Jakarta, 11 Dhulqa’dah 1437/14 August 2016 (MINA) – A lone gunman executed a revered Queens imam and his friend as the pair walked home from Saturday prayers, blasting each in the back of the head without a word, officials said.
Mosque leader Maulama Akonjee and friend Thara Uddin were dressed in Muslim garb when the killer “approached from behind and shot” from point-blank range, said NYPD Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner of the Queens South Detective Bureau.
Akonjee, 55, a married father of three, was a respected religious leader since his arrival in Queens from Bangladesh less than two years ago. The bearded Uddin, 65, died about four hours after the attack.
The incident shocked Imam at Jamaica Muslim Center Shamsi Ali who is currently in Indonesia for events. He said that the anti Islam incident was trigerred by rasist campaigns of presidential candidate Donald Trump in his speeches.
The gunshots rang out around 1:55 p.m. on 79th St., police said. Uddin, also a father of three, was lying on the ground bleeding heavily when his nephew arrived by chance at the scene.
According to the President of Nusantara Foundation, political racism and anti-Islam launched by Trump bring adverse effects even dangerous to the lives of Americans, particularly immigrants and Muslims. Race relations, inter-ethnic and inter-religious frays, and even tend to build up suspicion and hatred.
“What I call the” politics of hate “has now brought the bitter fruit for the American people,” he told Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA).
Scores of worshipers from the mosque gathered within hours at the murder scene to denounce the cold-blooded ambush as a hate crime.
“That’s not what America is about,” said local resident Khairul Islam, 33. “We blame Donald Trump for this . . . Trump and his drama has created Islamophobia.”
A high-ranking police source said the NYPD hate crimes task force would investigate, but it was “too early to say” what the motive was.
A second source said investigators were looking into the possibility of a botched robbery because one of the men was found carrying several hundred dollars.
The shooter left his victims lying in their own blood just one block from the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque in Ozone Park, where the two victims prayed together only minutes earlier.
Cops had security video and witnesses who saw the killer, with the gun in his hand, sprinting away from the bodies, Sautner said.
The imam’s nephew said Akonjee had no problems with anyone in the neighborhood.
Local residents described the imam as a pious, well-regarded member of the community. Akonjee was leaving for Bangladesh in 10 days to attend his son’s wedding, said Ahmed Zakria, a member of the 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.”(L/R04/R03)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)