US Federal agents arrested a second doctor and his wife Friday for their roles in female genital mutilation. Dr. Fakhruddin Attar is accused of letting Dr. Jumana Nagarwala perform mutilations at his Burhani Medical Clinic on Farmington Road. His wife, office manager Farida Attar, also was arrested and is accused of helping Nagarwala perform the mutilations, according to a 14-page complaint unsealed Friday in a US federal court.
The arrests are the latest development in the nation’s first female genital mutilation case, which is providing insight into a small, insular Muslim community in Metro Detroit and an illegal procedure performed on young girls.
Earlier this year, Nagarwala allegedly mutilated two 7-year-old girls from Minnesota. The complaint also describes a conspiracy involving at least Nagarwala, Attar and his wife — all three are members of the Dawoodi Bohra religious community based locally out of a Farmington Hills mosque.
Attar, 52, and his 50-year-old wife were arraigned in federal court Friday afternoon and ordered jailed until a detention hearing Wednesday. Both were dressed in the distinctive attire of Dawoodi Bohra members — he wore a white cap with gold trim, while his wife wore a long teal dress and head covering with pink fringe.
“Dr. Attar is not aware of any crimes committed at his clinic,” defense lawyer Mary Chartier told reporters outside court. “This is frightening for them and terrifying.”
She criticized the government for waiting until Friday to arrest the doctor. She said:
“It’s classic gamesmanship by the government, knowing they would spend the weekend in custody,” she said. “I’m not surprised the government would pull that stunt.”
Gina Balaya, the U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman, said prosecutors were prepared to hold a detention hearing Friday, during which U.S. Magistrate Judge David Grand could have decided whether to release the couple on bond. “As reflected in open court, it was at the request of the defense that the hearing be set for Wednesday,” Balaya said.
The couple was arrested around 9:30 a.m. Friday at Burhani Medical Clinic and federal agents were spotted inside. An eyewitness, Kate McCarty said she watched Attar’s arrest Friday after he arrived in the parking lot and is shaken by allegations of mutilations that allegedly happened next door to her office.
“What do you think? It’s disgusting,” McCarty said. “I mean, it’s terrible.”
The arrests come 11 days after agents raided the clinic amid an investigation triggered by the two Minnesota girls who were brought to Metro Detroit in February and subjected to female genital mutilation. Attar and his wife were charged with conspiracy to commit female genital mutilation and aiding and abetting female genital mutilation.
Nagarwala, meanwhile, was charged in federal court April 12 and is being held without bond on charges that could send her to federal prison for life.