A Man Charged With Trying to Kill an Imam in a New Jersey Mosque Has Pleaded Not Guilty

On Monday afternoon, the 32-year-old man accused of stabbing an imam at a mosque in New Jersey pleaded not guilty to attempted murder charges. Serif Zorba was taken into custody after he was accused of stabbing Imam Sayed Elnakib of Paterson’s Omar Mosque.

According to CNN, a spokesman for the mosque, Abdul Hamdan said that Elnakib, who is in stable condition, was stabbed at approximately 5:30 a.m., as the congregation was kneeling for the first prayer of the day.

Video footage from inside the mosque reveals a congregation of worshippers seated in five neat rows. A man in a hoodie can be seen walking up from the third row, stepping over other worshippers, and then shoving his right hand into the back of the imam as he kneels in prayer.

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Man Accused of Stabbing Imam at New Jersey Mosque

As the worshipers stood up, the assailant tried to push past the group and escape out the mosque’s back exit, as shown on the video. According to a press release from the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, Zorba has been charged with attempted murder in the first degree, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose in the third degree, and unlawful possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.

Istanbul native Zorba also entered a not-guilty plea to accusations of illicit firearm possession. On Monday, a public lawyer submitted a plea of not guilty on behalf of Zorba. The culprit, his long hair obscuring his face, appeared before Judge Vincenzo Stampone of the Paterson Municipal Court in an orange jumpsuit.

A Turkish interpreter helped Zorba talk to the judges. When Stampone inquired as to Zorba’s whereabouts, Zorba said that he was currently residing in Paterson without providing an exact address. Pretrial detention has been ordered for Zorba. On Thursday, he will return to court for his next hearing.

The prosecutor’s office stated they were unable to comment further due to the continuing investigation into Zorba’s suspected motivation. The release claims that the maximum punishment for his alleged offences is about 26 years.

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