US State Department policy named after Fallon Smart

Flowers across 43rd Avenue at a memorial ride for Fallon Smart on August 26th, 2016. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

When Portland high school student Fallon Smart was hit and killed by a speeding driver while walking across Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard at 43rd Avenue in August 2016 it hit our community hard. I still remember sitting on the curb at her memorial ride, surrounded by hundreds of people — including her family and friends — and just crying. I felt a mix of sadness, regret (for not doing more to prevent it), and anger at a system that contributed to such a tragic loss.

Those feelings turned into activism as our community pressured the City of Portland to improve the safety of the crossing — on a stretch of Hawthorne that had well-known hazards. Then about one year after Smart was killed, we learned that the man whose reckless speeding was the cause of her death, Abdulrahman Noorah, was still on the run. Then, another gut-punch: In December 2018 The Oregonian reported that the government of Saudi Arabia helped Noorah break free of his court-ordered ankle tracker and helped him escape U.S. custody.

There would be only partial justice for Fallon Smart’s family in April 2020 when the City of Portland paid $395,000 to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by her family. But as for Noorah, he was safely ensconced in Saudi Arabia and will likely never face the full consequence of his actions.

But hopefully this travesty of justice is never repeated. At least that’s the goal of a new federal policy that went into effect this week — nearly seven years after that sad day on Hawthorne.

For years, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden stayed on the case against Saudi Arabia for their role in this crime and pushed for action. This week he can claim major progress as a suite of new visa rules known as the “Fallon Smart Policy” go into effect.

“The Department of State is committed to deterring and promoting accountability for extraordinary foreign government involvement in aiding fugitives to evade the U.S. justice system,” said Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in a statement Wednesday. “I am announcing a new policy of visa restrictions on foreign government officials and agents who have intervened in a manner beyond the reasonable provision of consular services to assist fugitives accused or convicted of serious crimes to evade the U.S. justice system.”

And yesterday, Senator Wyden shared via Twitter that, “The loss of Fallon Smart to her family and loved ones in Portland can never be erased, but this new policy establishes genuine accountability for any foreign official who assists fugitives fleeing U.S. justice.”

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Dave
Dave
11 months ago

Bravo Wyden; he seems to be one of few politicians with a spine that doesn’t flex in favor of the Saudis.

Chris I
Chris I
11 months ago

And let’s remember that he could not have fled without the help of Giner Mooney, a lawyer who is still practicing in Oregon. She has represented multiple Saudi clients who then fled the country. I guess it’s a good business.

https://stephanievolin.medium.com/ginger-mooney-the-saudi-passport-35b539e47b6c

Fred
Fred
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

That’s Ginger Mooney. Let’s all make sure we remember her name.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago

Noorah is gone, and will never will never set foot in the US (or anywhere that could extradite to the US) again. He poses no further threat. As someone morally opposed to retributive justice, I am satisfied.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“Noorah” is an anglicized version of his name, one of many possibilities, of a name that is originally written in Arabic, in an alphabet utterly alien to us. I am 100% confident he has a new passport, maybe even with his original name, with various visa documents that have let him (already) visit various so-called close allies such as France, UK, Italy, and so on, all with extradition treaties with us, all with a well-established and open reluctance to extradite anyone to any country or state that still carries out executions such as the USA, including other OECD countries. Keep in mind, the USA has a less-than-stellar record on extraditing it’s own citizens to other OECD countries too, even for minor charges. On top of that, Saudi Arabia is a very rich and powerful country that any arms exporter would be very reluctant to offend. And yes, as long as he’s alive and behind a driving wheel, he’s still a threat, including to Americans who happen to be overseas.

But you need not worry about retributive justice – even in the USA killing pedestrians with your car is largely legal, as long as you make the usual noises of “she came out of nowhere!” and show signs of remorse and offer to pay a big fine or bribe.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Noorah does not face execution in the US; France extraditing a Saudi national is not at all comparable to the US extraditing a US national; the notion that we need to imprison Noorah here to avoid him killing an American working in Saudi in a traffic accident is fantastical; your final paragraph is contradicted by the facts in this case.

You usually hit the mark with your comments, but this one missed them all.

Dwk
Dwk
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

You know for a certainty he poses no threat? What a weird take, he may have already run over others in some other country for all you know.
He showed zero remorse at the time.
A total ahole that got away with it.
Is there any subject you won’t both sides or excuse?
Mind boggling….

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Dwk

Yes, I feel very confident that he poses less threat to Americans than any other young Saudi man who, unlike Noorah, is free to visit, study, and live in the US. Noorah was not some singularly dangerous driver; his behavior reflects the driving culture of his society. Ask anyone who has lived there.

I do not excuse his behavior; I just note that our problem with him is solved, permanently. “Got away with it” is moralizing language. Your hunger for retribution is understandable, but it serves no practical purpose.

dwk
dwk
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

There should be no retribution for Driving 60mph and hitting and killing a person in a crosswalk?
Got away with it is the Fact. Not moralizing all. He killed a young person with his reckless behavior and I will judge him all I want.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  dwk

“There should be no retribution…”

A lot of Americans disagree with me (and apparently you are among them), but I don’t think we should be punishing people for the purposes of exacting revenge.

I’m not asking you not to judge him, or even to agree with me.

dw
dw
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Okay, I’m understand your aversion to simply punishing people. I’m a big fan of restorative justice myself. But in this situation, there’s no justice of any kind. The problem isn’t “solved”. You’re morally opposed to people murdering others, right???

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  dw

I have no such aversion. I believe prison is an effective mechanism for separating people from those who they might victimize. I also see great value in deterring others from misbehaving in the future.

In this particular case, the offender has been permanently removed from our society, so the protection goal has been met, and I don’t believe a prison sentence would effectively deter other potentially dangerous drivers.

I totally see why you think that “there has been no justice”, and I don’t disagree, but for me crime and punishment is primarily a practical issue, not a moral one.

I feel far more confident that Noorah will not be a problem for us again than I would for a typical drunk driver who served a couple of years in prison, then was released right here in Portland.

And yes, of course I am morally opposed to people murdering other people.

dwk
dwk
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

He is not permanently removed from killing people, apparently your moral values end with American lives.
He behaved like a sociopath when he was arrested, if he is free to kill humans in other countries that fits your moral values?

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  dwk

The Saudi government knows exactly what Noorah did, and they have every tool at their disposal to protect their citizens as they see fit. It is not Oregon’s job to do that for them.

Pete
Pete
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

What an incredibly naive statement. This situation just confirmed to young affluent and well-connected Saudi men that they conduct themselves however they want when they live internationally and get away with it. Quite possibly, Noorah’s threat to American lives has been diminished but that says nothing of the bigger picture. Your ‘moral objection’ in this case, propagates a dangerous arrangement.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Pete

Do you really think Noorah would have served a long sentence in Oregon prison before being transferred to “finish his term” in Saudi Arabia, free to return later?

dwk
dwk
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Yes. What is wrong with you?
He would have served 5 years at least.
Just stop.