September 5th, 2008
05:33 PM ET

A Pop star slaying that shook the Middle East

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/meast/09/05/singer.slain.tamim.suzanne.ap/art.suzanne.tamim.afp.gi.jpg caption="Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim was found slain in her apartment in Dubai in July."]

Octavia Nasr | BIO
CNN senior editor for Arab affairs

A slaying shook the Middle East in late July when 30-year-old Suzanne Tamim, a Lebanese rising pop star, was brutally stabbed several times and her throat slit in her luxurious Dubai apartment.

Shortly after the murder, a former Egyptian state security officer by the name of Mohsen el-Sukkary was arrested and charged with her murder. This week, Hisham Talaat Mustafa, an Egyptian real estate mogul with close ties to Egypt's government elite was also arrested. Both men deny the charges despite evidence that police say ties them to the crime.

Egypt's public prosecutor, Gen. Abdul Meguid Mahmoud, says Mustafa "took part through incitement, agreement and assistance with the first defendant in killing the victim in revenge."

Revenge, Arab media outlets report, for a failed love affair with the Lebanese Diva.

The Middle East is not strange to soap opera-like dramas linking powerful politicians or businessmen to popular figures in the entertainment industry. But this drama proved different for many reasons.

  1. The graphic details of the murder were made public from the onset -surprising in a region where investigations are kept quiet.
  2. Dubai, described as the oasis of openness and freedom in an ultra conservative Middle East region, had just launched a campaign against corruption and faced an embarrassment if it didn't follow up on the findings of its investigation.
  3. And the Egyptian government, frequently criticized for protecting corruption and covering up for well connected powerful figures, facing public cries for justice.

To top all that, the alleged killer released taped conversations he said were between him and the Egyptian tycoon who hired him. The independent Egyptian newspaper Al-Masri Al-Yom, released the following text from those conversations.

Mustafa: Have you carried out the mission?

Sukkary: I had no chance and the place of the mission was changed to Dubai.

Mustafa: It would be difficult there.

Sukkary: Don't worry, it is my business.

Mustafa: Why did you delay the mission?

Sukkary: She is a famous singer and she is surrounded by many people.

Mustafa: Please put an end to this story.

The newspaper, Al-Masri Al-Yom, reports that Mustafa denies that the voice on the tape is his. El-Sukkary says after this conversation was recorded he quit and did not commit the murder.

Now, while Arab fans on line mourn the tragic loss of Suzanne Tamim, an Arab world is absorbing the drama of not just the murder, but more so, the shock of Dubai police disclosure and Egyptian search for justice this murder has brought about.

Filed under: Global 360° • Octavia Nasr
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Franko

    Beheaded by Koran Laws, US needling death ? His last request ?

    September 7, 2008 at 1:51 am |
  2. Whitney

    What about these honor killings.
    Seems that it is a new trend from the old-past.

    September 6, 2008 at 3:41 pm |
  3. Melissa Noble

    Late 70's two high class call girls (Madame Claude circle) from Paris were hired by an Arab prince to meet in Yemen. They ended up murdered. You can research the papers.
    I know this because of a close personal friend of one of the girls. One of the murdered was also the daughter of a Russian diplomat.

    September 6, 2008 at 9:41 am |
  4. Camina T. in Arroyo Grande CA

    I am very sad for this babe. An open society is nothing to take for granted here in the USA. RIP

    September 6, 2008 at 1:24 am |
  5. Marc

    Well he went overboard, Do you see what love will do?? It happened in Dubai aand it could happened anywhere. He should be punished, but we all know Law is with the wealthy, Filthy and rich.

    September 6, 2008 at 12:41 am |
  6. Wanda

    This is an absolute outrage. While at this stage there's no clear sense of what the outcome will be, it's certainly a a profound step in the right direction that authorities are going after these scum.

    September 5, 2008 at 8:46 pm |
  7. JC-Los Angeles

    A woman on the payroll of some low-brow, Middle Easterner with cash; sounds a lot like LA.

    September 5, 2008 at 8:12 pm |
  8. Melissa, Los Angeles

    I'm glad Dubai is going after this business man. Sounds like a lot of these wealthy businessmen get away with a lot because of their money. Hope this man pays for taking a life – even though he didn't physically kill her.

    September 5, 2008 at 7:27 pm |