Saturday, May 25th, 2019

‘Killed in our safe haven’: Families pray for survival of missing loved ones

“It’s been pretty tough, a lot of people are ringing me asking if you need help. It’s been hard at the moment, [we’ve] never dealt with this.” Mucad was “energetic, playful and liked to smile and laugh a lot,” Abdi Ibrahim said.

He said he felt ‘‘hatred’’ for the alleged shooter, Brenton Tarrant.


‘Total shock, devastation and horror’

Syrian refugee Khaled Mustafa and his family thought they had found a safe haven from death and torture when they arrived in New Zealand only a few months ago.

But Mustafa was killed while praying at the Deans Avenue mosque in Christchurch on Friday, Syrian Solidarity New Zealand spokesman Ali Akil said.

His son Hamza, who is about 16, is missing, and his son Zaid, who is about 13, is in Christchurch Hospital where he underwent a six-hour operation last night, Akil said.

Mustafa’s wife and daughter, who were not at the mosque on Friday, were in “total shock, devastation and horror,” Akil said.

They had “survived atrocities” in their home country and “arrived here in a safe haven only to be killed in the most atrocious way”.

“They were just looking for a safe place. Unfortunately we can’t claim that New Zealand is a safe place anymore.”

Shooting victim Sayyad Milne. His family is still waiting for official news.

Fears for a teen with football dreams

Christchurch shooting victim Sayyad Milne, 14, has been described as a good-natured, kind teenager with dreams of being an international footballer.

The year 10 Cashmere High School student was in the Al Noor mosque, on Deans Avenue, for Friday prayers when the attack started.

His family is still waiting for official news.

Brydie Henry, Sayyad’s half sister, said their father, John Milne, told her late Friday night that Sayyad was last seen “lying on the floor of the bloody mosque, bleeding from his lower body”.

Sayyad’s mother, Noraini, was also in the mosque but managed to escape, Henry said. The teenager has two other siblings, 15-year-old twins Shuayb and Cahaya.


“They’re all at home just waiting. They’re just waiting and they don’t know what to do,” Tauranga-based Henry said.

“Their thoughts are it’s not good news. They’re very worried.”

Henry, 42, said Sayyad grew up in Corsair Bay, near Lyttelton, where he attended primary school.
She described him as an “all-round good guy” – a sporty teenager who played football and futsal soccer.

“He’s a regular, typical, Kiwi kid.”

Henry said she was “devastated” by the attack and that it happened in New Zealand.

“They were good people, just living good lives. It’s just awful.” Sayyad’s sister, Cahaya, said her brother had dreams of becoming an international footballer. He played goalie.
He was meant to play in a futsal tournament in Wellington in two weeks, which he was “really looking forward to,” she said.

“He was a loving and kind brother and will be greatly missed.”

Janna Ezat and Hazim Al-Umari are desperately waiting for news of their son

‘We have to be strong’

Aya Al-Umari is clinging to hope that her older brother is still alive.

Hussain Al-Umari’s family haven’t heard from him since a gunman entered the Majid Al-Noor on Deans Avenue, Christchurch, shortly after 1.30pm on Friday.

Hussain, 35, was a regular at the mosque.

Aya, 33, and her parents spent hours at Christchurch Hospital overnight Friday, hoping they would learn he was among the injured.

When the names of those being treated there were read out about 3am on Saturday, Hussain’s wasn’t one of them.

His family have registered him as missing.

“We are just praying and trying to be patient,” Aya said early on Saturday afternoon.

“I feel for those who already know the fate of their loved ones. We have to be strong and stay together.”

Hussain Al-Umari (left) pictured with his mother Janna Ezat. Hussain is feared

Hussain’s family moved to New Zealand from the United Arab Emirates 22 years ago.

He had dinner with his parents on Thursday night. On Friday, after the shooting, they searched everywhere for him without luck. His car was not at his house.

On Friday night, his parents – Janna Ezat, who is renowned as an artist overseas, and Hazim Al-Umari – visited the police cordon at the intersection of Deans Avenue and Riccarton Road hoping to find out what had happened to their son.

They were comforted by the fact it was a “holy Friday” and if he was dead “he will be safe with God”.

They said Hussain had worked in the travel industry and had recently lost his job.

Floral tributes on the fence of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens on Saturday.Credit:Jason South

Desperate wait for news

Two Cashmere High School students, brothers Zaid and Hamza Mustafa, were injured in the shooting and taken to hospital.

Amir Yasir saw the shooter leave the Deans Avenue mosque and told his father, Muhammad Amin Nasir, to run.

They both fled, but Nasir was shot. Surgeons later removed three bullets from his body and were optimistic about his prospects, his son said.

Nasir is believed to be the last person shot by the gunman in the Dean Avenue area.

Syed Jahandad Ali’s wife says he’s missing after the shooting at the Deans Ave mosque in Christchurch.

Amna Ali last spoke to her husband, Syed Jahandad Ali, on Friday morning and has not heard from him since. One of his colleagues told her they had left work at 1pm on Friday to head to the Deans Ave mosque.

Zuhair Darwish’s brother, Kamel Darwish, attended the mosque during the shooting and is missing.
He said he went to the Deans Ave cordon when the incident unfolded and police directed him to Christchurch Hospital, but his brother wasn’t there, so he returned to the cordon.

Abdelfattah Qasem is feared to have been killed in Friday’s terror attack at the Deans Ave mosque.

One of the pioneers of the Muslim Association of Canterbury is among those feared dead following Friday’s terrorist attack.

Abdelfattah Qasem, 59, the association’s former secretary, has not been seen since a gunman entered the Majid Al-noor on Deans Ave.

Qasem, who was born in Palestine, was considered an elder of the Muslim community in Christchurch.

He is listed as missing online and witnesses who were in the mosque during the shooting saw him gravely injured.

Muslim Association of Canterbury president Shagaf Khan said on Saturday afternoon that police had yet to provide a list of those whose bodies remained at the mosque.


Five Indian nationals are still missing after the terror attack, the High Commission of India has confirmed.

Paramjeet Singh, second secretary consular and visa at the commission, said two other Indian nationals had been injured and were recovering in hospital.

The commission had set up help lines for friends and family of the missing and was providing support to them, Singh said.

“I’ve been receiving a continuous stream of calls from friends and family since yesterday,” Singh said.

There was no confirmed information that Indian nationals had been killed in the attack, he said.

“But as the time passes and we’re not able to find our people safe one starts thinking of the worst.

“It is tough for the families. We hope they can find their near and dear ones.”

Red Cross has started a missing persons list. There are dozens of people listed as missing from an array of countries, including India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Jordan and Pakistan.