A New York man has been charged with conspiring to commit the "honor killings" of a family in Pakistan, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
U.S. authorities claim Mohammad Ajmal Choudhry, of Brooklyn, was plotting to murder the family members of a man he believed had helped his daughter escape from Pakistan to the U.S.
Choudhry was arraigned Wednesday on charges he conspired to murder in a foreign country, transmitted threats via interstate communications and committed visa fraud. His next scheduled court appearance is Thursday in Brooklyn.
According to federal prosecutors, Choudhry’s daughter, Amina Ajmal, was held against her will in Pakistan for more than three years by relatives at her father's orders.
During her captivity, Ajmal, an American citizen, was forced into an arranged marriage with a Pakistani national for the purpose of obtaining a U.S. visa for that individual, authorities said. Ajmal managed to eventually flee Pakistan and return to the U.S. with the help of a cousin and State Department officials.
Prosecutors say Choudhry -- who did not know his daughter's whereabouts -- threatened her in recorded telephone calls, saying he would plan the murder of her cousin if she did not return to the family's Brooklyn home.
After his daughter's refusal to return home, her cousin's father and sister were shot and killed in Pakistan on Feb. 25, according to U.S. officials. Witnesses reported seeing Choudhry’s brother standing over the bodies with a gun. Agents from HSI and the Diplomatic Security Service placed the 60-year-old 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 U.S., 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," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a press release Wednesday. "We are committed to ensuring that people in the United States who export murder abroad will be brought to justice."