to be an agent for the cooperative for the rest of your life?
A: I obtain satisfaction from this work. I am able to support myself by it. I am hoping that the cooperative will grow. I am hoping that peace, if it should ever come, will allow the cooperative to grow and allow my role with it to grow as well.
Q: You didn’t answer whether you are making more money than you did with the family business.
A: I am not.
Q: Are you making less?
Q: Is that why you need a roommate? To help with the rent?
A: I had a roommate when I worked at the family firm.
Q: That’s right; you did. Do you have any financial troubles as a consequence of making less money?
A: I do not.
Q: Has you making less money been a source of friction between you and Ms. Roth?
A: It has not.
Q: Have you ever been unable to pay your share of the rent?
Q: You do understand that I will have an interview with Ms. Roth as well?
A: I do.
Q: Okay. It’ll be interesting to know if she sees things the same way. Did you have any customers for the cooperative’s services who were not part of the Arabic community in the United States?
Q: Who are some of these non-Arabic customers? How did you meet them? Why did they buy from you?
A: There is only one non-Arabic customer at this time. That customer is hackoff.com.
Q: Okay. Who at hackoff made the decision to buy from you? How did you meet them? Why did they decide to buy from you?
A: Mr. Larry Lazard was the person at hackoff.com who decided that they would outsource to the cooperative. I met him through my ... through Miss Roth. I believe he bought from us because we represented a good value to his company. He also was concerned about helping the Palestinian people.
Q: Well, that saves some time. I was about to ask when you first met the deceased. When was that?
A: I first met Mr. Lazard in the Spring of the year 2000.
Q: Where did you meet him?
A: At an airport. He and Miss Roth flew back from the roadshow for the secondary offering together on a private plane. I picked her up at an airport in New Jersey and it is there that I met Mr. Larry Lazard.
Q: Were they having an affair then?
A: I have no way to know that.
Q: Would you have cared if they were?
A: Mr. Lazard’s wife, Louise Lazard, was also at the airport.
Q: I didn’t ask you that. Up until now you have been following your uncle’s advice and only answering the questions I ask. Why did you suddenly volunteer that information?
A: I thought you were about to ask me that.
Q: I think you didn’t want to answer my question about how you would have felt if you knew then that the deceased and Ms. Roth were having an affair.
A: It is a very hypothetical question. I cannot answer it.
Q: Were you and Ms. Roth having sexual relations then?
A: At the airport? Certainly not.
Q: Sometimes you seem to understand what a sexual relationship is and sometimes you don’t. Did you and Ms. Roth still have a sexual relationship at the time you picked her up at the airport?
A: I have not said that she and I ever had a sexual relationship.
Q: Why did you pick Ms. Roth up at the airport? Surely she could have arranged for a car service.
A: I wanted to meet Mr. Larry Lazard.
Q: To see if he had a sexual relationship with Ms. Roth?
A: No. I wanted to talk to him about using the services of the cooperative.
Q: Why did you think he would be interested in those services? Why were you selling to him at all since you seem to have concentrated on Arabic customers?
A: He had made inquiries.
Q: Inquiries of whom? When? Of Ms. Roth?
A: As I understand, he made inquiries when he was in Switzerland at some sort of conference.
Q: Who told you that?
A: Muhammad Qalid.
Q: How would he know?
A: Mohammed Qalid has many connections. Often he has given me before what you would call a “lead”.
Q: What I call a “lead” is something that helps me solve a murder. Is that what you are giving me?
A: I was told that Mr. Larry Lazard has committed suicide.
Q: It is my job to determine who killed him. Do you have any idea who may have wanted to do that?
A: I do not.
Q: Would you have had any reason to kill the deceased?
A: I would not.
Q: What about the fact that he was screwing your girl friend?
A: I had no reason to kill Mr. Larry Lazard. I did not kill him.
Q: What kind of business relationship did you have with the deceased?
A: He was our customer.
Q: Was he a good customer? Did he buy a lot? Did he pay for what he bought?
A: hackoff was buying more and more from us. Sometimes, as with many customers, there were disputes over payments.
Q: You mean the deceased didn’t want to pay your bill?
A: There were sometimes disagreements over how much was owed.
Q: Why would that be in dispute?
A: Our arrangement with hackoff requires them to pay us only on the completion of certain items. Sometimes Mr. Dom Montain would not agree that certain items were complete even though they were.
Q: Then what would you do?
A: I would discuss these items with Mr. Larry Lazard.
Q: Then what happened?
A: Usually Mr. Lazard would decide that the items were indeed complete and would authorize Mrs. Donna Langhorne to pay us.
Q: And if he didn’t think they were complete?
A: Sometimes there would be minor things we would do as a courtesy so that Mr. Lazard would agree that we had finished.
Q: Why would Mr. Montain say that your work was not complete if it was?
A: I do not believe that Mr. Montain wanted work to be given to us. It is common for the manager responsible for software development to want to keep it in-house even when it makes clear economic sense to outsource.
Q: And the deceased did understand that “it makes clear economic sense” to outsource?
Q: Do you think that Dom Montain might have killed the deceased in a dispute over outsourcing?
A: I don’t know.
Q: A few minutes go I asked you if you knew anyone who might have killed the deceased and you said “no”. Now you’re implying that Mr. Montain might have killed him. Why did you change your mind?
A: Why do you say that? I have not changed my mind. I don’t know who might have had a reason to kill Larry Lazard. I simply did not think about it. It said in the New York Times that he committed suicide.
Q: Now that you ARE thinking about it, can you think of anyone who might have wanted to kill the deceased?
A: I cannot.
Q: Mr. Montain?
A: I don’t know.
Q: Ms. Roth? Did she feel that the deceased had misused her in any way?
A: I don’t know.
Q: Ms. Langhorne?
A: I don’t know.
Q: The deceased’s wife, Mrs. Lazard — you’ve met her. Could she have killed him?
A: I don’t know.
Q: Did you have reason to kill him?
A: I did not kill him.
Q: That’s not what I asked you. I asked if you had reason to kill him. He was sleeping with your girl friend.
A: I did not kill him.
Q: I am noting that you did not answer my question. At the time of the deceased’s death, did hackoff owe you money?
A: hackoff.com owes money to the cooperative. It is normal for there to be bills outstanding.