Police: Motive in Queens imam's slaying still a mystery

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N.J. Burkett has the report.

NYPD and New York City officials say the motive in the Queens ambush slaying of an imam and his friend remains a mystery.

"People are mystified," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "There has been a lot of investigation done, a huge task force was put together to find this individual. There has been a lot of follow-up since he was apprehended, and the motive still isn't clear. "

Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said Wednesday that an analysis of the mobile phone and social media accounts of alleged gunman Oscar Morel, 35, so far has come up empty.

Boyce said that the Morel's family and friends have told police they are baffled by the allegations.

Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee and Thara Uddin were gunned down Saturday after leaving a mosque in Ozone Park.

Some in a largely Bangladeshi Muslim community believe the slayings were a hate crime.

"The tragic deaths of these respected leaders are unknown, but many believe they are a bi-product of a growing anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment fueled largely by the rhetoric and hate mongering emanating from the current presidential election campaign," Muslim Community Network president Dr. Debbie Almontaser said. "We are here to call for an anti-violence and intolerance in all forms and encourage inclusive respectful communities, free from fear and division."

Morel is charged with multiple counts of murder, but not a hate crime. He has pleaded not guilty and denied the allegations through his attorney.

Investigators have insisted the evidence is overwhelming, having recovered Morel's .38-caliber revolver and matched it to bullets recovered from the victims.

He is being held without bail.
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