Police formally name first 5 victims of New Zealand mosque massacre

by - 11 min read

Police formally name first 5 victims of New Zealand mosque massacre

by - 11 min read

by

New Zealand’s police commissioner, Mike Bush, on Tuesday formally released the first five names of victims in last week’s attacks on two mosques in Christchurch.

The Friday attacks took the lives of 50 worshippers and left dozens more wounded when a man believed to be a white supremacist opened fire and live streamed the shootings.

Bush said 21 victims have been identified overall. 

“We must work on behalf of the coroner to ensure we have the correct identification,” he said. “It would be unforgivable to return the wrong body to a family.”

In a statement Wednesday morning, local time, Bush named the victims as:

  • Hati Mohemmed Daoud Nabi of New Zealand, 71 years old. 
  • Mohsen Mohammed Al Harbi of New Zealand, 63. 
  • Kamel Moh’d KamalKamelDarwish of Jordan, 38. 
  • Junaid Ismail of New Zealand, 36. 
  • Mucaad Ibrahim of New Zealand, 3. 

All five victims died at the Masjid Al-Noor mosque, Bush said.

Several victims have also been identified by family members. 

The dead

Naeem Rashid, 50, and Talha Rashid, 21

Naeem Rashid, 50, a teacher who moved to New Zealand from Pakistan with his family when he was 11, was killed at the Al-Noor mosque after he tried to grab the shooter’s gun. (Handout/Shaukat Khan/Canadian Press)

As the shootings unfolded, Naeem Rashid is seen on video trying to tackle the gunman, according to Rashid’s brother, Khurshid Alam.

“He was a brave person, and I’ve heard from a few people there — there were few witnesses — they’ve said he saved a few lives there by trying to stop that guy,” Alam told the BBC.

Rashid’s son, Talha Rashid, is also among the dead. Pakistan’s Ministry of Public Affairs confirmed their deaths in a tweet.

The elder Rashid was a teacher in Christchurch and was from Abbottabad, Pakistan. His son was 11 when his family moved to New Zealand. He had a new job and planned to get married.

Daoud Nabi, 71

Brothers Omar Nabi, right, and Yama Nabi hold a photo of their father Daoud Nabi outside the court building in Christchurch on Saturday. (Tessa Burrows/AFP/Getty Images)

Nabi moved his family to New Zealand in 1979 from Afghanistan to escape the Soviet-Afghan war. Days before the shootings, his son, Omar, recalled his father speaking about the importance of unity.

“My father said how important it is to spread love and unity among each other and protect every member of the society we live in,” Omar told Al Jazeera.

Police formally identified Nabi as a victim Wednesday morning local time.

Omar told the news network his father ran an Afghan Association and helped refugees settle in to a new country.

“He used to make them feel at home,” Omar said.

Atta Elyan

Atta Elyan, who was in his 30s, died of his wounds from the shooting, Muath Elyan, his uncle, told The Associated Press.

His father, Mohammed Elyan, a Jordanian in his 60s who co-founded one of the mosques in 1993, was among those wounded, said Muath Elyan, who said he spoke to Mohammed’s wife after the shooting.

Muath said his brother helped establish the mosque a year after arriving in New Zealand, where he teaches engineering at a university and runs a consultancy. He said his brother last visited Jordan two years ago.

“He used to tell us life was good in New Zealand and its people are good and welcoming. He enjoyed freedom there and never complained about anything,” Muath told the AP. “I’m sure this bloody crime doesn’t represent the New Zealanders.”

Syed Areeb Ahmed, 27

Ahmed had recently moved from his house in Karachi, Pakistan, for a job in New Zealand to help support his family back home. On Saturday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry informed his family that Ahmen was among those killed during the mosque attack. 

One of his uncles, Muhammad Muzaffar Khan, described him as deeply religious, praying five times a day. But education was always his first priority, Khan said. 

“He had done chartered accountancy from Pakistan. He was the only son to his parents. He had only one younger sister … He had only started his career, but the enemies took his life.”

Family members, relatives, and friends have gathered at Ahmed’s house in Karachi to express their condolences. His body is expected to arrive there in coming days.

A relative shows the picture of Syed Areeb Ahmed, a Pakistani citizen who was killed in the Christchurch mosque shootings, on his cellphone outside his home in Karachi on Saturday. (Fareed Khan/Associated Press)

Hussein al-Umari

An Iraqi who was born in Abu Dhabi was killed in the attack. His mother wrote on social media that Hussein al-Umari was killed.

His family and friends had been seeking information on al-Umari, in his mid-30s, who had failed to return after going to Friday prayers at the Al-Noor mosque.

His mother, an Iraqi calligraphy artist named Janna Ezzat, wrote on Facebook that her son had become a martyr. Ezzat wrote: “Our son was full of life and always put the needs of others in front of his own.”

Junaid Mortara, 35

Javed Dadabhai is mourning for his gentle cousin, 35-year-old Junaid Mortara, believed to have died in the first mosque attack.  

His cousin was the breadwinner of the family, supporting his mother, his wife and their three children, ages one to five. Mortara had inherited his father’s convenience store, which was covered in flowers on Saturday.

Mortara was an avid cricket fan, and would always send a sparring text with relatives over cricket matches when Canterbury faced Auckland.

Husna Ahmed, 45

Farid Ahmed, centre, a 59-year-old survivor of the Friday mosque attacks, talks with other relatives outside an information centre for families on Saturday. His wife, Husna Ahmed, 45, was killed in the attack on the Al-Noor mosque. Despite the violence, Ahmed who is originally from Bangladesh, still considers New Zealand a great country. (Vincent Thian/Associated Press)

Farid Ahmed lost his 45-year-old wife, Husna Ahmed, in the Al-Noor mosque attack. They had separated to go to the bathroom when it happened. 

The gunman live streamed the massacre on the internet, and Ahmed later saw a video of his wife being shot. A police officer confirmed she died.

Despite the horror, Ahmed — originally from Bangladesh — still considers New Zealand a great country.

“I believe that some people, purposely, they are trying to break down the harmony we have in New Zealand with the diversity,” he said. “But they are not going to win. They are not going to win. We will be harmonious.”

Husne Ara Parvin, 41

Parvin died being struck by bullets while trying to shield her wheelchair-bound husband, Farid Uddin Ahmed, her nephew Mahfuz Chowdhury told The Daily Star, a newspaper in Bangladesh.

Chowdhury said Uddin had been ill for years and Parvin took him to the mosque every other Friday. She had taken him to the mosque for men while she went to the one for women. Mahfuz said relatives in New Zealand told him when the shootings began, Parvin rushed to her husband’s mosque to protect him. He survived.

The Bangladeshi couple had moved to New Zealand sometime after 1994, Chowdhury said.

Farhaj Ahsan, 30

Farhaj Ahsan, a software engineer, moved to New Zealand six years ago from the city of Hyderabad in India, where his parents still live, according to the Mumbai Mirror. “We received the disturbing news,” Ahsan’s father, Mohammed Sayeeduddin, told the newspaper Saturday.

Friends and family had been trying to reach Ahsan since the attack. Ahsan was married and had a three-year-old daughter and infant son. 

Abdullahi Dirie, 4

Four of Adan Ibrahin Dirie’s five children managed to escape Friday’s attacks, but the youngest, Abdullahi, was killed, his uncle, Abdulrahman Hashi, 60, a preacher at Dar Al Hijrah Mosque in Minneapolis, told the New Zealand Herald.

Dirie also suffered gunshot wounds and was hospitalized. The family fled Somalia in the mid-1990s as refugees and resettled in New Zealand. “You cannot imagine how I feel,” Hashi said. He added: “He was the youngest in the family. This is a problem of extremism. Some people think the Muslims in their country are part of that, but these are innocent people.” 

Ali Elmadani

Ali Elmadani and his wife immigrated from the United Arab Emirates in 1998. The retired Christchurch engineer always told his children to be strong and patient, so that’s what they are trying to do after the tragedy, his daughter Maha Elmadani told Stuff.

“He considered New Zealand home and never thought something like this would happen here,” she said. She said her mother “is staying as strong as possible. My younger brother isn’t doing too well with the news.” 

Mucad Ibrahim, 3

Mucad Ibrahim was lost in the melee when the firing started at the Al-Noor mosque as his older brother Abdi fled for his life and his father pretended to be dead after being shot.

The New Zealand Herald reported that the family searched in vain for the toddler at Christchurch hospital and later posted a photograph of Mucad, smiling, with Abdi with the caption: “Verily we belong to God and to Him we shall return. Will miss you dearly brother.”

Police formally identified Mucad as a victim on Wednesday.

Abdi described his little brother as “energetic, playful and liked to smile and laugh a lot,” confessing he felt nothing but “hatred” for his killer. 

Sayyad Milne, 14

Milne was described as a good-natured, kind teenager. The high school student was at the Al-Noor mosque for Friday prayers when the attack started, his half-sister, Brydie Henry, told the Stuff media outlet.

Sayyad was last seen “lying on the floor of the bloody mosque, bleeding from his lower body,” she said, repeating what her father had told her. Sayyad’s mother, Noraini, was also in the mosque and managed to escape, Henry said.

The teenager has two other siblings, 15-year-old twins Shuayb and Cahaya. “They’re all at home just waiting. They’re just waiting and they don’t know what to do,” Henry told the news site.

Mohamed Imran Khan

A handwritten cardboard sign outside Mohammad Imran Khan’s restaurant, the Indian Grill in Christchurch, on Sunday said simply “Closed.” A handful of pink flowers lay nearby. The owner of the convenience store next door, JB’s Discounter, Jaiman Patel, 31, said he helped the staff with the keys after the terrorist attack that claimed Khan’s life.

“He’s a really good guy. I tried to help him out with the setup and everything,” Patel said. “We also put the key out for them when the terrorists come, and sorted it out for him.” Khan had a son who was 10 or 11, Patel said.

The two were business neighbours who helped each other out when needed, he said. “We are helping each other. It’s so sad.”

Lilik Abdul Hamid

Lilik Abdul Hamid, a longtime aircraft maintenance engineer at Air New Zealand, was killed in the Al-Noor mosque, his employer said in a statement.

Lilik has been a valued part of our engineering team in Christchurch for 16 years, but he first got to know the team even earlier when he worked with our aircraft engineers in a previous role overseas,” Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon said. 

“The friendships he made at that time led him to apply for a role in Air New Zealand and make the move to Christchurch. His loss will be deeply felt by the team.”

Hamid was married and had two children, Luxon said. “Lilik, his wife, Nina, and their children Zhania and Gerin are well known and loved by our close-knit team of engineers and their families, who are now doing all they can to support the family alongside our leadership team and the airline’s special assistance team,” he said.

Hussein al-Umari

 An Iraqi who was born in Abu Dhabi was killed in the attack. His mother wrote on social media that Hussein al-Umari was killed.

His family and friends had been seeking information on al-Umari, in his mid-30s, who had failed to return after going to Friday prayers at the Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch.

His mother, an Iraqi calligraphy artist named Janna Ezzat, wrote on Facebook that her son had become a martyr. Ezzat wrote: “Our son was full of life and always put the needs of others in front of his own.”

The wounded

Shihadeh Nasasrah, 63

Shihadeh Nasasrah, 63, who was wounded in the New Zealand mosque shooting, said he spent terrifying minutes lying underneath two dying men as the gunman kept firing.

The assailant “would go out and bring more ammunition and resume shooting,” said Nasasrah, speaking by phone from a Christchurch hospital where he was recovering from two shots to the leg.

“Every time he stopped, I thought he was gone. But he returned over and over again. I was afraid to leave because I didn’t know the safest way out. I died several times, not one time.”

Nasasrah had attended Friday prayers at the Al-Noor Mosque with his friend, Abdel Fattah Qasim, 60, who was killed in the shooting. Both were originally from the West Bank — Nasasrah from the town of Beit Furik and Qasim from the town of Arabeh.

Nasasrah said about 200 to 300 worshippers were in the mosque for Friday prayers, and that he and his friend were sitting in the front, near the imam, or prayer leader. The imam was delivering the sermon when the gunman burst into the mosque, he said.

“Panic spread all over the place,” Nasasrah said. “Some started saying Allahu Akbar [God is great]. We scrambled to leave toward a second door that leads to a hall and then to the street, but the bullets brought us down.”

“Two people came on top of me, and he [the gunman] approached us and opened fire. Both were killed and I felt them dying,” Nasasrah said. “I felt their blood. I myself was shot and I thought ‘I’m dying.'”

He said he uttered the words that devout Muslims speak before their death — “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger.”

Nasasrah, a car dealer, said most of the worshippers were from Asia, including Indonesia, India, Singapore and Malaysia, and that Arabs made up a smaller part of the congregation.

The attack left him and other Muslims in the area worried and puzzled. “I never heard a racist word in this country,” he said. “I don’t know what happened and why. I will not leave this country. Our lives are well established here, our homes, work, family is here and we will not leave.”

As a young man, Nasasrah studied English in the Syrian capital of Damascus, and then worked as a translator at the New Zealand embassy in Saudi Arabia for 14 years. The father of three moved to New Zealand in 1990. His three children graduated from universities in New Zealand and have established their lives in the country.

Muhammad Amin Nasir, 67

Nasir and his son were just 200 metres from the Al-Noor mosque on Friday when everything went wrong. They had no idea that a white supremacist had just slaughtered at least 41 people inside the mosque. A car that had been driving by suddenly stopped, and a man leaned out the window pointing a gun at them.

They ran as the bullets began to fly. But at 67, Nasir could not keep up with his 35-year-old son. He fell behind by two or three fateful steps.

The gunman drove away. A pool of blood poured from Nasir’s body. Nasir, who lived in Pakistan, had been regularly visiting his son in New Zealand. 

He was on the third week of his visit when he was shot. He remains in an induced coma with critical injuries, though his condition has stabilized.

Mohammed Elyan

Mohammed Elyan, a Jordanian in his 60s who co-founded one of the mosques in 1993, was among those wounded, as was his son, Atta, who is in his 30s. That’s according to Muath Elyan, Mohammed’s brother, who said he spoke to Mohammed’s wife after the shooting.

Muath Elyan said his brother helped establish the mosque a year after arriving in New Zealand, where he teaches engineering at a university and runs a consultancy. He said his brother last visited Jordan two years ago.

“He used to tell us life was good in New Zealand and its people are good and welcoming. He enjoyed freedom there and never complained about anything,” Muath told The Associated Press. “I’m sure this bloody crime doesn’t represent the New Zealanders.”

Waseem and Elin Daraghmeh 

A Jordanian man says his four-year-old niece is fighting for her life after being wounded. Sabri Daraghmeh said by phone from Jordan on Saturday that the girl, Elin, remains “in the danger phase” and that her father, Waseem — Sabri’s brother — is in stable condition.

Daraghmeh says the 33-year-old Waseem moved to New Zealand five years ago and that he described it as the “safest place one could ever live in.”

The Daraghmehs are of Palestinian origin, but have Jordanian citizenship, like several others listed as Jordanian nationals among those killed and wounded in the mosque attacks.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said Saturday that at least four Palestinians were among those killed, but acknowledged they could have been counted by Jordan or other countries.

Adeeb Sami, 52

As the rampage inside the mosque began, Sami was shot in the back as he dove to protect his two sons, Abdullah, 29, and Ali, 23, the Gulf News reported.

“My dad is a real hero. He got shot in the back near his spine in an attempt to shield my brothers, but he didn’t let anything happen to them,” Adeeb’s daughter, Heba, 30, told the Gulf News.

Sami underwent surgery to remove the bullet and his daughter said he’s recovering.

This story originally appeared on CBC

Top