NEW YORK — A Brooklyn, New York, man was sentenced to life in prison May 7 for conspiracy to commit honor killings in Pakistan. This sentence follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS).
Mohammad Ajmal Choudhry, 62, received life imprisonment after a federal jury conviction for conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country, transmitting threats via interstate communications, and immigration fraud.
“Choudhry’s murderous plan was orchestrated in Brooklyn, and the deadly consequences were felt in Pakistan – but not beyond the reach of the American justice system,” stated Kelly T. Currie acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “Today, Choudhry was ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison, a fitting punishment for a man who – in the mistaken name of honor – caused two innocent people to be killed, and their bereaved family members to flee leaving behind their home and the place where their beloved family members are buried.”
“The worldwide presence and investigative capabilities of the Diplomatic Security Service enable us to work with our law enforcement partners domestically and around the world to bring criminals to justice,” said David Schnorbus, special agent in charge of the Diplomatic Security Service New York Field Office. “With this case, Diplomatic Security sends a strong message to criminals: there is no safe harbor outside the United States.”
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. Ajmal eventually escaped Pakistan and returned to the United States with the assistance of a Pakistani man, Shujat Abbas, and U.S. State Department officials.
Following Ajmal’s flight from Pakistan in early January 2013, Choudhry and members of his family in Pakistan began a several months-long campaign of threats and intimidation against Abbas’s family members, who hailed from the same village as Choudhry, to avenge the perceived blight on the Choudhry’s honor resulting from Ajmal’s and Abbas’s actions. On Jan. 26, 2013, Choudhry’s brother and other members of his family lured Abbas’s mother and father to a location just outside the village where they fired gunshots repeatedly at their car; Abbas’s mother and father managed to escape the attack unharmed, but spent the weeks that followed living in fear that they and their children would be murdered.
These fears were compounded by a threat that Choudhry communicated directly to Abbas’s father during a telephone call shortly after the shooting took place – “If our daughter will not come back to the home, we will kill all five of you. Otherwise, we will find your son and we’ll kill him. This time we shoot on your car. It was threatening, but next time we will shoot in the chest of all five of you.”
On Feb. 25, 2013, Abbas’s father and 21-year-old sister were shot and killed in the streets of their village. According to eyewitnesses, Choudhry’s brother and other relatives were observed standing over the victims, holding guns and desecrating the bodies. Choudhry foreshadowed the murders just days before they occurred when he warned his daughter during a recorded telephone call – “Now let me make it clear to you. If you don’t come back, I will kill each and every one of them.”
After Abbas’s father and sister were killed, he and the remaining members of his family living in Pakistan moved to an undisclosed location in the United States to assist the United States government in the prosecution of this case and to escape the ongoing threats of violence against them in Pakistan.