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Muslim-Hispanic feud might be behind imam’s killing: Report

world Updated: Aug 16, 2016 00:18 IST

Members of the the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque display a police sketch of a suspect believed to have shot the mosque's imam.(AP)

The killing of a Bangladeshi-origin imam and his assistant near a mosque in New York might be the result of a feud between Muslims and Hispanics, according to a media report on Monday.

The suspect may have left behind another victim who held the clue that solved the crime, the New York Daily News quoted police sources as saying.

The suspected killer was taken into custody on Sunday night but had not been charged or identified, it said. Police officials would not confirm whether a suspect was nabbed.

Video of the horrific on Saturday afternoon murders of mosque leader Maulama Akonjee, 55, and Thara Uddin, 65, at Liberty Ave and 79th Street in Ozone Park showed the brazen crime to be a planned execution.

The killer had crept up behind the imam and his assistant and shot both men in the head from point-blank range.

But the killer might have got sloppy in his haste after pulling the trigger and hit a bicyclist with his car, sources said.

The cyclist took down the car’s license plate number and gave it to police, who began tracking down their man.

Members of an NYPD Regional Fugitive Task Force were conducting what turned out to be a “brief surveillance” of the suspect in Queens when he rammed an unmarked cop car, sources said. That’s when officers nabbed him.

Investigators questioned him on Monday, awaiting a warrant to check his home.

Sources pointed to an ongoing feud between Muslims and Hispanics in the neighbourhood, saying the shooting may have been payback after a group of Muslims allegedly attacked some Hispanics a few weeks earlier.

Police have established that at 1:50 pm on Saturday, the assassin quickly approached Akonjee and Uddin and shot them both in the head at close range. The double killing came just moments after prayers concluded at the Al-Furqan Jame Mosque.

Meanwhile, the Council on American-Islamic Relations planned to announce a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter.

Some people in the Bangladeshi Muslim community served by the mosque worry the killing of the imam and his assistant could be a hate crime.