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09/27/2013

HSI, Diplomatic Security Service arrest honor killing suspect in Brooklyn

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – A Brooklyn man was arraigned Wednesday on a superseding indictment charging him with conspiring to commit murder in a foreign county, transmitting threats via interstate communications and visa fraud.

The investigation of Mohammad Ajmal Choudhry, 60, was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service.

According to the superseding indictment and other court filings submitted by the government, 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.

On Feb. 25, 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. Special agents from HSI and the Diplomatic Security Service placed Choudhry under arrest in Brooklyn later that same day.

"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 United States, 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," stated Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. "We are committed to ensuring that people in the United States who export murder abroad will be brought to justice."

"There is nothing less honorable than the murder of innocent people," said HSI New York Special Agent in Charge James T. Hayes. "HSI and our global law enforcement partners work diligently crimes like these and serve justice on the predators who commit them."

"The Diplomatic Security Service is firmly committed to working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations to bring those who commit crimes to justice," said Gregory B. Starr, principal deputy assistant secretary and director, U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. "The Diplomatic Security Service’s strong relationship with our law enforcement partners continues to be essential in the pursuit of justice."

The charges contained in the superseding indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.