By Douglas J. Hagmann
The murder trial of Muzzammil “Mo” HASSAN, Muslim TV executive accused of stabbing and decapitating his wife, is underway in a Buffalo, NY courtroom. It began with jury selection on January 10th, with opening testimony starting last week. The trial resumes today.
The following contains information compiled from witness testimony provided last week and an exclusive analysis of the historical impact these proceedings will have as American jurisprudence intersects with Islamic doctrine.
24 January 2011: The grisly process of stabbing his wife some 40 times, then cutting his wife’s head off, most likely while she was still conscious[i], while their three children waited inside the family’s minivan took a total of 47 seconds. The decapitation was so vicious and brutal that floor tiles under his wife’s body were damaged by the blade of the knife.
Security cameras at the Muslim television station Bridges TV in the Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park, New York captured the 12 February 2009 brutal killing of 37-year-old Aasiya HASSAN, the wife of Bridges TV founder and murder defendant Muzzammil “Mo” HASSAN. Police found the body of Aasiya HASSAN in a hallway. Her head was resting against a wall several feet away. Following his statements to police after the killing, Muzzammil HASSAN was charged with murder in the second degree by stabbing and or beheading.
Evidence of premeditation?
About an hour before the killing, at about 5:10 p.m. that evening, security cameras at the Wal Mart store in Hamburg, NY depict a calm Muzzammil HASSAN buying two large hunting knives, carefully and deliberately testing their sharpness on a piece of cardboard at the counter. Apparently satisfied, he bought the knives and exited the store.
According to the testimony of the clerk[ii], HASSAN acted like any other customer making a purchase. He was calm and showed no outward emotion that would indicate he was about to decapitate his wife. He then reportedly drove to the TV station, where he lured his wife under the pretense of bringing him clothes from the upscale suburban home they once shared.
It was then and there that Aasiya HASSAN took her last steps into the Bridges TV station, and the tragic last steps of her young life. What would cause someone to snuff the youthful life from this beautiful mother of three with such unspeakable horror?
An “Honor Killing?” Certainly not in America
Aasiya HASSAN had filed for divorce just six days before she was brutally decapitated. On that Friday before her murder, Muzzammil HASSAN was served with divorce papers and an order of protection from abuse, the result of a marriage and family life rife with reports of domestic violence and abuse against the now deceased Aasiya HASSAN and the couple’s three children. The proud HASSAN was now the recipient of Western legal implements of true Islamic dishonor. They were humiliating legal instruments to dissolve the outwardly happy Muslim marriage while keeping him away from his wife and their children. They were served upon him when Aasiya apparently decided she could take no more.
Each of the three children bear the scars of the reported abuse at the hands of Muzzammil HASSAN, with Aasiya’s eldest bearing the facial scar from a punch to his nose by his stepfather. He was reportedly struck by the defendant during the same argument that his sister recounted her mother being struck by HASSAN.
The couple’s babysitter also recounted how HASSAN once ran her off the road on the New York State thruway as she was driving Aasiya to the airport one morning. She also testified that she helplessly watched HASSAN drag his screaming wife across the driveway of their suburban home during one of HASSAN’s outbursts[iii].
Despite the numerous accounts of physical violence and abuse that led to the filing of the divorce, HASSAN publicly portrayed Islamic law as it relates to the family as being consistent with Western values through the Islamic television programming that ironically, was the idea of Aasiya.
Calm after the murder
Following the brutal slaying, Muzzammil Hassan reportedly walked out of the TV station and entered the family minivan. Waiting inside were the couple’s four and six year-old children, and Muzzammil’s teenage son from a previous marriage. Upon entering the van, Muzzammil allegedly handed his teenage son an envelope full of cash, and then proceeded to a nearby hotel to clean up before turning himself in to the Orchard Park Police to report the incident.
The Erie County, New York district attorney ultimately charged HASSAN with second degree murder, and publicly downplayed the act of beheading to a questioning public. Media reports at the time seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief that this murder was simply the result of old-fashioned domestic violence without any Islamic components whatsoever. It was our perception that was skewed, despite the facts and obfuscation of facts. It was the sad culmination of marriage gone bad in normal Western culture fashion, rather than under the influence of generations of Islamic culture.
The prosecution of Muzzammil HASSAN; Dancing around the elephant in the courtroom
The murder of Aasiya HASSAN at the hands of her husband is as sadly ironic as it is gruesome. The charge of second degree murder is as telling as the scarcity of national media coverage of this trial. And the current legal antics that are being played by the defendant, despite being seemingly convoluted on the surface, just might be as craftily and cunningly planned as his alleged actions on the evening of the murder.
The murder trial of Muzzammil HASSAN promises to have far greater impact to our criminal justice system than the more infamous O.J. SIMPSON murder trial in the mid-1990’s, although don’t count on it being depicted in that fashion anywhere in the national media. The ideology of honor killings and Islamic Sharia law is the elephant in the courtroom that everyone seems to be dancing around as if it were as toxic as the now infamous bloody glove in the O.J. Simpson trial.
That dance card was apparently punched on the day HASSAN turned himself in to the police and a decision was made to charge HASSAN with second degree murder.
Despite the alleged planning and premeditation, the alleged execution of the deed, complete with the brutal decapitation often associated with Islamic culture and doctrine, the subject has been treated as a mere footnote to this heinous murder.
It is the culture of domestic violence, but not Islamic domestic violence, that prosecutors are documenting in court testimony. They are deliberately sidestepping the deeply ingrained Islamic tenets that women are possessions of their husbands, and under traditional Islamic law, may be treated as such. That treatment extends to punishing their wives that includes physical beatings, and worse.
What is being kept from the public by the court and the media as well is that we are witnessing legal history being played out (and played down) in a downtown Buffalo courtroom. The prosecution appears to be suffering from the political astigmatism commonly associated with the inconvenient truths about Islamic law and Islamic family law in particular.
Currently, defendant HASSAN is watching the proceedings from a separate room through closed circuit television. His removal from the courtroom was due to his outbursts, based in part on his displeasure with his legal counsel. He has contended to the judge that he is the victim in this trial, and has made allegations of abuse at the hands of his guards at the Erie County, NY holding center where he claims to have been water boarded.
Those claims appear to match the courtroom strategy of his defense counsel, which appears to be preparing a case of physical and mental abuse – at the hands of his murdered wife. Omitting or obfuscating the Islamic justification of domestic abuse toward women in the trial of HASSAN will likely create more victims, while failing to address the root of the problem.
For live Twitter updates of the trial as it progresses, this author suggests subscribing to WBEN AM 930 reporter Steve Cichon reporting from the courthouse: Twitter Link: http://twitter.com/#!/SteveWBEN/
[ii] Testimony of WalMart sales clerk 20 January 2011
[iii] Testimony of HASSAN babysitter on 19 January 2011.