Late Thursday night, 44-year-old Muzzammil Hassan walked into an Orchard Park, New York police station and told officers his wife was dead.
Hours later, Hassan was charged with second degree murder, after officers discovered the body of his estranged wife, 37-year-old Aasiya Zubair Hassan, decapitated at the offices of Bridges TV, a Muslim cable station Mr. Hassan founded and operated.
"There has been some history," Orchard Park Police Chief Andrew Benz told WIVB News 4 New York. "I believe Mrs. Hassan, the victim, had recently filed for divorce and had served the papers on Mr. Hassan."
The Buffalo News reported Mrs. Hassan had a restraining order against her husband.
"Police say Zubair and her husband were parents to four children," the station reported. "The marital issues came to light recently with police going to the couple's Big Tree Road in Orchard Park last Friday. Apparently Zubair felt she was in danger."
"I am totally stunned," Samira Khatib, a friend of the Hassans, told Buffalo News.
"It was Aasiya Hassan who encouraged her businessman husband to launch the cable channel," the paper reported.
Police said they were still searching for the murder weapon Friday evening.
Mr. Hassan's channel, Bridge TV, was launched in 2004 with the stated goal of improving the image of Muslims in American society.
"Some speakers openly criticize Islamic extremists. An imam from Los Angeles, Sheik Tajuddin Bin Shuaib, appeared on the channel on October 8 and denounced Osama bin Laden and the September 11, 2001, hijackers," wrote Steven Stalinski in an Oct. 2006 edition of the New York Sun.
"Some guests, however, are extremists. One religious figure who appeared October 3 said Muslims have a duty to change America and to increase their numbers to 50% of the population from 2%," he continued. "He recommended that Shariah, or Islamic law, be implemented in American courts.
"During a roundtable discussion on the Arab-Israeli conflict on October 5, one participant offered a solution: 'For the Jews to leave and return to Europe.'"
"... [The] network featured Wahhabi anti-Christian and anti-Jewish sermons from Saudi TV broadcasts, including English subtitles," wrote Matthew Balan with Newsbusters, citing Stalinski.
"You might say some of the network’s past actions, culminating with this latest news, has done nothing to improve the image of Muslims in the U.S., but has only reenforced the strongest imagery about the most publicized sectors of the Islamic world," concluded Balan.
Douglas J. Hagmann, self-purported "terrorism expert" and proprietor of the "Northeast Intelligence Network" Web site, had dogged Bridge TV in the past with questions about Hassan's alleged connection to Hamas-affiliated news network al Manar. Mr. Hassan refused information and no such link was reasonably established, yet Hagmann was quick to call the murder a religious "honor killing."
Hagmann appears to be the first of what could become many claiming the murder somehow associated with Islamic faith. However, he is also accused of plagiarizing research from a right-wing talk show host. Hagmann allegedly credited information on two missing Egyptian students to his Web site's investigators, "who apparently don't even exist," wrote Debbie Schlussel.
"If the intelligence and terrorism expertise business is a matter of stealing the work of others and passing it off as your own, then I guess he's good at it," the partisan host opined.
The Muslim Education Center of Oxford takes issue with any assessment of a so-called "honor killing" which inexorably ties the act to Islam.
"MECO affirms that the primitive concept of 'honour killing' has no validity whatsoever in Islam," the group said of another so-called "honor killing" in 2005. "While it is practiced in some patriarchal cultures, it is the product of a bygone misogynistic mindset which has nothing to do with the religion of Islam. No one has the unilateral right to extinguish the life of another human being."
"There is no place for domestic violence in our religion — none," Khalid J. Qazi, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York, told Buffalo News. "Islam would 100 percent condemn it."
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