by Aysha Qamar
Another tragic death stuns the Muslim community as a body found in a pond is identified as 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen, of Reston- Northern Virginia.
Hassanen was kidnapped and beaten to death this past weekend in Sterling, Virginia.
Reported missing between 3-4 A.M. after last being seen walking home after prayers at a mosque near Washington, police identified the teen’s body in a local pond.
“While searching, one officer saw a car driving suspiciously in the area and stopped it,” the police said. “The driver, later identified as Martinez Torres, was taken into custody as a suspect.”
A baseball bat was discovered nearby and detectives later obtained a murder warrant against Martinez Torres.
Police have charged 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres with her murder. The crime has not yet been charged as a hate crime, as motives are currently under investigation.
“I think it had to do with the way she was dressed and the fact that she’s Muslim,” Hassanen’s mother, Sawsan Gazzar told the Washington Post. “Why would you kill a kid? What did my daughter do to deserve this?” she added.
According to reports, Hassanen was headed to Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center with her friends around 3:30 A.M. They had taken a break from their prayers to go eat after which were returning to the Center, however before arriving two men with baseball bats emerged from a car and began attacking them. The group then fled believing that everyone was able to reach safety. When the friends reassembled, they realized was Hassanen unaccounted for.
“They all dispersed after the incident, and when they met back up they realized she was missing,” ADAMS board member Rizwan Jaka told Buzzfeed News.
The ADAMS mosque in Sterling, the biggest in northern Virginia, holds late-night prayers during the last 10 days of Ramadan. Hassanen was reported 1 of 5 teenagers who had left the mosque in the early hours of Sunday. The area which is normally considered safe, commonly has worshippers walk at this time of prayer.
An investigation determined she was walking outside with a group of friends when they got into a dispute with a man in a car. It appears the suspect, Darwin A Martinez Torres, 22, of Sterling, got out of his car and assaulted the victim. Her friends could not find her and police were called to help, Fairfax County Police said in a statement.
Various people were still present at the mosque at the time Hassanen went missing causing her death to further shock and terrify the community.
“People are petrified, especially people who have young Muslim daughters,” Arsalan Iftikhar, a human rights lawyer and author, told the Washington Post
The ADAMS community has released a statement regarding Hassanen’s death reading, “We are devastated and heartbroken as our community undergoes and processes this traumatic event. It is a time for us to come together to pray and care for our youth. Adams has licensed counselors on site to assist anyone in need of counseling during these difficult times.”
Various fundraising pages have been set up to support Hassanen’s family. Over $250,000 has currently been raised by supporters on LaunchGood.
According to a report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) anti-Muslim hate crime incidents rose sharply in 2015 and have increased a further 44%, from 180 to 260, in 2016.