A veteran New York City taxi driver originally from Pakistan was convicted of two honor killings he arranged to avenge his family’s “humiliation.”
Mohammed Choudhry, 61, who drove a cabin New York for more than 20 years, had forced his 23-year-old daughter, Amina Ajmal, into an arranged marriage in Pakistan in 2012. However, Ajmal, who was raised in the U.S. and college-educated, was in love with another man, Shujat Abbas.
When Ajmal fled the marriage during a daring midnight escape with Abbas and came back to the U.S., Choudry vowed to take revenge for the family’s disgraced “honor,” pledging to kill Abbas and his entire family.
“He said it over and over. He wanted to kill Shujat Abbas — the boy who helped his daughter run away from an arranged marriage, the boy who humiliated him in front of his family and village,” said federal prosecutor Richard Tucker during the closing arguments of the trial yesterday in Brooklyn.
Choudry had told his daughter, who had remained in telephone contact with her father, to leave Abbas and come home – or else. “Until I find you, nothing is going to stop me,” he said. “I am going to kill their whole family.”
Ajmal, alarmed, recorded the increasingly threatening telephone conversations she had with her father and eventually contacted federal agents.
Meanwhile, Choudry began to fulfill his vow. Enlisting the help of his uncle and other men in the village in Pakistan and directing the operation from his cab in New York, Choudary had Abbas’ father and sister killed. They were brutally mowed down under a hail of bullet fire as they rode a motorcycle together in Pakistan in February 2013.
“From the front seat of his yellow cab, the defendant planned and executed a murder,” Tucker said. “Even as he transported unsuspecting New Yorkers in Brooklyn and Manhattan he called the shots in Pakistan.”
Although she admitted that she still loved her father, Amjal testified against him in the trial, saying she had not believed he was really capable of murder.
Abbas’ relatives also attended the trial, breaking down in tears at times. Tucker told the jury that they deserved the justice that would not and had not come to them in their native country.
“This is the Unites States,” Tucker said. “Here, murder is not tolerated. There is law, there is justice. You should find the defendant guilty,” Tucker told the jury.
It took the jury close to one hour to decide that Choudary was guilty. Choudary was also convicted of visa fraud in connection with his daughter's husband from her aranged marriage.
He faces a sentence of life in prison.