A Muslim girl whose only offense was to disdain her father’s choice of suitable mate — and who instead picked her own boyfriend — paid the ultimate price when she was killed by members of her own family.
But the killing didn’t occur right away.
No, first she was tortured and raped. And then her body was unceremoniously dumped in a suitcase.
Ain’t assimilation grand?
Almost as grand as Islam’s peaceful roots.
The Mirror has more:
Banaz Mahmod, 20, was raped, tortured and garotted in a two hour ordeal at her parents home in London before she was buried in a suitcase in the back garden
She chose a boyfriend outside of her family’s strict regime, and paid with her life by being tortured to death by her father, uncle and cousins and unceremoniously dumped in a suitcase.
Banaz Mahmod was raped, tortured and strangled with a length of plastic cord at her parents’ home in a brutal honour killing after her family felt she had “shamed” them by divorcing her arranged marriage husband and choosing her own partner.
The Kurdish 20-year-old had even heard her family discussing the plot to kill her and her boyfriend at a ‘family war council’ and had delivered a handwritten letter to police revealing the men who were “ready to do the job.”
Months later she was dead, buried several feet beneath the ground below a leaking pipe, her body bundled into a suitcase where it was left to rot.
And it was an innocent kiss outside Morden tube station in south London that was the act that would determine her death – after someone who knew Banaz and her strict Iraqi family spotted her with the man she had fallen in love with.
“What must it have been like for her getting up every morning, going downstairs and not knowing what was going to happen that day?” said crime writer Mark Billingham, who had been so affected by the case it inspired him to write novel Love Like Blood.
“She was living every minute, of every hour of every day in absolute terror.”
Banaz had drawn the ire of her family by leaving the man she had been wedded to through an arranged marriage, and finding her own boyfriend in Iranian Rahmat Sulemani. The pair were reportedly besotted with each other, texting every morning and night.
“They worshipped one another and they tried to keep apart,” added Mark. “They knew the trouble they were going to get in but they couldn’t be without one another so they would meet secretly.”
It was this meeting, outside Morden tube station in 2005, that would start off a chain of events that saw Banaz’s father ply her with brandy before, she believed, he was to attempt to kill her. It also led Banaz to record the fact she was being followed and monitored by her family, and that she had learnt of their plans to murder her on 2nd December 2005.
In a letter to police where she referred to members of her family by numbers, Banaz said she knew she was being followed and wrote: “Numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5 said they are ready and willing to do the job of killing me and my boyfriend.”
Four months later Banaz was dead. Five members of her family have been convicted of her murder – sentenced to a total of 100 years in prison. Police said more than 50 people were actually involved in the case – some in the cover up of her body and others who offered to lie for the family members arrested for her murder.
Rahmat, who had to assume a secret identity and live under police protection , once told in an interview how there was “no life” for him after Banaz’s death at 20. Last year, 10 years after the death of his girlfriend, Rahmat hanged himself.
Mark added: “It is desperately sad. You go back to the two of them meeting outside that tube station, having that kiss, and 10 years later they are both dead.
“I thought an honour killing was a father or uncle strangling a nephew, niece or daughter. I didn’t realise that it could involve quite as many people and be quite as brutal as what happened to Banaz.”
Banaz’s father Mahmod Mahmod was sentenced to a minimum 20 years and his brother Ari, the head of the family, 23 years. Mohamad Hama, 30, was jailed for at least 17 years for the killing in Mitcham, Surrey.
Mohammed Ali, 30, and Omar Hussain, 32, were also jailed for life after they were extradited from Iraq after fleeing the UK in 2006.
Old Bailey judge Brian Barker told the men when they were sentenced: “This was barbaric. For you, respect was more important than your flesh and blood.”
Mark spoke about the case on Written in Blood, which is due to be broadcast on CBS Reality and follows the case of Banaz, and how her family determined to kill her.
Born on 16th December, 1985, Banaz moved to the UK from Iraq with her family in 1995 when she was 10, along with her parents, four sisters and a brother as well as lots of extended family members. They were a typical Iraqi family, with strong views on the role of women.
She was married to a man through an arranged marriage who was 10 years older than her, illiterate and didn’t speak English. And he used to beat and rape her, repeatedly.Caroline Goode, an officer for the Metropolitan Police who worked on the case, said when one of Banaz’s sisters found her covered in bruises they confronted her husband.
“He said ‘yes, I do beat your daughter but it’s because she’s disrespectful. And yes I do force her to have sex, but only when she says no.’ The family felt that was acceptable and sent Banaz back to try harder to be a better wife to her husband.
“In her words ‘he treated me as if I was shoe’, that he could put on whenever he wanted.”
But Banaz went against the family tradition and after two years left her husband in 2005, striking up a relationship with her friend Rahmat.
Her family warned off Rahmat and the pair did their best to conceal the relationship.
Caroline, who said she is still haunted by the case, added: “A council of war was held at Ari Mahmod’s house where the decision was made that Banaz and Rahmat would both be killed. Ari Mahmod rang Banaz’s mother and her that that was going to happen. In his words ‘they are bringing shame on the family and that b**** and that b****** are going to die.”
Banaz overheard the conversation and handed her letter to the Metropolitan Police in December 2005. She contacted police five times about her family, saying she was sure they were following her. Then, on New Year’s Eve, her father took her to her grandmother’s house where he fed her brandy while wearing blue gloves, constantly telling Banaz not to look at him.
She escaped by smashing a window before collapsing in a cafe and being taken to hospital, covered in blood. She was eventually taken to hospital where she told police she was convinced her dad would kill her. Her boyfriend also recorded a chilling video of her as she lay in hospital.
At this stage Banaz had no where else to go and her family arranged to meet her in a McDonald’s in Tooting. Her dad apologised and told Rahmat he should not have listened to his brother. They promised nothing would happen to her and convinced her to go home.
But they lied.
On 22nd January 2006 Rahmat was almost abducted by two men who told him they would kill him, and Banaz. The pair went to the police on 23rd January and Banaz was due to return the next day to give a statement.
However, she never turned up. Instead she was raped and tortured by her family. Dead at the age of 20.
On 24th January 2006, Rahmat reported Banaz missing.
Her family insisted she had not gone missing and told police that they were progressive and embraced a westernised life – with their daughters free to come and go as they pleased. They suggested she had simply gone to stay with a friend.
As police searched woods and tried to question her family, doors were slammed in their faces and the family failed to follow up her disappearance. Police found no photos of her in the family home and according to Caroline Goode, officers were said to be “outraged at the lack of love.”
But it was the charging of her cousin Mohamad Hama, after he came forward to admit that he had been there when Rahmat was threatened that was to be the turning point.
As Hama was held in cells waiting to appear in court, his phone conversations were covertly recorded.
“He was callously describing the murder to a relative and they were congratulating themselves on how manly they were,” said Caroline. “And they described that murder in the most gruesome of terms.
“They had anally raped Banaz, she was vomiting she was so afraid. They had wrapped a cord three times around her neck so tightly that it was biting into her flesh. He described having his feet on her back and pulling and pulling on that cord. Can you imagine the horror of that situation?
“It took more than half an hour for her to die.”
Police were left hunting for her body, using mobile phone records to trace two family members and their frequent journeys to Birmingham. They knew she was buried in a back garden in a house with bricked up walls, but didn’t know where. They used the police helicopter that identified many potential sites, but it was when Hama asked his friend on the phone if anyone had found the body and if he had ‘put the freezer back’ over the body, that Caroline knew the site.
It was excavated and the body was found in a hole, stuffed inside a suitcase. It had been left beneath a leaking pipe, left to rot so badly that no DNA could be taken from her body.
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