Starting next month, Saima Mohsin, the first Muslim woman to be a U.S. attorney in Michigan and across the country, will be the new top federal prosecutor in Detroit, according to federal officials and Muslim supporters.
On February 2, Mohsin, 52, will become the acting US attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan after current US attorney for the district, Matthew Schneider, resigned on February 1. Schneider announced his three-year resignation Thursday and said Mohsin, currently the first U.S. assistant attorney for eastern Michigan, will replace him.
Pakistani-born Mohsin has been a federal attorney for decades and has worked in the US attorney’s office since 2002. As a Muslim immigrant of Asian descent, she will put diversity in an important position that is the federal law enforcement agency in the east of the state.
Mohsin served in the United States Attorney’s Office of Violence and Organized Crime, the Drug Task Force and the General Crimes Unit, the Justice Department said in a press release.
“I am extremely excited to leave this office in the hands of one of the best federal prosecutors I have ever known, Saima Mohsin,” said Schneider. “Saima is a dynamic litigator and a talented manager. And as the first woman, immigrant, Muslim attorney in the United States in American history, her ministry is truly historic. Saima will be a preeminent advocate and defender of our community as an Acting United Prosecutor.”
Two leaders of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim advocacy and civil rights group, told the Free Press they knew nothing about a US attorney or an incumbent US attorney who was Muslim. Mohsin is also believed to be the first U.S. attorney to be Pakistani American.
“I don’t think there has ever been a Muslim US attorney,” said Gaider Abbas, a CAIR attorney.
Michigan has a significant number of Muslims as well as a Pakistani-American population with several mosques in the area.
Some Muslims were attorneys who worked for Michigan prosecutors. Michigan’s Attorney General Fadwa Hammoud, appointed by Attorney General Dana Nessel to lead the Flint water investigation, is a Muslim. But there hasn’t been a top federal attorney who is Muslim.
The acting US attorney position is not permanent and judges could later select a US interim attorney. President Joe Biden could then nominate someone to fill the position, which would have to be confirmed by the US Senate. The then President Donald Trump nominated Schneider in 2018 and the US Senate confirmed him in 2019.
Mohsin graduated from Rutgers University in New Jersey with a bachelor’s degree and a law degree.
She became an assistant district attorney in New York City and then worked for the New Jersey State Department of Criminal Justice. She was the Assistant Attorney General for Organized Crime and Extortion.
She has worked for the US Attorney’s Office in Michigan since 2002.
In March 2018, Mohsin assumed the position of the first U.S. assistant attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, an apolitical position, the Justice Department said.
She has “significant experience handling a wide variety of cases,” the Justice Department said.
“It is a great honor to serve the citizens of the Eastern District of Michigan as acting lawyer in the United States,” Mohsin said in a statement. “I am determined to fulfill our core mission of faithfully enforcing the law and seeking justice for all.”
Schneider said in his statement: “It has been an honor of my life to serve the people of eastern Michigan with the incredibly hardworking team of the US Attorney General. Over the past three years, this team has overcome tremendous challenges, from the longest federal government shutdown in American history to a huge surge in violent crime, the biggest spike in civil unrest since 1967, and a global pandemic. … I couldn’t be more proud of the work they did. “
Contact Niraj Warikoo: [email protected] or 313-223-4792. Twitter @nwarikoo