Stories of the victims of the New Zealand mosque attack
Fifty people were killed in a terror attack at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday. Some information on the victims who were lost:
Farid Ahmed refuses to turn his back on his adopted home, despite losing his 45-year-old wife, Husna Ahmed, in the Al Noor mosque attack. They had split up to go to the bathroom when it happened.
The gunman livestreamed 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.”
The 30-year-old 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 3-year-old daughter and infant son.
Four of Adan Ibrahin Dirie’s five children managed to escape Friday’s attacks, but the youngest, 4-year-old 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.”
Elmadani and his wife emigrated 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.”
Atta Elayyan, 33, was a goalkeeper for a New Zealand futsal team.
The Oceania Football Confederation said those who knew Elayyan described him as having “an unbridled passion for futsal and for representing New Zealand.” Futsal is a variant of indoor soccer. A statement from the confederation released Monday extended condolences to Atta’s family and all of those affected.
OFC official Paul Toohey said Elayyan was a selfless man who always had time for friends, family, teammates and young up-and-coming players. “Atta was everything a team could want — an outstanding performer who was dedicated to his goalkeeping craft — but also a great friend and leader among his teammates at Canterbury United Dragons and the Futsal Whites,” Toohey said.
His father, Mohammed Elyan, co-founded one of the mosques in 1993, and was among those wounded, said Muath Elyan, Mohammed’s brother, who said he spoke to Mohammed’s wife after the shooting. Muath said his brother also teaches engineering at a university and runs a consultancy.
LILIK ABDUL HAMID
The longtime aircraft maintenance engineer at Air New Zealand was killed in the Al Noor mosque when he was killed, 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 Chief Executive Officer 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.
At just 3 years old, Mucaad Ibrahim is the youngest known victim of the attacks. He was separated from his older brother Abdi and their father when the shooting began at the Al Noor mosque.
After an agonizing search by the family, Abdi said police finally confirmed that the toddler had been killed.
Mucaad was born and raised in Christchurch. He was beloved by the community, known for his energetic demeanor and easy laugh. He was bright and bubbly, and loved playing with an iPad.
Ahmed Osman, a close family friend, said Mucaad used to cheer from the sidelines as Osman and Abdi played soccer on Friday evenings at a park near the mosque. The little boy had planned to watch them play soccer as usual on Friday. He never made it.
Osman said the support of the community has helped the family pull through.
“New Zealand is always behind us,” he said. “Even when we walk down the street, people stop us and say, ‘Are you guys OK?’ That’s what New Zealand is about. It’s all about coming together. One person cannot stop us.”
MOHAMMAD 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 laid 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 neighbors who helped each other out when needed, he said.
“We are helping each other. It’s so sad.”
Milne, 14, 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 her father 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.
“He had kind eyes, a big heart, a cheeky smile and a thick mop of black hair. He loved playing football and also indoor futsal,” Cashmere High School principal Mark Wilson told students at an assembly Monday.
The school’s futsal goalkeeper planned to travel with the team to the national tournament in Wellington this month.
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 1 to 5. 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.
HAJI DAOUD NABI
Nabi, 71, moved his family to New Zealand in 1979 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.
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.
HUSNE ARA PARVIN
Parvin, 42, 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 Bangladesh newspaper.
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.
When Aya Al-Umari thinks of her big brother, she pictures him with his arms wide open, ready to wrap her in an embrace. Hussein Al-Umari was a hugger, she says, a kind man, and the quintessential big brother who delighted in teasing his little sister.
Hussein, 35, was killed while attending Friday prayers at Al Noor mosque.
Aya had spent the previous evening having dinner with him, and she recalled how excited he was that their parents had just bought a new car.
She and her brother were born in Abu Dhabi and moved with their parents to New Zealand in 1997. Hussein worked in the tourism industry, and he loved traveling. He had recently traveled to the seaside South Island city of Nelson and had created a video blog of his adventures. Aya had been impressed by how polished it was.
Their 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.”
India’s ambassador to New Zealand said five Indian citizens were killed in the attacks:
— Maheboob Khokhar
— Ramiz Vora
— Asif Vora
— Ansi Alibava
— Ozair Kadir
Indian news reports said Alibava, 25, had moved to New Zealand last year after marrying Abdul Nazar.
The Indian Express newspaper said she was studying agriculture technology at Lincoln University and her husband worked at a supermarket in Christchurch. They got married in 2017.
The Manorama Online news site said her mother, Rasia, had prayed for the safety of the two when the news broke of the attacks.
Alibava used to call her family back in India every day, but they were worried when there was no call after the shootings. They later found out from the husband what had happened.
The report said she was hoping to find a job in New Zealand to support her family back home.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry said nine Pakistanis were killed in the attacks:
—Ghulam Hussain and his wife, Karam Bibi, and their son Zeeshan Raza
— Haroon Mahmood, 40, son of Shahid Mehmood
—Sohail Shahid, 40, son of Muhammad Shabbir
— Syed Areeb Ahmed, 26, son of Ayaz Ahmed
—Syed Jahanand Ali, 34
—Naeem Rashid, 50, and his son Talha Naeem, 21
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 a 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 Naeem, is also among the dead.
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.
Rashid’s brother, Dr. Mohammad Khursheed, who lives in Abbottabad, received an emotional call from his sister-in-law telling him of his brother’s death.
Khursheed said his brother had already bought a plane ticket to Pakistan for a May family reunion.
Pakistan declared Monday a national day of mourning to honor its citizens killed in the attack, and said Rashid would be recognized for his heroism.
Another Pakistani victim, Syed Areeb Ahmed, was an only son who had immigrated to New Zealand for work, said his uncle Muhammad Muzaffar Khan. Ahmed was an accountant who has just begun his career.
“Education had always remained his first priority,” said his uncle, adding that the family in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi were waiting for his body to be returned home. “He had gone to New Zealand recently, where he got his job. He had only started his career, but the enemies took his life.”
Hamza’s family fled the civil war in Syria, then he spent six of his young years as a refugee in Jordan before the family was accepted into New Zealand in 2018.
An excellent horse rider who aspired to be a veterinarian, Hamza, 16, was compassionate and a hard-working student, said Cashmere High School principal Mark Wilson.
“Despite the fact that he hadn’t been here for a long time he had already quickly developed many friends,” he said.
His younger brother Zaed, also a Cashmere student, remains hospitalized with gunshot wounds to his leg. Their father, Khalid, also died in the attack on the Al Noor Mosque.
Mustafa, who fled the civil war in Syria with his family, was at Friday’s Al Noor service with his two sons, 16-year-old Hamza and 13-year-old Zaed.
He died, along with Hamza, while Zaed remains hospitalized with gunshot wounds.
Mustafa’s wife, Salwa, told Radio New Zealand that when the family asked about New Zealand before they were accepted in July 2018, they were told “it’s the safest country in the world, the most wonderful country you can go … you will start a very wonderful life there. But it wasn’t.”
Omar, a former Cashmere High School student from 2008 to 2012, was also among those who died, principal Mark Wilson said.