Brooklyn Cabbie Charged With Conspiracy to Commit ‘Honor’ Killing in Pakistan

By Barbara Boland | October 25, 2013 | 2:54 PM EDT

(AP Photo)

( -- A Brooklyn taxi cab driver, Mohammad Ajmal Choudhry, is being held without bail in a Brooklyn jail after being formally charged by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York with conspiracy to commit “honor killings” in Pakistan.

Choudhry, 60, who was arrested back in February and arraigned in a U.S. courthouse in Brooklyn on Sept. 26, also faces charges of visa fraud and transmitting threats by interstate communications. (See Honor Killing Indictment.pdf )

According to the indictment and other court filings, Choudhry’s daughter, Amina Ajmal, “was held against her will in Pakistan for more than three years by relatives at her father’s direction.  During that time, Ajmal, a U.S. citizen, was forced into an arranged marriage with a Pakistani national for the purpose of obtaining a U.S. visa for that individual.  Ajmal eventually escaped Pakistan and returned to the United States with the assistance of a cousin and U.S. State Department officials.”

“During subsequent recorded telephone calls between Ajmal and Choudhry, the defendant threatened to orchestrate the murder of Ajmal’s cousin if Ajmal, whose whereabouts remained unknown to the defendant, did not return immediately to the family home in Brooklyn,” said the U.S. attorney’s office in a press release.   “On February 25, 2013, after Ajmal refused to return home, Ajmal’s cousin’s father and sister were shot and killed in Pakistan.”

“According to an eyewitness, Choudhry’s brother was observed standing over the victims, holding a gun and desecrating the bodies,” reads the press release.  “Agents from HSI [Homeland Security] and the Diplomatic Security Service placed Choudhry under arrest in Brooklyn later that same day.”

Commenting on the case, U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch said, “As alleged, the defendant viewed his daughter as a commodity to be bartered. When she escaped those holding her overseas and fled to safety in the U.S., the defendant enlisted his confederates to retaliate against those who had helped her to freedom. As a result of his plot, two innocent people were murdered in Pakistan.”

(Associated Press)

“We are committed to ensuring that people in the United States who export murder abroad will be brought to justice,” said Lynch.

Due to the fact that the investigation is ongoing, Lynch was unable to comment further on this case to

New York Special Agent-in-Charge James T. Hayes said, “There is nothing less honorable than the murder of innocent people.”

Honor killings occur throughout the world, according to the United Nations.  In a statement from 2010, the U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said.  “Most of the 5,000 honour killings reported to take place every year around the world do not make the news, nor do the other myriad forms of violence inflicted on women and girls by husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, uncles and other male – and sometimes even female – family members.”

“In the name of preserving family ‘honour,’ women and girls are shot, stoned, burned,

buried alive, strangled, smothered and knifed to death with horrifying regularity,” said Pillay.  “The reasons for these murders vary. They may be committed because the victim is considered to have breached family or community norms with respect to sexual conduct, or simply because a woman has expressed a desire to pick a husband of her own choice, or wishes to divorce or claim inheritance.”

According to the Pakistani newspaper, The Financial Daily, “In many countries, the honour killing practice is socially accepted in the communities and families and the murderers are not punished at all. In countries like Pakistan and Yemen, for example, the killings are often ignored by police and prosecutors.  Honour killing is especially noted in Muslim countries. In UK, US and Canada the most famous cases of honour killing involve Muslim families. Even though the development of honour crimes is predominant in Muslim country not a single text within the Holy Quran, allow this.”

(AP Photo)

“In Pakistan, honour killings are prevalent throughout the country, though in some areas the occurrences of honour killings have taken an alarmingly high proportion of incidents in recent years,” said The Financial Daily.  “About 1,000 Pakistani women were murdered last year for willfully dishonoring their families.  They were killed by their own relatives for supposedly dishonoring their families.”

The State Department’s Human Rights Practices 2012: Report for Pakistan says, “At times women were victims of various types of societal violence and abuse, including honor killings; facial, bodily, and genital mutilation; forced marriages; imposed isolation; and being used to settle disputes. Women often were treated as chattel, and perpetrators were often husbands and other male family members.”

“The practice of cutting off a woman’s nose or ears, especially in connection with ‘honor’ crimes, was reported often, but government officials [in Pakistan] did little to combat the practice,” said the State Department report.

Laws in Pakistan such as the Prevention of Anti-Women Practice Amendment Act and  the Acid Control and Acid Crime Practice Bill were passed to help combat crimes against women, including honor killings. However, as the State Department reported, “Despite these laws, hundreds of women reportedly were victims of honor killings. Many cases went unreported and unpunished. The Aurat Foundation reported 2,341 honor killings between 2008 and 2011 and estimated that less than 2 percent of all honor killings were reported.”

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