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Muzzammil Syed HASSAN





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Beheading
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: February 12, 2009
Date of arrest: Same day (surrenders)
Date of birth: May 26, 1964
Victim profile: His wife Aasiya Hassan, 37
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Buffalo, New York, USA
Status: Sentenced to 25 years to life on March 9, 2011

Muzzammil Syed Hassan, also known as Mo Steve Hassan, (born May 26, 1964), is a Pakistani-American man convicted of murder. He was the CEO of Bridges TV (he resigned in February 2009), the first American Muslim television network broadcast in English.

He was found guilty of second degree murder for beheading murder of his wife of eight years, Aasiya Zubair on February 7, 2011.

Professional life

Muzzammil Hassan came to the United States from Pakistan at age 17, eventually graduating magna cum laude with an MBA from the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Rochester in 1996. He went on to become a successful banker in Buffalo, New York.

In 2004, his wife Aasiya prompted him to develop "an American Muslim media where her kids could grow up feeling really strong about their identity as an American Muslim." Hassan expressed belief that some moderate Muslims could not identify with the extreme stereotypes often depicted in Hollywood productions and said that such Muslims "think they are not accurately portrayed" and that "Bridges TV gives American Muslims a voice and will depict them in everyday, real life situations." The Hassans received an award for this effort from the Council on American-Islamic Relations in 2007.

Arrest for murder

In February 2009, Hassan was arrested and charged with beheading his estranged wife Aasiya Zubair. According to Orchard Park police, Hassan came to the police station at 6:20 pm on February 12, 2009, the day of the killing, and reported his wife dead. Her body was found at the TV station. Police had previously visited the Hassans' home in response to domestic incidents. They were most recently called to the residence February 6, 2009, the day Hassan was served with divorce papers and an order of protection, where it is reported he was banging on doors and even broke a window.

The divorce petition cited "violence and inhuman treatment" as the reason. Police reports indicated that Zubair stated her husband's abusive and controlling behavior had begun at least six years earlier. Muzzammil Hassan was arraigned before Village Justice Deborah Chimes and sent to the Erie County Holding Center. Sources claimed to be close to the case said hunting knives were used to commit the crime.

Reaction to arrest

Shortly after the arrest, Bridges TV posted the following notice on their website:

Bridges TV is deeply shocked and saddened by the murder of Aasiya [Zubair] Hassan and subsequent arrest of Muzzammil Hassan. Our deepest condolences and prayers go out to the families of the victim. We request that their right to privacy be respected.

At the Muslim Community Center in Amherst, New York, more than 200 gathered for early morning prayers and a funeral service for Ms. Hassan, who had been active at the center’s mosque. “She was more of a practicing Muslim” than her husband, said attendee Hassan Shibly to the New York Times, who worked for the television station with the Hassans prior to enrolling in law school. “She really believed in the cause, wanting to present her faith in an accurate light and now people are blaming her very faith for her death.”

The victim' s sister, 42-year old Asma Firfirey of the vicinity of Cape Town, South Africa, said she and her husband Amier talked to Aasiya Hassan the day of the murder. According to Asma Firfirey, she heard her sister tell Muzzammil Hassan to "calm down" and that they "could talk the following day about the divorce". According to Asma and her husband, they described hearing what sounded like her sister struggling to breathe before the telephone connection ended. Asma Firfirey has said that Hassan, whom she calls "the fat man with the evil eyes," will be more dangerous when he is released on bail.

Khalid Qazi, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York and a friend of the couple, said that Hassan "was worried about the station's future" and added "Domestic violence is despicable, and Islam condones it in no way whatever." Afshan Qureshi, a local Muslim leader and the president of an advocacy group in Rochester, New York for domestic violence victim, lamented that the community had been too quick to overlook Muzzammil Hassan's faults: "We punished the victims. People said the first marriage failed because the girl was American, the second marriage failed because the girl wasn’t patient enough and then, look, the third wife is happy. Everything is OK. The community is an accomplice in the story of Muzzammil Hassan."

Conversely, Marcia Pappas, New York State president of the National Organization for Women opined "This was apparently a terroristic version of honor killing, a murder rooted in cultural notions about women’s subordination to men." Pappas' superior, Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization of Women, stated:

Although the crime was quickly decried by Muslim groups, many talk shows and blogs used the horror of Muzzammil's act to indict an entire community -- in a way that they would never have accused the entire Christian religion because a Methodist man murdered his estranged wife in a horrible way. Three weeks ago, a Chinese graduate student at Virginia Tech cut off a female friend's head with a knife. Not a single news outlet referred to his religion.

On March 5, 2010, Hassan's attorneys announced that Hassan "isn't even a practicing Muslim and that public speculation has been unfair."

According to a former employee, in the past few years Bridges TV transformed itself into more of a cross-cultural network seeking to bridge the gap between all cultures. Most of their employees were not Muslim, the former employee said, and Muzzammil Hassan himself was not devout, neither praying nor fasting. Out of deference to his Jewish friends, Hassan expressed aversion to producing shows about Palestine. Nancy Sanders, the television station's news director for over two years, said "I just do not feel it was an honor killing. I think it was domestic abuse that got out of control." No elaboration appears for domestic vioence that would not be considered out of control.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America responded with an "Open Letter to Muslim Leaders", expressing shock and sadness at the murder, condemning domestic violence, and calling on imams and Muslim leaders to "provide support and help to protect the victims of domestic violence" and "to never second-guess a woman who comes to us indicating that she feels her life to be in danger."

Previous marriages and children

Prior to his marriage to Aasiya Zubair, Hassan was married twice before: first, to a Caucasian American woman, Janice, with whom he had two children, Michael and Sonia; second, for 13 months to a Pakistani-American Muslim woman, Sadia. According to Sadia's cousin, Zerqa Abid, both of his earlier wives filed for divorce on the same grounds of severe domestic violence and abuses.

In addition to the two children from his first marriage (ages 19 and 20), he has two children (a girl age 6 and a boy age 8) from his third marriage (to Aasiya).


A prosecutor has accused Hassan of stabbing his wife 40 times before beheading her because she filed for divorce six days before. Hassan's lawyer, Jeremy Schwartz, claims Hassan was beaten by his wife and feared for his life. Hassan initially pleaded not guilty to the charge of second-degree murder. The trial began on Tuesday, January 18, 2011. On Monday, January 24, Hassan gained permission form Judge Thomas Franczyk to represent himself after repeatedly trying to dismiss his own defense attorney, Jeremy Schwartz. Hassan did admit, however, that he had beaten his wife repeatedly between December 2007 and March 2008.

On January 24, Hassan asked for the case to be dismissed, citing lack of evidence by the prosecution. This request was denied. On the same day, text messages between Hassan and his wife from the date of the murder were released as evidence. In an unusual turn, Hassan asked to represent himself. After first denying him, Erie County Court Judge Thomas Franczyk eventually granted his request. He testified on the 27th and 28 January, with his former defense attorney Jeremy Schwartz acting as his legal adviser.

Hassan is currently incarcerated in Clinton Correctional Facility. His parole hearing date is set for October 2033.


Muzzammil Hassan gets 25 to life for beheading wife, Aasiya Hassan

By Michael Sheridan -

March 9, 2011

A Buffalo man got 25 years to life Wednesday for beheading his wife in 2009.

Muzzammil Hassan was convicted in February of the monstrous murder of his spouse, Aasiya Hassan. It took the jury less than an hour to find him guilty of second-degree murder.

The life sentence was accompanied by an order of protection to prevent the killer from contacting his two children.

"The defendant viciously killed ... and desecrated [his wife's] body because six days earlier she had dared to file for divorce," Assistant District Attorney Paul Bonanno said.

The 46-year-old lured his wife to the television studio where the couple worked on Feb. 12, 2009. He then attacked her with a pair of hunting knives, stabbed her 40 times, then severed her head.

Muzzammil Hassan's children testified during the trial that their father had been violent toward their stepmother in the past. No charges were ever brought over the abuse, despite several domestic violence calls to 911, police said.

The husband claimed as his defense that his wife was abusive toward him and that his actions were justified, claiming he suffered from battered spouse syndrome.

"The prosecution has never asked, who started it?" the killer said during his trial, WIVB 4 News in Buffalo reported. "They never asked the question, who started it? That is the core question that needs to be answered."

Muzzammil Hassan founded Bridge TV in 2004. The American-Islamic station was designed to combat the negative stereotype of Muslims post-9/11. His wife was its general manager.


Muzzammil Hassan Convicted Of Beheading Wife

By Carolyn Thompson -

February 7, 2011

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The founder of a Muslim-oriented New York television station was convicted Monday of beheading his wife in 2009 in the studio the couple had opened to counter negative stereotypes of Muslims after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan never denied that he killed Aasiya Hassan inside the suburban Buffalo station the couple established to promote cultural understanding. A jury deliberated for one hour before rejecting his claim that the killing was justified because he was long abused by and afraid of his wife.

Hassan, who's stocky and more than 6 feet tall, acted as his own lawyer during the trial. He said nothing when the verdict was read. His reaction was blocked from view by a line of sheriff's deputies and court officers standing behind him at the defense table.

The Pakistan-born Hassan, 46, had been served with divorce papers a week before his wife's body was found at the offices of Bridges TV in Orchard Park, where the couple also lived. Hassan was arrested after walking into the Orchard Park police station Feb. 12, 2009, and calmly telling officers his wife, who was slender and several inches shorter than him, was dead.

Prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable said Hassan bought two hunting knives less than an hour before the attack, parked his luxury vehicle out of view at the station and then hid in wait inside. During a 37-second frenzy that began when Hassan's wife walked through the door, he stabbed her more than 40 times in the face, back and chest and decapitated her. Surveillance video captured some of the attack inside a darkened hallway.

Curtin Gable said Hassan "went on and on about his hurt and pain."

"Think of Aasiya's hurt and pain in years of marriage and the final 30 or 40 seconds . trying desperately to fend off his two knives with her hands and possibly being conscious as he began to behead her," Curtin Gable said during a closing statement that had some jurors dabbing tears from their eyes.

Hassan spent his two-hour closing remarks describing himself as a slave to his wife's rages. He said he was let down by a domestic-violence system that refuses to recognize men as victims.

He said a "religion of patriarchy" in the domestic-violence system had "unleashed a bloodbath on American women because battered men have no legal way out."

"You're the only ones who've ever heard my side of the story after silence for 10 years," Hassan told jurors.

He said he didn't blame his wife, but her troubled childhood, for abusive behavior he called "the evil dragon."

But Hassan never produced any witnesses or evidence to corroborate his abuse claims, unlike prosecutors, who cited numerous police reports filed by his wife and her medical records to prove she was the battered spouse.

Aasiya Hassan, 37, had sought treatment for ailments including neck and back pain and early onset cataracts, which may have been caused by repeated trauma, Curtin Gable said.

When Mo Hassan killed his wife, their then 4- and 6-year-old children were buckled into car seats outside in a van along with his teenage son from one of his two previous marriages. His wife had been on her way to take them to dinner when she ran into the station to drop off his laundry.

After the killing, the two younger children were sent to live with their mother's family in Pakistan, Hassan's attorneys have said. Hassan also had a teenage daughter.

The Hassans started the Bridges TV network in 2004, saying they wanted to counter negative stereotypes and media portrayals of Muslims in a post-9/11 world and provide programming for the growing Muslim-American population. Bridges TV continues to broadcast.

In the months leading up to his trial, Hassan had explored various versions of a psychiatric defense with different attorneys, who said they would pursue an acquittal by showing the killing was justified.

But prosecutors said it was clear Hassan was a master manipulator who sought to control every aspect of his wife's life, especially after she'd filed for divorce and put his reputation at risk.

"How dare she tell him enough is enough?" Curtin Gable said. "He was not going to let that happen."

From the start, his lawyers dismissed suggestions that culture played a role in the killing.

Immediately after the wife's death, the manner in which she died prompted speculation her death was an honor killing. The practice is still accepted among some fanatical Muslim men, including in the couple's native Pakistan, who feel betrayed by their wives.

Attorney Nadia Shahram, who lectures on the effects of religion and culture on family law at the University at Buffalo, said Monday she believed "this was more than a domestic-violence homicide."

Shahram, who was in the courtroom for closing arguments, said several factors led her to believe the death was "a mix of domestic violence and honor killing," including the separation of the victim's head from her body.

"He separated the mind, which he saw as worthless, and kicked it," she said.

Hassan fired three of his lawyers and replaced a fourth with himself. He kept the fourth lawyer as an adviser, as required by law. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced March 9.


Muzzammil Hassan


This undated file photo provided by Bridges TV shows Muzzammil Hassan and his wife Aasiya Zubair Hassan of Orchard Park, N.Y., at the the Muslim-oriented television the couple ran.
(AP Photo/Bridges TV, File)



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