While living in Brooklyn and driving the streets of Manhattan, 61-year-old Mohammad Ajmal Choudhry allegedly worked with his Pakistani family members to coordinate a murder plot against relatives of someone who he believed helped his daughter escape an arranged marriage.
According to Reuters, a federal court jury issued a guilty verdict on Thursday for charges of visa fraud, making threats of injury, and conspiring to commit murder abroad.
In a twisted plot leading up to the court case, Choudhry’s daughter, Amina Ajmal, was allegedly kept in Pakistan for three years by family members, at her father's behest, in order to marry her off to a man in need of an American visa.
Without her father’s knowledge, Ajmal fled back to the US, where she received help from her cousin and the US State Department.
Ajmal recorded phone calls with her father, who was unaware of her location, in which he issued death threats against the cousin. Choudhry demanded the girl return to Brooklyn where the family was living. In her testimony, Ajmal said her father threatened to kill her.
Court records cite a phone call in February 2013 in which he said “I will not end this, until I find you,” and “I will kill their entire family.”
Prosecutors allege that just days after this conversation, the father and sister of the cousin were shot and killed in Pakistan, while another relative was injured. The same day of the murders, and on the other side of the world in Brooklyn, Choudhry was placed under arrest.
The verdict comes after news emerged that two newlyweds in Pakistan were victims of an honor killing, when family members who disapproved of the marriage lured them to a village, drugged them, and killed them with knives.
These kind of killings are typically committed by family members against a woman whose actions have brought shame on the family. Some examples of allegedly shameful behavior include premarital sex and marrying someone whom the family disapproves.
“While honor killings may use the language of religion, they have been found in many parts of the world, from Italy to India to Iraq,” Deeyah Khan, a co-founder of the Honor Based Violence Awareness network (HBVA), told VICE News. “We can’t point at religion for an explanation, but instead look at how the rural way of life is organized around the family, and how marriage is used as part of that.”
According to Honor Based Violence Awareness network figures, around 5,000 people are victims of honor killings annually. In Pakistan alone, the Human Rights Commission estimates 900 women were murdered in honor killings last year.
Additional reporting by Olivia Becker
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