On the early morning of January 5, 30-year-old Syrian national Mohammed Al Moussa entered Lebanese pop star Nancy Ajram’s Beirut home, in what appears to have been an attempted burglary.
Ajram and her husband, celebrity dentist Fadi Al Hashem, have given their account of that night in a new documentary.
The ordeal, partially recorded on the home’s extensive security camera network, ended with Al Hashem shooting dead Al Moussa, who was later revealed to be carrying a fake gun.
Al Moussa had 16 gunshot wounds in his body.
The new documentary on MBC's Shahid online platform Al Rou'ya Al Kamila (The Full Picture) saw the couple sit down for an interview about the night Al Moussa died.
Various theories have been shared across many platforms about what happened that night.
It has been suggested by some that the security camera footage was doctored by Al Hashem and that Al Moussa was in fact a family employee demanding an outstanding payment. This is denied in the documentary.
Ajram and Al Hashem say their reason for speaking now was partly to stem some of the commentary surrounding the event. However, Al Hashem speaking on TV now is notable due to his uncertain legal status.
After initially being cleared of the crime, he was subsequently charged by public prosecutor, Judge Ghada Aoun, for intentional murder. With Al Hashem’s trial presently postponed due to the pandemic, the documentary has faced criticism on social media for being an attempt to persuade public opinion before the beginning of legal proceedings.
While Al Rou'ya Al Kamila does indeed offer more from Ajram and Al Hashem's side of the story, it is a riveting 90 minutes of television. But it works best when it transcends the nuts and bolts of what happened to focus on on bigger themes, such as the sanctity of the home, or 'bayt' in Arab society.
Here are three of the key takeaways from Al Rou'ya Al Kamila:
1. How they say the night unfolded
It is important to note that a lot of the revelations presented haven't been scrutinised in a court of law, but in the show Al Hashem reenacts certain scenes in the house in a frankly terrifying retelling of what happened between the evening of Saturday, January 4 and the early hours the following day.
The couple says the night began with Al Hashem’s brother and his family joining them for a low-key dinner from around 7.30pm. With cameras on but the alarm system off, Al Moussa seems to have managed to scale the walls of the mountaintop villa in the Keserwan district of Beirut, and he spent time on the veranda until the visitors left.
The couple say they hadn't employed any security guards at the residence, the veracity of which has been raised repeatedly in regional press coverage. “I never felt that I needed protection,” Ajram says of this. “And I didn’t want my children to feel that way too. I want to make their environment as normal as I can.”
Al Hashem adds: “We knew everyone in the neighbourhood, so we didn’t feel like we needed security,” he said. “But I do have a strong alarm system for the home.”
Just shy of 2am on January 5, with the family asleep indoors, Ajram says she heard rustling inside the house and immediately informed Al Hashem.
He said he was initially not concerned, citing Ajram’s career for her heightened awareness: “Even the faintest sound registers with Nancy,” he says.
However, after they both heard sounds coming from the living room, Al Hashem gets up and investigates. At exactly 2am, the security camera sees Al Hashem startled by a man in a balaclava rummaging in his living room.
Al Hashem grabs a chair while Al Moussa shows he has a gun.
Hearing the shouting outside, Ajram says she ran to the en-suite, locked the door and proceeded to call her father, who lives around 250 metres away. She said she also called the villa’s janitor and the family chauffeur, who all reside within ear shot of the home. Her children remained in their bedrooms.
The chauffeur arrived within minutes, charging in with his brother and two friends. By that time Al Moussa was reportedly in the master bedroom, with Al Hashem demanding to know where more jewellery was, and where Ajram was (she remained hidden in the bathroom).
Al Moussa reportedly then ran to the living room to confront the janitor, the chauffeur and friends. Al Hashem says he then ran to the wardrobe to retrieve his Glock-17 automatic pistol, and chased Al Moussa.
He said he then saw Al Moussa heading towards the hallway where the bedrooms of their three daughters are. Al Hashem said he then saw red.
“I just couldn’t see anything after that,” he says softly. “At that moment, when he was coming for my daughters, I was prepared to die.”
The security camera catches Al Hashem disappearing into the corridor behind Al Moussa and seconds later bright flashes of gun fire puncture the darkness.
Al Hashem says the final confrontation lasted a few seconds and was in a smaller living room adjacent to one of the children’s bedrooms.
“When I heard the gun shots, I thought….I didn’t know what to think,” Ajram says. “I thought that Fadi was dead.”
A few minutes after the shooting, the security cameras catch a distraught Ajram sprinting to the corridor in pyjamas. She describes finding a dazed Al Hashem standing close to Al Moussa, who lay sprawled on the ground, blood oozing out of his chest.
By 2.30am, the house was a crime scene full of police officers. Not long after, Al Hashem was taken into custody for nearly two days, after which he was sent to hospital with concerns for his mental wellbeing.
2. We find out more about Mohammed Al Moussa
It is important to note that the home invasion portion of the documentary is told solely through the eyes of Ajram and Al Hashem.
According to the programme, Al Moussa’s wife, Fatima, who has publicly questioned the veracity of the security camera footage, refused to be interviewed “on and off screen”.
The only information we hear about her late husband comes through a Skype call with his grieving parents in Syria.
Both describe Al Moussa as a hard working and "God fearing individual", who fled Syria to Lebanon after marrying his cousin Fatima.
“When I heard the news, I was shocked,” said his father Hassan. “I can’t imagine him doing anything of that nature.”
As for the suggestion that Al Moussa was a disgruntled domestic employee of the Ajram and Al Hashem household, his parents say they were not aware that he worked for them.
This is in contradiction to what Al Moussa's mother said to Saudi TV station Al Arabiya on January 7. At that time she said her son used to work as a gardener for Ajram and was owed an unspecified amount of money by the couple. At the time, she questioned the surveillance footage of the killing and asked authorities to pursue the case to ascertain the full story.
Al Hashem is emphatic when asked about this claim: he says he never heard of Al Moussa until that fateful day.
The programme claims Al Moussa had been planning the burglary for up to six months. The show says his smart phone revealed extensive Google and YouTube searches on the location and architecture of the property, and the layout of Nancy Ajram’s bedroom. Al Moussa even reportedly made an appointment to attend Al Hashem’s dental practice months prior to the burglary and didn’t show up.
3. Nancy Ajram is seeking counselling
Al Rou'ya Al Kamila portrays a situation from which no one emerges unscathed.
Al Moussa’s parents have lost a son in terrible circumstances. While Al Hashem says during the show he is at peace with his actions, he says he struggles with frequent bouts of anxiety.
Ajram, meanwhile describes sudden crying fits triggered by suspicious noises at home, a growing sense of dread when day turns to night, and having a psychologist on speed dial for dealing with the anxiety of her children.
That anguish, she states, has been further compounded by social media criticising her for releasing a new music video weeks after the event.
“I sometimes read what is said online and it is painful,” she said. “I actually shot the video a long time before all this happened… just because I am moving forward it doesn’t mean that I forgot what happened. This will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
More details are sure to unfold when Al Hashem's legal case restarts.
Al Rou'ya Al Kamila is now streaming on Shahid VIP. For more details go to www.shahid.net