Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 June 2019

Christchurch shooting: the victims of New Zealand's worst shooting

The stories of some of the people killed, wounded and missing after a gunman stormed two mosques

At the heart of a diverse Muslim migrant community in Christchurch, the shockwaves from Friday's attack that left at least 49 dead and dozens wounded have reverberated across the world, particularly the Middle East.

The majority had moved to New Zealand from countries such as Jordan, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria. Some were refugees who had fled warzones in search of safety .

The Jordanian foreign ministry said four of their citizens were killed in the attack, while the Saudi Embassy to New Zealand said one of their citizens had died.

So far, the New Zealand police have not confirmed any of the identities of those killed in the attack, but some families have announced the deaths of loved ones.

A leader in the Afghan community

Omar Nabi speaks to the media about losing his father Haji Daoud in the mosque attacks, at the district court in Christchurch, New Zealand. Reuters
Omar Nabi speaks to the media about losing his father Haji Daoud in the mosque attacks, at the district court in Christchurch, New Zealand. Reuters

Fleeing to New Zealand to escape the Soviet invasion in 1979, 71-year-old engineer Hajj Daoud Nabi became a leader in his community.

He was the president of a local Afghan association and supported other migrant groups.

He is reported to have thrown himself in front of fellow worshipers when the gunman burst in and started shooting.

"We never expected this to happen in New Zealand," Yami Nabi, his son, told The National.

"I always felt welcome here. Dad was a leader in the community."

Mr Nabi was 10 minutes late to Friday prayers, narrowly missing Friday's tragedy.

UAE executive sheltering his children

Heba Adeeb's father was shot in the back after covering her brothers inside Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand as a terror attack unfolded with a gunman killing 49 people.
Heba Adeeb's father was shot in the back after covering her brothers inside Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand as a terror attack unfolded with a gunman killing 49 people.

A UAE company executive was shot in the back as he shielded his sons from bullets fired by the Christchurch mosque gunman.

Adeeb Sami, 52, was visiting Al Noor Mosque for Friday prayers when the shooter burst in and opened fire on scores of worshippers in the deadliest gun attack in New Zealand's history.

He covered sons Ali, 23, and Abdullah, 29, who lay in a pile as they anxiously waited for the gunman to leave.

Mr Sami's daughter Heba Adeeb, 30, who lives in Dubai, said he is recovering after surgery.

“He’s out of surgery and they’re just making sure there’s no internal bleeding now,” Ms Adeeb said in an interview with The National.

Her father, who is a New Zealand national of Iraqi descent, works between New Zealand and the UAE, where he is a director for engineering company Aecom.

Ms Adeeb said her father arrived at the mosque when he and his sons heard gunshots. Immediately he jumped to cover Ali and Abdullah and protect them from the bullets, she said.

In doing so, he took one of the bullets in his back.

"He told them not to move," she said, recalling her phone conversation with her father, who has four children.

Read Adeeb Sami' story

A retired Palestinian engineer who once called the UAE home

An engineer who moved to New Zealand from the UAE was one of those killed, his daughter has said.

Ali Elmadani left the Middle East to start a new life in New Zealand in 1998. He was one of the worshippers at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, a city he considered “safe and tolerant” until it came under attack.

Maha Elmadani, a Christchurch-based graphic designer, said her father, 66, had considered New Zealand home. “[He] never thought something like this would happen here,” she told local media outlet Stuff.

"My dad always told us to be strong and patient so that's what we are all trying to do. For his sake," she added.

Ms Elmadani was travelling in Palestine, where her father was born, at the time of the attack. She was on her way back to Christchurch to be with her family and community members who were mourning Mr Elmadani. He was retired and had worked as an electrical engineer.

Abu Dhabi-born Iraqi man

Hussein Al Umari was believed to have been at the Al Noor Masjid when the shooting began. His mother, Janna Ezat, is desperately trying to locate him. Courtesy Janna Ezat.
Hussein Al Umari was believed to have been at the Al Noor Masjid when the shooting began. His mother, Janna Ezat, is desperately trying to locate him. Courtesy Janna Ezat.

An Iraqi man, who was born in Abu Dhabi and lived most of his adolescent life here, was killed in the Christchurch terrorist attacks.

Hussein Al Umari was at the Masjid Al Noor mosque, where he went every Friday for prayers, when the attack took place.

His mother, Iraqi national Janna Ezat, last spoke to her 36-year-old son on Thursday night and reported him missing Friday. On Saturday evening she confirmed he was dead.

"It is with great sorrow we came to know our son Hussein Hazim Hussein Pasha Al Umari is a martyr. Our son was full of life and always put the needs of others in front of his," she wrote on Facebook.

Mr Al Umari was born in Abu Dhabi but moved to Christchurch with his family in 1997.

Ms Ezat, who is originally from Iraq but spent 15 years in the UAE, had been at Christchurch Hospital all afternoon on Friday awaiting news of her son.

Read Hussein Al Umari's full story

The Pakistani man who tried to tackle the shooter

Relatives talk to Nadeem Rashid, second left, bother of a Pakistani citizen Rashid Naeem, who was reportedly killed along with and his son Talha Naeem in the Christchurch mosque shooting. AP
Family members of Naeem Rashid. AP

Naeem Rashid is being hailed a hero in Pakistan. The video posted by the shooter shows Rashid attempting to tackle the gunman to save fellow worshippers.

He was badly injured and taken to a hospital for treatment. Shortly after, the Pakistani ministry of foreign affairs confirmed his death along with five others, including his son.

Khurshid Alam, his brother, told the BBC that "since childhood, he used to say that you should spend your life helping others, and when you die people feel proud of you. So whatever he used to say, he did it".

Kuwati-born New Zealand goalkeeper

Kuwaiti-born Atta Elayyan, 33, was among those killed, the New Zealand Herald reported.

He was a goalkeeper for the New Zealand national futsal team – a variation of five-a-side football played on hard courts – and a key member of Christchurch's tech scene.

Elayyan was also the director and shareholder of LWA solutions, a digital design service.

A Jordanian man and his daughter among the six from the kingdom wounded

Wasseim Alsati, a Jordanian man who was shot three times, posted a video to Facebook asking for people to pray for him and his daughter.

Mr Alsati apologised for not being able to reply to all of the calls and text messages, but thanked everyone for their support.

"I am very sorry to miss your calls and text messages, I will not be able to answer any of you now," he said.

"I am just posting this video to show you I am fully okay," Mr Alsati said from his hospital bed.

Mr Alsati's daughter was also reportedly injured in the attack.

According to friends, Mr Alsati had relocated to New Zealand five years ago and works as a barber. He slept rough for his first few weeks in the country until he landed a job.

Mr Alsati was hit by five bullets, including four in the back and one in the abdomen, relatives told local media, while his daughter was hit with three bullets.

Both were initially listed in critical condition on Friday, with family members asking for prayers.

At least four Jordanians were killed and six injured in the attack, the foreign ministry said on Saturday.

The high number of Jordanians injured and killed in the attack led the Jordanian foreign ministry to send a special envoy to New Zealand on Friday to follow up on the treatment of the injured and aid New Zealand authorities in their investigations.

Jordanian social media, WhatsApp, and living-room conversations were dominated by concerns, well-wishes and stories of Jordanians injured in the attack. Many expressed fear for friends and relatives living in both New Zealand and the West in general.

A Candelit Prayer is held outside the State Library of Victoria, Australia. Getty Images
A Candelit Prayer is held outside the State Library of Victoria, Australia. Getty Images

Jordanians also shared praise and prayers for Dr Mohammed Alayan, a Jordanian who was one of the founders of the Al Noor mosque which was targeted by the attacker. Mr Alayan, according to family, often gave Friday sermons and sang the adhan call to prayer. He was praying with his son Atta when they were shot by the gunman.

The elder Alayan had migrated to New Zealand in 1992 and works as a consulting physician. He and his son both hold New Zealand citizenship, relatives told Jordanian Al Ghad daily.

According to family members, the elder Alayan, who was struck in in the shoulder, was listed in stable condition as of early Saturday but the condition of his son is still unknown.

Jordan’s King Abdullah was among the first world leaders to denounce what he called a “heinous massacre.” He directed his government on Friday to provide all support possible to Jordanians affected by the attack.

“The heinous massacre against Muslims praying in peace in New Zealand is an appalling terrorist crime,” the king said in a rare statement on Twitter. “It unites us against extremism, hatred and terrorism, which knows no religion.

“May the victims’ souls rest in peace. Our condolences to the families and our Islamic Ummah,” the king said in his tweet.

Read the full story here

Egypt confirms the names of four citizens killed

Egypt said on Saturday that four of its citizens were among the worshippers killed the mass shooting.

"New Zealand authorities confirmed [to us] the deaths of four Egyptians," the migration ministry announced on its Facebook page.

It named them as Munir Suleiman, Ahmad Gamaluddin Abdel Ghani, Ashraf al-Morsi and Ashraf al-Masri.

The Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayeb, has condemned the attacks as a "horrific terrorist attack".

The "rising rhetoric of hatred and xenophobia and the spread of Islamophobia" were to blame, he said.

Updated: March 16, 2019 08:14 PM

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