EVERETT — Dubai. Sweden. The Netherlands.
Hussein S. Ali, 32, has been on the other side of the globe since March 2018, when he didn’t show up to his sentencing in Snohomish County Superior Court for two counts of first-degree child molestation. That day, a judge put out a $2.5 million arrest warrant for the south Everett man.
It took 3½ years, but after a final ruling by the Hague earlier this month, Ali must return.
“It’s quite the web,” deputy prosecutor Justin Harleman said.
Ali grew up near Damascus, Syria, in a camp for Palestinian refugees. In 2010, he left Syria for the United States. He studied electrical engineering, got married and worked for aerospace companies. He served as an advocate for Syrian refugees.
The abuse began when the girl was 9. Ali was in his early 20s. It lasted almost two years, according to court documents. At one point, Ali told her not to report him, he wrote in court documents.
She eventually told a school counselor, who then notified police.
He agreed to a bench trial, leaving it to a judge to decide his guilt based on a review of investigative records. Ali later admitted to the abuse in a two-page letter to a judge dated Feb. 26, 2018.
“There are no words in my English vocabulary that can compensate for or erase my terrible mistakes in the past,” Ali wrote.
Superior Court Judge Joseph Wilson was set to sentence him and formally issue his findings March 15, 2018.
Prosecutors and state corrections officials asked for Ali to be sentenced to more than seven years in prison. His defense attorney pushed for two years of confinement and treatment.
“I must accept the outcomes of this case regardless of the situation, and I must do everything to prevent this from happening again,” Ali wrote. “I have promised myself to comply with whatever the court orders to the best of my ability.”
He did not comply.
Ali’s attorney, Brad Meryhew, declined to comment on the case’s recent developments.
Investigators believe Ali first fled from the United States to Dubai, said Courtney O’Keefe, a spokesperson for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. Detectives later learned he was living in Sweden because one of Ali’s relatives identified him in a Facebook photo there, Harleman said. From there, he went to the Netherlands, where he was arrested.
American authorities requested Ali be extradited in July 2019. The District Court of The Hague approved the extradition two months later to send Ali back here, but the south Everett man filed multiple appeals, drawing out the legal saga. He claimed his human rights could be violated in a Washington prison. In an October 2020 decision, Dutch officials disagreed.
Ali claimed he could be at risk of contracting COVID-19 in a Washington jail or prison. Dutch officials disagreed. He claimed he could face life imprisonment, another violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Dutch officials disagreed again, noting the chance of Ali getting a life sentence were “vrijwel nihil.” Virtually nil.
Ali’s last appeal in the Netherlands was denied Nov. 2, Harleman said.
The exact timeline for his return was unclear Tuesday. U.S. Marshals will handle the transportation, then the sheriff’s office will take custody once he is back stateside.