A Wall Street stockbroker fears for her life after she rebuffed a Brooklyn imam she met on a Muslim dating Web site.
In an explosive $50 million lawsuit that blows the lid off the wacky world of Muslim dating in New York, Cherine Allaithy alleges the religious leader promised he would make her one of four future wives and boasted of a cousin in al Qaeda. When she dumped him, he trashed her reputation in the Arab press.
The imam, Tarek Youssoff Hassan Saleh, 42, says Allaithy is a loose, mentally unstable woman. He has filed criminal charges against her in Brooklyn for allegedly destroying two computers at the Oulel-Albab mosque in Bay Ridge. He also claims she threatened to frame him for rape.
Allaithy, 32, says she met the imam, who goes by the name Sheikh Saleh, online at the Muslim Matrimonial Network site in May 2007. They courted for a month.
In June, she claims in court documents, Saleh proposed marriage, telling her she would have to start wearing a veil and be subservient to him.
When Allaithy rejected the sheik's proposal, she alleges, he suggested they have a temporary marriage, or mu'ta, so they could have sex without committing a sin.
Allaithy again declined. In the meantime, she started dating Bessem Elhajj, an engineer also living in Bay Ridge.
Saleh said Allaithy two-timed him with Elhajj. She came to Saleh in August, the imam told The Post, distraught that Elhajj had broken up with her.
Saleh insists he is single and not actively seeking four wives. Allegations contained in the court documents say he used Arab-language newspapers to accuse Elhajj of being a womanizer bent on luring Muslim women into temporary marriages.
Allaithy attempted to reconcile with Elhajj and in August went to the mosque, where Saleh lives, to beg him to stop the newspaper stories. He told her she would be exposed next in the press, according to court papers.
In order to prevent her name from being smeared, she said, she ran into his bedroom, grabbed two laptops, and threw them in the sink.
Saleh responded by beating her up, she claims in court papers.
In another article referenced in the complaint, Saleh alleged she came to the mosque to threaten to have him charged with rape.
According to Allaithy's court claims, the sheik sent her an e-mail describing her as "a trashy and lustful woman, a weeping and cursed Jewish woman."
Dr. Yasser Shalaby, editor in chief of Al Zalzala, an Arabic-language paper, said he also ran an article to protect Saleh. "I felt it was very dangerous for someone to come to the mosque and try to get the leader in trouble," he said.
Allaithy, a former broker with Gun Allen Financial, filed a defamation suit against the imam, his mosque and several Arab newspapers in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Jan. 14.
"This is a dishonor to my entire family, every member. My parents disowned me. Basically, he's ruined my life," she told The Post. "I have to clean my name."
Worst of all, she fears she is now a target for an "honor killing" by al Qaeda, according to court papers. Saleh admitted to The Post that a distant relative is a member of the terrorist organization, but said he has had no communication with him.
Elhajj, the man in the middle, said he has washed his hands of both of them.
"He's crazy," he said of the imam. "He says he's a holy man, but it's just a cover to go after women."
And of Allaithy: "She's a child, she's stupid. She went to him to come after me, but it backfired. He went after her instead."