Adnan’s Story: New Excerpt

Adnan's Story

Rabia Chaudry

August 9, 2016

Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial by Rabia Chaudry sheds new light on the case that swept the nation, claiming that the hit podcast only told part of the story.

Serial told only part of the story.

In early 2000, Adnan Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore, Maryland. Syed has maintained his innocence, and Rabia Chaudry, a family friend, has always believed him. By 2013, after almost all appeals had been exhausted, Rabia contacted Sarah Koenig, a producer at This American Life, in hopes of finding a journalist who could shed light on Adnan’s story. In 2014, Koenig’s investigation turned into Serial, a Peabody Award-winning podcast with more than 500 million international listeners.

But Serial did not tell the whole story. In this compelling narrative, Rabia Chaudry presents new key evidence that she maintains dismantles the State’s case: a potential new suspect, forensics indicating Hae was killed and kept somewhere for almost half a day, and documentation withheld by the State that destroys the cell phone evidence—among many other points—and she shows how fans of Serial joined a crowd-sourced investigation into a case riddled with errors and strange twists. Adnan’s Story also shares Adnan’s life in prison and weaves in his personal reflections, including never-before-seen letters. Chaudry, who is committed to exonerating Adnan, makes it clear that justice is yet to be achieved in this much-examined case.


Malik reported: Amir Az-Zubair would stop speaking whenever he heard thunder and he would say, “Glory to Him who said: The thunder exalts His praise as well as the angels from fear of Him,” (Quran 13:13). Then Amir would say, “This is a strong warning to the people of the earth.”

Imam Malik, “Muwatta,” 8th century B.C.E.

When Adnan was convicted, it thundered three times. The day was bright and sunny, but as we sat there clutching our hands while the foreman pronounced the verdicts, it thundered.

February 25, 2000, was a Friday, which was a good sign. Fridays are auspicious for Muslims. It is a blessed day, our day of sermons and congregational prayer, the day we start all new things with a “bism`illah,” invoking the name of God.

I sat with Adnan’s mother, Aunty Shamim, while other members of the community were scattered behind us. Aunty looked straight ahead stoically, a scarf draped over her head, sitting shoulder to shoulder with her oldest son. I prayed silently as the jury was brought in. On the other side of the wooden railing, Adnan stood with his lawyer. Tall and skinny, facial hair coming in sparsely over his pale face, he was barely entering manhood.

The foreman rose.

On the first count, murder in the first degree: guilty. It thundered and we all turned our heads, looking out the courtroom windows at the clear skies, stunned.

On the second count, kidnapping by fraud: guilty. Then it thundered a second time and we again turned our faces, scanning the sunny outdoors, confused.

On the third count, robbery: guilty. It thundered again. This time I only glanced outside, keeping my face turned toward Adnan’s slight figure, paralyzed. By the time the fourth count was read, false imprisonment, I had tuned out, my ears filled with the rush of blood.

Closing arguments had been made only a few hours earlier; we had just begun contemplating where to eat lunch when we were called back to the courthouse. A verdict had been reached. A fast and hard verdict. The weekend loomed ahead after all.

The bailiff approached Adnan and closed cuffs around his wrists and ankles, the same ones he had worn shuffling in and out of court day after day. There were audible gasps and sobs, some escaping me as I rocked back and forth in my seat, repeating “no, no, no…” This was not actually happening. We were told this was not going to happen.

Then Adnan turned to us—his mother, his brother, his friends, his community—and said, “It’s ok. I didn’t do it. Allah knows I didn’t do it.”

*   *   *

Adnan Syed was seventeen when he was arrested for the murder of his former girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999 in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland. He was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years. My younger brother Saad’s best friend, Adnan is like a brother to me, and for seventeen years now my family and I have stood by him as he has maintained his innocence.

I was in law school when Adnan was arrested and still a student when he was convicted. I was never Adnan’s lawyer. But my life has remained tethered to Adnan through an abiding belief that he is innocent.

In 2013, after exhausting almost all appeals, I contacted Sarah Koenig, a producer at This American Life. Her subsequent investigation turned into the podcast Serial, an international phenomenon and the most successful podcast ever produced.

Serial told a riveting who-done-it tale in such a masterful way that some people did not realize it was a true story even after the twelve episodes ended. The story it told was true, but it wasn’t the whole truth, or the whole story.

The success of the podcast was understandable, if not completely expected. This is a story constructed of dozens and dozens of layers, an array of odd characters, malfeasance and misjudgments, and the aligning of all that can go wrong, and must go wrong, to convict an innocent person. But the real allure of Serial was the man at the center of the story, Adnan. Listeners were left wondering, week after week, about who he really was.

Serial presented two options. Adnan was either an innocent, wrongfully convicted young man who had suffered a great travesty of justice. Or he was a cold-blooded psychopathic murderer, driven by either jealousy or brutal religious beliefs, who had managed to manipulate his loved ones into believing his innocence for fifteen years.

This book will tell the stories Serial didn’t and address issues of justice, bigotry, faith, community, devastation, healing, and hope from the point of view of Adnan and those who support him. I am here to tell Adnan’s story as, after so many years of living it and studying it, I see it. But more importantly, to give Adnan his own voice back. Throughout the book, Adnan’s own contributions will do just that.

Copyright © 2016 Rabia Chaudry.


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  1. Gordon Bingham

    Absolutely fascinating…

  2. Victoria De La Rosa

    Is it bad to say I am so sucked in? Cannot wait for this man to be set free.

  3. Mary C


  4. Peter W. Horton Jr.

    Never give up! Yes!

  5. Bridgette Kolesarwilliams

    Wow, looks like a great read.

  6. Laurence Coven

    I can’t imagine having gone through something like that. I’ll certainly know more after reading this man’s experience.

  7. Richard Epstein

    Really looking forward to reading this…would be great to get a signed copy.

  8. John Smith

    I’ve only heard about the series secondhand, so this book would be the ticket!

  9. Deborah Dumm

    Sounds like an excellent book.

  10. Robert Schulz

    riveting stuff

  11. Christal Mormann

    Looks very interesting

  12. Susanne Troop

    Sounds interesting! Love to read.

  13. Susanne Troop

    Sounds interesting! Love to read.

  14. Vernon Luckert

    Looks like it will be a good read!

  15. Laurent Latulippe

    True crime fascinates me. I can’t wait to read this.

  16. Michael Carter

    This looks interesting.
    Yes, please enter me in this sweepstakes.

  17. Rhonda Stefani

    I absolutely love true crime and this book sounds terrific with in depth details never heard before. I’d love to read it!

  18. Kimberly Gutherz

    Yes. I am interested in this book.

  19. Robin Weatherington

    [b]Way to perservere![/b]

  20. Lynda Murray

    I listened to Serial and Undiclosed podcasts and admire all the work done by Ms. Claudette on behalf of Adnan. Would love an autographed book. Hopefully a new trial will Right the wrongs done in the first trial.

  21. L

    Very interesting to read the discrepencies that Adnan points out in his letter. I imagine the opportunity to fully tell his side of the story would give Adnan some peace. Hopefully, if he is innocent, this book will help in his quest for justice.

  22. Karen Mikusak

    Would love to win!

  23. Janice

    Very interesting case. I hope all turns out OK. Would love to winthe book and read about the whole case.

  24. Daniel Morrell

    sounds like a good one

  25. Karl Stenger

    I would love to read the book.

  26. Doris Calvert

    I want to read this book and lookat the case and inside his mind.

  27. Bill Cook

    Serial covered this case so well. Looking forward to seeing how his retrial goes.

  28. susan beamon

    I have read many true crime books. I do find them interesting. This one would go in my to be read pile if I win it.

  29. bill norris

    sounds like a must read after the podcast

  30. David Siegel

    Can’t wait.

  31. Suzanne Williams

    The Serial podcast was gripping, would love to read the book!

  32. Veronica Sandberg

    want to win….love to read it

  33. Susan Mahaffey

    A fascinating story — would love o win a copy!

  34. Robby Champion

    I was glued to Serial and shocked at the resolution. I am glad Rabia stuck with this and the case is reopened.Would enjoy the book.

  35. Desmond Warzel

    Count me in, please!

  36. MARY Mclain

    I would like to read this book.

  37. Mary Ann Woods

    Sounds like a fascinating sory!

  38. Sally Schmidt

    Fascinating, thanks for the chance to win.

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  40. Marisa Young

    I would like to read this book.

  41. Lisa Ahlstedt

    I’ve been following the case and would love to win! Rabia is really amazing for bringing this story to public attention and getting Adnan a new trial!

  42. Amy Curtiss

    I am still pondering Serial, of course, and reading that letter reminded me of Adnan’s voice on the phone during all those podcasts, he just sounds like such a NICE guy! I think I already have this on hold for when my public library gets a copy, so I will read it regardless of if I win a copy or not, I am a bit of a true crime addict, and fortunately have never had to deal with the justice system personally. I feel for Adnan and his family, I thought a lot about my sons during this podcast and what would I have done if they had been accused of something so horrible.

  43. vicki wurgler

    it sounds very interesting

  44. Carol Kubala

    After listening to Serial it will be interesting to hear what is happening with this case.

  45. Saundra K. Warren

    Very interesting!

  46. Willa Morrison

    As a black woman, mother and grandmother in America I am always aware of the potential to be misjudged and wrongfully convicted on the basis of that misjudgment. I would like to read Anan’s story in its entirety so that I can make the black community more acutely aware that wrongful convictions are not just happening to our people and in our communities, so that we can develop a positive dialogue and commitments to eradicate this evil from every socio economic and ethnic community that this has become rampant and an almost every day occurrence in.

  47. Jeffrey Raiffe

    Sounds like a great book to read.

  48. Kimberly Dull

    I find this story fascinating and would love to learn more about it.

  49. Susan Smith-Goddard

    I listened to Serial right from the beginning, and Adnan’s story still resonates with me… I can’t wait to read this book.

  50. helen johnson

    A sad and painful miscarriage of justice. I wish all the best for Adnan.

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  52. Michaelann Dahlman

    This sounds fascinating, I can’t wait to get it!

  53. Joy Venters

    Innocence does not always mean exoneration. There is an old saying – If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, nothing is impossible to you

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