As Socialite Confesses to Beheading, CCTV Footage Shows Victim’s Failed Escape

The investigating officers revealed that Zahir Jaffer used a knuckle duster to “torture” the victim before killing her in Pakistan's capital.
Pallavi Pundir
Jakarta, ID
women's right, safety, gender-based violence, noor mukadam, zahir jaffer, pakistan, south asia, murder, crime
The brutal murder of Noor Mukadam has triggered protests across Pakistan. Photo: Arif Ali / AFP 

The American-Pakistani socialite arrested for beheading a 27-year-old woman in his home last week has confessed to brutally murdering her, police officials of the Pakistani capital Islamabad said. 

It has been a week since the murder, and as protests and vigils are held in Pakistan and around the world to demand justice, the case continues to shock with disturbing details emerging from the investigation. 

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Zahir Jaffer, the son of a prominent business family in the country, was taken into custody after the body of Noor Mukadam, the daughter of former diplomat Shaukat Mukadam, was found in his home. Islamabad police officials found Jaffer covered in blood and bound with ropes by employees of an elite rehab centre his parents had called in to ‘contain’ him. 

A police official close to the investigation told Pakistani publication Dawn that Jaffer made the confession late on Monday night, July 26. “A statement of Zahir Jaffer is being recorded and he will also be produced before a magistrate to record his statement,” the official said. 

Over the weekend, the investigating officers told the judicial magistrate that Jaffer had “tortured” Mukadam with a knuckle duster before beheading her. Knuckle dusters – a metallic weapon worn around fingers – is banned in some countries like the UK. 

The investigating officers also revealed details of footage from CCTV cameras installed near Jaffer’s house. They said Mukadam was seen trying to escape from Jaffer’s house by jumping from the second floor to flee through the main gate. Police said the footage showed Mukadam unable to open the locked gate, so she hid inside a watchman’s room next to the gate. In the footage, Jaffer is later seen breaking into the room and dragging Mukadam back into the house, according to police. 

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Investigative officers also told the court that Jaffer had called up his parents to tell them that Mukadam refused to marry him. They added that their watchman and butler were witnesses but stayed silent. “Police reached the site after a neighbour informed them,” the officer was quoted as saying

In a leaked interview, the management of Therapy Works – the elite rehab centre where Jaffer’s mother is an authorised therapist – told the investigative officers that Jaffer has a “chequered history” of abuse, including an incident in London, U.K., in which he attacked his own mother and police were called in to intervene.

A recording believed to be Therapy Works owner Tahir Zaroor’s statement to the police has been leaked on social media. In it, Zahoor said that on the day of the murder, Jaffer’s mother called the rehab centre instead of the police, and his father, Zakir, told the centre’s staff that their son is “soliciting” a girl in the house. 

“There was no seriousness on their part,” said Zahoor. “But we took it seriously. I thought [Jaffer] needs to be locked up.” 

“By the time we reached and broke through the door, the girl had been murdered and beheaded. He then attacked our team with a gun and knife,” said the voice in the recording. 

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Jaffer is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Pakistan. Islamabad Police officials told Dawn that U.S. Embassy staff met with Jaffer on Monday. The embassy, said the police, had requested the meeting. Two rounds of meetings were held, one in the presence of senior police officers, and another without them. The embassy was also briefed by the police on the progress of the investigation. 

Neither the embassy spokesperson nor the police officials have revealed details of the meeting. 

On Sunday, Jaffer’s parents were taken into two-day police custody on the charge of concealing the crime.

Rizwan Abbasi, the family’s lawyer, told reporters that Jaffer’s parents were granted interim bail by the high court but were arrested anyway. “A report will be registered against the police for ignoring the court’s order,” he told Geo TV. 

While on his way to the court last weekend, Jaffer’s father Zakir told reporters,  that his sympathies were with Mukadam’s parents. Abbasi maintained that “neither were the parents involved in the matter, nor will they put up a defence.” 

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Last week, Mukadam’s father Shaukat addressed the media and called it a straightforward case, stating that Jaffer even attacked the medical team that had come to catch him. “There are two cases against him: murder and attempted murder,” said Shaukat. 

He did not believe Jaffer had mental health problems, but rather possessed a “criminal mind,” Shaukat added.

“I want justice, and if, God forbid, I don’t get it, I will not leave him.” 

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