In November 1989 in St. Louis, the FBI inadvertently tape recorded the entire episode of a teenage girl's being killed by her Palestinian father and Brazilian mother (the Feds were looking for evidence of terrorism, which they also found). In a ghastly eight-minute sequence, Zein Isa stabbed his daughter Palestina thirteen times with a butcher's knife as his wife held the girl down and responded to Palestina's pleas for help with a brutal "Shut up!" The killing ends with Zein screaming "Die! Die quickly! Die quickly! . . . Quiet, little one! Die, my daughter, die!" By this time, she is dead.
Harris, a St. Louis television reporter, has done admirable spade work going through the court transcripts and interviewing everyone connected to the case in an attempt to piece together the interlocking stories of family murder and active support of Abu Nidal's terrorist organization. In addition, she successfully conjures up the small and exceedingly unpleasant world of Zein Isa and his family of rabid anti-Americans living right in the American heartland. The murder culminates their lives of frustration, greed, and vulgarity. Unfortunately, Harris spent more effort digging up information than she did writing the book; so the more-than-casual reader must read and reread its pages to piece together the sequence of events and the scope of the Isa family's involvement with Abu Nidal. Doing so repays the effort, however, for Harris has compiled a treasure trove of materials on two usually elusive subjects.