Headless murder victims worry New Jersey immigrant community

crime | Feb 26, 2013 | By Martin Barillas

A bizarre and gruesome murder case in New Jersey has law officers in the Garden State scratching their heads. Yusuf Ibrahim, a 27-year-old residing in Jersey City , is charged with the murder of two other men from Jersey City on Feb. 5, possibly over a disputed Mercedes Benz automobile. It was on Feb. 7, after responding to a report of suspicious activity in Buena Vista Township, that police uncovered the bodies buried in a shallow grave while their severed hands and heads were nearby.  It was on Feb. 11 that New Jersey State Police announced Ibrahim’s arrest.

Police identified one the victims, Hanny F. Tawadros, 25, after notifying his next of kin. A local newspaper identified the second victim as Amgad A. Konds, 27. Both were foreign nationals. The alleged murderer is a native of Indiana.
New Jersey police discovered upon investigation that Ibrahim had fled to Pennsylvania and attempted to torch the stolen Mercedes Benz that had belong to one of the victims. It was in Philadelphia that he was prevented from destroying the car by police, but managed to escape in another vehicle.  He was arrested after being traced to an apartment in Bayonne NJ. Ibrahim now faces two counts of murder and two counts of desecration of human remains. He is being held on $3 million bail and has retained legal counsel. The New Jersey State Police have not released details about possible motives in Ibrahim’s case. However, police described Ibrahim as “ruthless” and “calculating” and belonging behind bars.
There was no apparent relationship between Ibrahim and the deceased other than a casual association. Ibrahim was already wanted in Atlantic County NJ for armed robbery and wounding a man with a handgun. He was never apprehended for the September 20, 2012 robbery, but has been charged with armed robbery and two weapons offenses. Ibrahim’s victim in that case was a 19-year-old man who was walking home from a pizzeria when he was approached by Ibrahim. When the victim refused to turn over the contents of his pockets, according to a police report, Ibrahim allegedly shot him in a foot.
Members of the Coptic Orthodox community in New Jersey expressed shock at the brutal murders and desecration. "It's a shock, something like this doesn't happen to people like that," one resident reportedly said. No one in the community appeared to know a motive for the horrors. "It was crazy what happened to these two. Do they deserve it? No. Was it expected? Never. And it's just sad," a resident said.
However, members of the close-knit Coptic Orthodox community are hoping that police will be able to crack the mystery of Ibrahim’s deathly motives.  Some wonder, privately, whether the murder may have been motivated by intolerance of their religion. A friend of the one victims said he will leave it in the hands of the police as they continue to investigate. 
Many Coptic Orthodox Christians hail from Egypt, where Christians have been present since the onset of Christianity. As a minority in a Muslim-minority country, they have been suffering increasing persecution at the hands of Muslim extremists who have killed scores of Christians with bombings and incinerations of churches and community centers, especially since the onset of the so-called Arab Spring.



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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