|Stranger Than Fact
By Judith Weizner
FrontPageMagazine.com | March 29, 2004
Call it a case of sic transit gloria mundi.
Just last fall, Glory Mundy, a 63-year-old retired schoolteacher, was given the keys to the city for having thwarted a terrorist attack on the First National City Bank of Oakland. This morning she was found guilty of violating the city's stringent hate crime law.
A year ago, Mrs. Mundy, returning from a trip to her local butcher, watched as a man of Middle-Eastern appearance left a knapsack inside the ATM area of a busy bank. When he started to walk away she ran after him, calling out that he had left his bag behind. But then he took a cell phone out of his pocket and Mrs. Mundy realized that he was about to detonate a bomb, so she did the only thing she could think of: She threw a pork chop at him, yelling, "No virgins for you, Buster! This is pork." The man was so taken aback that he dropped the cell phone, which she picked up and used to call the police, all the while pinning him against the wall by menacing him with another pork chop.
When the police came they found a knapsack full of explosives and a detonator, along with a cellular phone. A search of the man's apartment turned up a large quantity of explosives, seventeen detonators and a carton of cell phones. In addition, police confiscated his computer.
The man, Ali al-Shahid, a 26-year-old undocumented immigrant from Syria, was arrested and charged with attempting to blow up a bank, attempted terrorism, illegal possession of explosives and possession of stolen property. He was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to six months in jail without possibility of parole.
Mr. al-Shahid apparently made good use of the state's hospitality, however, earning a law degree in record time. (This remarkable feat was the inspiration for the made-for-television movie "Sleepless in Solitary.") Immediately upon his release, Mr. al-Shahid asked the DA to charge Mrs. Mundy with discrimination on the basis of ethnic appearance, public statements tending to denigrate religious beliefs and culturally antithetical use of foodstuffs with blatant disregard for human misery. Mrs. Mundy was arrested and charged under Section 8 of the "California Hates Hate" hate crimes statute.
At the trial Mr. al-Shahid told the jury what went through his mind when she ran after him. Testifying with readily apparent emotion, he told the court, "It was bad enough that she might cause me to be noticed, but I didn't think she could cause me to fail." He told of his horror upon realizing that he had almost been hit by a pork chop and of his terror during the time she had him pinned against the wall. He said that since the incident he has been unable to sleep and suffers the recurrent waking dream of being refused entry into Paradise by a colossal boar. He also experiences drenching sweats requiring the use of deodorant. He conceded that he was grateful she had warned him about the pork because it had made it possible for him to avoid coming into contact with it, but said the whole experience had left him completely unnerved and unable to carry out jihad.
Mrs. Mundy testified that ever since 9-11 she had become much more aware of her surroundings and had made it a point to watch for suspicious activity. She admitted that after her husband told her she was becoming paranoid she had begun to wonder if she should seek professional help and, in fact, had made an appointment for a psychological evaluation on the very evening of the thwarted bombing, but as a result of the incident she had felt relieved to know she was not paranoid and had cancelled the appointment.
During the course of her cross-examination Mrs. Mundy admitted that it had been the combination of the abandoned knapsack and Mr. al-Shahid's appearance that had prompted her to think he might be up to no good. She acknowledged that if Mr. al-Shahid had been tall and blonde she probably would not have run after him, but might simply have called the police from the corner pay phone. Under no circumstances, she conceded, would she have thrown a pork chop at him.
It took the jury only 45 minutes to determine Mrs. Mundy's guilt on all charges. Sentenced to 28 years in prison, she remains free on $4 million bail pending appeal.
Mrs. Mundy acknowledges her gratitude to Mr. al-Shahid for having confirmed her belief in her own sanity, and says she hopes someday he will forgive her.
"Forgive her? This stupid person who is nothing but a woman has ruined my afterlife," Mr. al-Shahid told reporters on the courthouse steps. "And why? Because I am Muslim. For no other reason. If I were not Muslim her stupid pork trick would not have caused me to fail. Now I must find another path to Paradise."
According to unconfirmed reports, Mr. al-Shahid is preparing to sue Mrs. Mundy for damages to compensate his family in Syria for the payment they would have received had he successfu