A man subdued and subliminally beaten by worshipers stabbed an imam on Sunday as he led morning prayers at Paterson's mosque.
Officials said that the man was identified by prosecutors as Serif Zorba (32), and was taken into custody.
According to a Passaic County Prosecutor's Office news release, Mr. Zorba had been'subdued' by congregants by the time police arrived at Omar Mosque at 5:30 a.m.
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Mayor Andre Sayegh, Paterson, identified the imam to be Sayed Elnakib. Prosecutors claimed that the 65-year-old imam sustained 'nonfatal stabbing wounds' and was taken to St. Joseph's University Medical Center.
Sikander Khan, a community member, stated that the attack occurred just after morning prayers started. A man jumped forward and repeatedly stabbed Mr. Elnakib.
Khan, a Paterson City employee, is co-chairman for the Muslim caucus in the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. He said that Elnakib had undergone surgery and was stable, but that he had suffered liver damage.
Khan stated that the attacker, who was known to others and had not been to the mosque for worship, was not an active member.
Khan stated that 'Nobody knew him'. "We don't know the motivation behind his actions."
Khan said that Khan would enter and sit alone, away from all other people. He didn't communicate with anyone. "We are extremely confused and baffled as to why he would do this," Mr. Khan said. We send our prayers to the imam and his entire family. We wish him a speedy recovery.
Mayor Sayegh visited Mr. Elnakib at the hospital on Sunday and expressed hope that he would make a full recover. The mayor responded to the attack by saying that the city would increase its presence at mosques. He stated that people don't need to be afraid of praying.
He and the prosecutors did not provide any information about possible motives.
Alaa Abdelaziz (a Paterson councilman) said that he was deeply saddened by the attack. He stated that 'as a community it is important to come together and support one another, and denounce any form of hate or violence,'
Prosecutors said that Mr. Zorba will also face weapons-related charges and will appear in front of a Paterson Superior Court judge on Monday afternoon. He faces up to 20 years in New Jersey state jail if he is convicted of attempted murder.