Adnan Syed: The Menacing Manipulator

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Photo of typical podcast listening platform (From The Guardian)

After you hear the podcast “Serial”, the first things that come to mind when you hear the name Adnan Syed are: star-athlete, great friend and family member, valued part of society, and wrongfully accused of murder.

Sarah Koenig does an excellent job of convincing her listeners of his kind and compassionate character, dropping hints all over “Serial” to convince her listeners. But what Sarah is either ignoring, or failing to realize, is his true character beneath all of the seemingly attractive qualities.

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Adnan Syed’s Mug Shot (From Observer)

You see, the whole reason Sarah started “Serial”, was due to the possibility that Adnan Syed was innocent. I mean, why would a well-liked, smart and friendly guy like Syed murder his girlfriend in cold blood?

When someone like this has everything going for him, but then is sent to jail on accusation of murdering an ex-girlfriend, it is no surprise that everyone thinks he must be innocent.

But perhaps that is what Adnan wants you to think.

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Photo of Adnan from High School (From NBC News)

Adnan must have loved everything he had going for him: he was good-looking, had top marks, popular, star athlete, valedictorian, and the list goes on, so when something happens that is far from the way he wants it to happen, why would he be able to move on like nothing ever happened? The truth of the matter is; he wouldn’t.

It is quite possible that if Hae hadn’t dumped Adnan, and left him feeling like a “loser” as Dale puts it in episode 12 of “Serial”, things would have turned out quite differently for Adnan and Hae Min Lee. But Hae did dump Adnan, and Adnan had never felt what it is like when something he loves is taken away from him.

Not only was Adnan angry at Hae for dummping him, but he was furious at her for embarrassing his ego. Jay, one of Adnan’s friends from high school remembers Adnan saying: “I’m gonna kill that b****” (Farberov 1). Adnan refuses ever saying something of that sort, and instead tells Sarah Koenig that he was over her.

So is Adnan’s opinion reliable?

Not at all.

Adnan had been recorded lying on multiple accounts, many of which were not included in “Serial”.

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Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee (From Crime Feed)

One of these accounts brings a chilling perspective to Adnan’s ego. Adnan is recorded telling a nurse that Hae had told him that she still loved him, the same day she was murdered. When in reality, this never could have happened. Hae writes in her journal multiple times that she was trying to fins a way to break-up with Adnan without hurting him. Adnan made-up a lie about a girl everyone already knew was dead, that she still loved him. And Hae did not love Adnan, she had moved on to a new boyfriend, leaving Adnan feeling alone and embarrassed. For Adnan to lie about Hae still loving him, even if he killed her or not, shows a hint of a psychopathic tendency to keep his ego inflated.

A second account of Adnan lying is when he was recorded asking Hae for a ride the day of her murder, but Adnan denies ever talking to Hae the day she was killed. This was witnessed by two separate witnesses and confirmed by Adnan to a police officer the same day. (Reddit 2)

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Adnan at a campsite (From Screen Rant

So, as you can see, Adnan is far from a trustable source, and was obviously trying to hide something by lying about all these situations.

On top of all the lies, Adnan has not always remained the innocent boy that he usually was at school. One of his art teachers remembers his poetry to be very dark and disturbing, almost evil when he thinks back (Berman 2).

Hae Min Lee’s diary contains descriptions of Adnan as a controlling and egotistic individual, and records him responding to the breakup in a very menacing way.

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Photo of Adnan at his house (From ABC News)

Although it would feel better to believe Adnan is the innocent boy “Serial” makes him out to be, coming to a conclusion on his guilt or his innocence is not based on feeling. The truth about Adnan is that those same psychopathic tendencies that allowed him to lie to the nurse on the day of Hae Min Lee’s murder, also enables him to continue to act innocent, despite being sentenced to a lifetime in prison.

Adnan not only lied about a girl that was dead, but showed very little emotion in response to being locked away in prison. After he was sentenced to life in jail, if he was innocent, he would have lost his mind, freaking out over being wrongfully sentenced to a lifetime in an federal prison. But he didn’t freak out. He remained very calm, and acted as if he knew this was going to happen his whole life. This emotionless behavior can be noted in Adnan’s interviews with Sarah Koenig. Adnan never once starts to tear up, get angry, or show any kind of emotion, keeping a steady, calm voice about the entire situation.

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Adnan Syed in Prison (From The Daily Dot)
This is the kind of emotionless behavior that makes you wonder if Adnan really did have what it takes to kill Hae.


If Adnan did not murder Hae, then he was simply a very unlucky person. On the final episode of season 1 of “Serial”, one of the podcast’s producers explains that “there is too much evidence against him. If he is not guilty, then he is just a very unlucky person” (Serial).

One thing that finalizes my opinion on Adnan’s innocence or guilt is that he claims no memory of the day. Adnan was accused of murder that day, it was one of the biggest if not the biggest moment of his life, and he says he remembers almost nothing. I mean, even Sarah Koenig starts the entire podcast by saying, “if something important happens on a certain day, you are not only going to remember that event, but the entire day surrounding it” (Serial) (Paraphrase). Being arrested for murder is no doubt a memorable day, and if Adnan denies any recollection of that day, he is most definitely lying.

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Photo of Adnan Syed in Interview with “Serial” (From Mirror)

Adnan had everything going for him, he had it all. Unfortunately, Adnan was too used to having it all, and lost control when he couldn’t have something for the first time in his life: Hae Min Lee. It is this single distressing break-up that started everything, and changed the city of Baltimore, and the lives of everyone who knew Adnan forever.

It is through Adnan’s lying psychopathic behavior that I am forced to conclude; Adnan Syed is guilty of the murder of Hae Min Lee.




Works Cited

Chaudry, Rabia. “Adnan Syed Is Innocent. Now Find Hae Min Lee’s Real Killer | Rabia Chaudry.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 06 July 2016. Web. 28 July 2017.

Farberov, Snejana. “Jay From Serial Podcast.” Daily Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 16 May 2016. Web. 28 July 2017.

Koenig, Sarah. “Episode 12: What We Know.” This American Life. Serial.

“Top Ten Reasons Adnan Syed Is Guilty of Murder Beyond a Reasonable Doubt In This World But Innocent in the Intergalactic Multiverse • R/serialpodcast.” Reddit. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2017.







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