#UPDATE: Suspect Charged, Bail Denied in Execution-Style Murder of NY Imam and Assistant
This isn’t getting much press, or at least it wasn’t until last night/today and it doesn’t look like any page has been created for it, so I guess I’ll do it.
Imagine the outrage & wall-to-wall news coverage if this had been a priest/pastor & his assistant who’d just left their church or a rabbi & assistant who’d just left their synagogue. But Muslims? Meh—”they” (collectively) are always killing people so… *shrug*
Yeah, I’m kind of annoyed. The location of the shooting is about 10 blocks from where I used to live in Queens. Like much of New York it’s a very diverse area, but everyone gets along for the most part. Emphasis in excerpts is mine.
An imam and his assistant were shot dead as they walked along a street in the New York borough of Queens.
The men were approached from behind by a man who shot them both in the head, a police spokesman said. […]
Some mosque-goers said they believed it was a hate crime but police said there was as yet no evidence that the men were targeted because of their faith.
A man holding a gun was seen leaving the scene of the shooting in the Ozone Park area, but no-one has been arrested.
Police said the suspect had a “medium complexion”. They released a sketch on Sunday. […]
You know what else irks me? The police saying there’s no indication the men were targeted because of their religion. They were executed in broad daylight and the imam was carrying over $1,000, which was not taken. Guess the motive wasn’t likely robbery, huh? Why not simply say the motive remains unknown?
The police said it appeared that Mr. Akonjee and Mr. Uddin were targeted but did not immediately release a motive for the shooting. They were wearing religious garb, and Mr. Akonjee was carrying more than $1,000, the police said. The money was not taken. […]
The police said that they were investigating what led to the shooting, saying they did not know whether it was related to a botched robbery, a dispute or anything tied to their religion or race. “There’s nothing in the preliminary investigation that would indicate that they were targeted by their faith,” said Henry Sautner, a deputy inspector in the New York Police Department.
A law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the active investigation, said that the crime did not fit any existing pattern and cautioned that the motive was still wide open. “What it does seem is that it was planned, to some extent,” the official said. “It looks more like a targeted shooting than anything else.” […]
Oh, and before the usual suspects begin their inevitable attempts to slime the imam & his community, according to police there is no history of problems at that mosque:
The imam was “a very sweet, soft-spoken, humble man,” said Chowdhury, 40. “He’s a role model as an imam, as a father, as a community member. He didn’t have any disputes with anybody.”
A police source said there were no reports of any problems going back several years at the mosque. […]
You know what really worries me? That this could be a new Da’esh-inspired tactic aimed at alienating American Muslims. After all, they’ve demonstrated over & over that Muslims are their favorite targets in terms of people they’re willing to kill. As an added bonus for Oompa Loompa supporters and other right-wing nut jobs, it would also send the slime factories into overdrive making false flag claims & inventing conspiracy theories.
More background info on the murdered imam from the New York Times: ‘Our Community Lost Its Heart’: Queens Imam Is Recalled as Peacemaker
According to the New York Daily News, police think the shooter was experienced with guns. I’m not sure why they think this would be personal or related to the money being carried as the killer didn’t appear to say or demand anything before shooting, nor did he stick around to try to take the cash—he just snuck up on them murdered them in cold blood, and quickly walked away. There’s (grainy) video of the shooting at the link.
According to the New York Post, the shooter jumped into a waiting car after gunning the men down.
Last but not least, a ray of light: Jewish, Christian and Muslim interfaith groups in Central New Jersey condemned the shooting and offered their condolences Sunday
Here’s what I want to know: If the murders had nothing to do with religion, then WHY are police & sources identifying only ONE group of people involved in the alleged feud by their religion? Why not describe them as “Bangladeshis and Hispanics” or “South Asians and Hispanics”—why keep referring to “Muslims” if religion has nothing to do with it??
The killer who crept up behind an imam and his friend near a Queens mosque and shot both men in the head may have been settling a score in a feud between Muslims and Hispanics, police sources said early Monday. […]
But the killer may have gotten sloppy in his haste after pulling the trigger and hit a bicyclist with his car, sources said.
The cyclist took down the car’s license plate number and gave it to police, who began tracking down their man.
Members of an NYPD Regional Fugitive Task Force were conducting what turned out to be a “brief surveillance” of the suspect in Queens when he rammed an unmarked cop car, sources said. That’s when officers nabbed him.
Investigators were questioning him early Monday and were waiting for a warrant to check his home.
Sources pointed to an ongoing feud between Muslims and Hispanics in the neighborhood, saying the shooting may have been payback after a group of Muslims allegedly attacked some Hispanics a few weeks earlier.[…]
Oh, and kudos to the cyclist (yay, ww!) for writing down the license plate number.
Addendum: I meant to also add kudos to Jewish activists who visited the mosque Sunday night in a show of solidarity, despite one Muslim activist having griped that Mayor De Blasio hadn’t yet visited the mosque, asserting that if the same had happened in the Jewish community he would’ve been there right away.
The Muslim activist may or may not be correct, but regardless that sort of comment walks right up to the edge of being antisemitic (because he singled out Jews instead of saying, “If this was a Jewish or Christian community ” or whatever). It was big of the Jewish activists to show up in support nonetheless. I hope Mr. Kukon took note of that. From the same article as above:
But Khairul Islam Kukon, a community activist and a member of the mosque called out de Blasio for not visiting the site.
“It’s been more than 48 hours,” Kukon said. “The mayor has not been here. If this was a Jewish community, the mayor would be there the next hour.”
De Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips said, “The mayor and our senior staff have been in constant contact with community leaders since the tragedy.”
Jewish activists visited the mosque Sunday night in a show of solidarity. Robert Silverman, 57, director of Muslim/Jewish relations for the America Jewish Congress, went straight to the mosque after getting off a flight from Indonesia.
“We’re here to show support to the Muslim community,” he said. “It was a heinous crime. We have to rely on the police to decide if this was a hate crime. We really don’t know what this was motivated by.”
Apparently one day before the Queens murders, on Friday, two other (non-lethal) attacks that occurred Wednesday were being investigated by the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force:
Two men attacked a 54-year-old Hasidic man on a Brooklyn street, one hitting the victim in the face with a basketball, the other ripping the yarmulke off his head, police sources said Friday. […]
The victim was heading to his apartment when the two men approached him.
No words were exchanged, but one of the suspects flung a basketball, hitting the victim in his face, while the other took his yarmulke, then threw it to the ground as he and his accomplice fled. […]
Also Wednesday, at 10 p.m., a suspect mocked and threatened a Muslim man walking past a library on 99th St. in Lefrak City in Queens.
“You Talibans like to blow yourselves up,” said the suspect, who was on a bicycle. “I have a blade and I can use it and take care of you.” […]
Making America great again, y’all—one bigoted hate crime at a time. //
More details and additional video at the link:
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The NYPD believes a man they have in custody is the person behind the fatal shooting of an imam and his associate.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said during a press conference Monday night that they believe the suspect in custody for a hit-and-run in Brooklyn is the same person who killed Imam Maulama Akonjee, 55, and his assistant Thara Uddin, 64. […]
Presser with Mayor De Blasio (starts around 6:00):
This will be my last update to this page. I doubt anyone is still reading it, but I wanted to followup now that the gun found in the suspect’s apartment has been confirmed to be the same one used in the murders and he has now been charged with multiple offenses, including first- and second-degree murder. Bail has been denied.
Kudos to the New York Daily News—they done a great job covering this.
The suspected lone gunman in the slayings of a revered Queens imam and a second man was held without bail Tuesday after authorities found the murder weapon in his home.
Oscar Morel, his hands and feet shackled, returned to jail pending an Aug. 18 hearing after the brief Queens Criminal Court session, where about 20 friends and family members of the victims looked on. […]
Morel was officially charged with first-degree murder Tuesday in the killings of mosque leader Maulama Akonjee and Thara Uddin as they walked side by side on a Queens street.
If he’s convicted, he could now face a sentence of life without parole. […]
McCormick said ballistics tests done on the black .38-caliber Taurus revolver found in the suspect’s basement apartment showed it was the weapon used to kill the two men. […]
The prosecutor also said there was extensive video tracing the suspect’s route back to Brooklyn after the shootings. […]
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown acknowledged the motive behind the shootings remained unclear. Hate crime charges remain a possibility against Brooklynite Morel.
The first-degree murder charge was announced after police sources said Morel stashed the murder weapon in a crudely concocted hole in the wall of his basement apartment.
He also faces two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.
The not-so-secret hiding place created for the black Taurus revolver was quickly found by cops Monday evening, sources said. […]
He had no known ties to Ozone Park or the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque, where Akonjee preached.