What a strange and interesting statement. Is Schwed suggesting that Morel was acting on behalf of people in the mosque disliking the imam? Is this another faked hate crime, designed to manipulate people into thinking that they must not resist jihad terror, because doing so will result in an “anti-Muslim backlash”? This case bears close watching.
“Man Accused of Killing Imam Pleads Not Guilty,” by Chris Fuchs, NBC News, September 1, 2016:
The man accused of fatally shooting a Queens imam and his friend pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder Thursday as his defense attorney said the imam may have been killed because he wasn’t liked and suggested police may have planted evidence — a claim the New York Police Department (NYPD) denied.
Oscar Morel, 36, was arraigned in Queens Supreme Court on a five-count indictment handed up by a grand jury last week. The indictment includes one count of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder, and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the deaths of Imam Maulana Akonjee and his friend, Thara Uddin.
Morel, who denies the charges, has been held without bail since his first arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on Aug. 16. His attorney, Michael Schwed, asked Justice Gregory L. Lasak to consider granting bail since Morel was not identified in a police lineup.
Lasak rejected the request after Queens Assistant District Attorney Peter Lomp told the court there was “ample corroboration to the defendant’s involvement in this case,” including video surveillance, Morel’s own statements, and a .38 caliber Taurus revolver recovered from his home.
The gun and five discharged shell casings were found in a bag, hidden in the wall, Lomp said. A total of five shots were fired at Akonjee and Uddin, he said. The revolver was also “scientifically determined to be the gun used in this murder,” Lomp added….
The Aug. 13 double slaying of Akonjee, 55, and Uddin, 64, has sent shockwaves through the city’s Bangladeshi and Muslim communities, whose members have been calling for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown to file hate-crime charges.
Both men, dressed in religious garb, left the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque at around 1:50 p.m when Morel allegedly approached them on foot from behind, fired shots from a handgun into their heads, and sprinted away from the scene at Liberty Avenue and 79 Street in Ozone Park, prosecutors said.
Akonjee and Uddin were taken to a Queens hospital where they were pronounced dead.
Morel’s alleged motive still remains a mystery, authorities have said. A hate crime is one possibility being explored. Some in the Queens neighborhood where the men were killed have pointed to what they say are long-standing tensions between Muslims and other ethnic groups as a possible reason for the murders.
But Schwed raised a different motive, saying he’d heard from sources that it had nothing to do with a hate crime or religion.
“It has to do somewhat with the mosque itself not particularly liking the imam,” Schwed told reporters after the arraignment. “I don’t know if it’s true. That’s why I’m getting an investigator to check it out.”
About 60 feet away from Schwed outside the courthouse, members of the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque, including its president, dismissed claims of political infighting or a power struggle and praised Akonjee.
“I have no idea, I don’t know anything about it,” said Asav Uddin, the mosque president. “He’s a very honest guy.”…