New Zealand massacre victims: From a 3-year-old boy to a refugee who viewed his new country as 'a slice of paradise'

Patrick Sawer
Clockwise from top left: Mucad Ibrahim(3), Haji Daoud Nabi (71), Mr Nabi's sons Yami Nabi and Omar Nabi, who lost their father, and Sayyad Milne, 14

Some had barely started, others had already seen more than enough suffering and were grateful for the peace and security they found in New Zealand.

Together their lives were snuffed out by a far right terrorist who targeted them for their faith, shooting them in cold blood at their place of worship, in a country one of them had described as "a slice of paradise".

Daoud Nabi, 71

Daoud Nabi was the first of 50 people to die on what Jacinda Ardern, the country’s Prime Minister, would later call its “darkest day.”

Daoud Nabi, a 71-year-old who was killed in the New Zealand shootings

Mr Nabi, a 71-year-old retired engineer who migrated from Afghanistan to New Zealand following the Soviet invasion, extended the hand of friendship to his killer before he was mercilessly gunned down.

In the grisly video filmed by Brenton Tarrant, the alleged gunman, the pensioner can be heard saying “hello brother” as he greeted him at the entrance to the Al Noor mosque.

There were reports that Mr Nabi stepped in front of someone else to confront Tarrant as he approached, taking the bullets for himself.

Brothers Yama Nabi and Omar Nabi (L-R) speak to the media about their father Daoud Nabi  Credit: Getty

His son Omar, 43, said that was completely in character for his father, who made it a habit of going to the airport to greet refugees and help them begin their new lives in Christchurch.

“He’s helped everyone who’s a refugee,” he said. "Whether you’re from Palestine, Iraq, Syria — he’s been the first person to hold his hand up."

The grandfather of nine led by example, having put down deep roots in the city’s community, helping to found a mosque and becoming president of a local Afghan association.

Standing outside the court where Tarrant was charged with one initial count of murder on Saturday, Omar demanded justice for his late father, who he said had believed New Zealand to be a "slice of paradise."

Mucad Ibrahim, 3

Mucad Ibrahim, 3, who was killed at the Al Noor mosque

At just three-years-old Mucad Ibrahim is thought to have been the youngest victim of the massacre.

The toddler had gone to the al Noor mosque with his father and older brother Abdi when the family were caught up in the deadly attack.

Mucad was lost in the melee when the firing started, as Abdi fled for his life and his father pretended to be dead after being shot.

The family searched in vain for the toddler at Christchurch hospital and later posted a photograph of Mucad, smiling with Abdi, along with the caption: "Verily we belong to God and to Him we shall return. Will miss you dearly brother".

Abdi described his little brother as "energetic, playful and liked to smile and laugh a lot", confessing he felt nothing but “hatred” for his killer.

Abdullahi Dirie, 4

Barely a year older than Mucad was Abdullahi Dirie, who was photographed cradled in a man’s arms outside the mosque after being fatally shot. His father and four siblings survived the attack.

Abdullahi’s family had made their home in New Zealand after fleeing Somalia in the mid-1990s as refugees.

His uncle Abdulrahman Hashi, 60, a preacher at Dar Al Hijrah Mosque in Minneapolis, told The Washington Post: “You cannot imagine how I feel. He was the youngest in the family.”

Mr Hashi added: “This is a problem of extremism. Some people think the Muslims in their country are part of that, but these are innocent people.”

Ali Akil, a spokesman for Syrian Solidarity New Zealand, said Mr Mustafa's wife and daughter, who were not at the mosque on Friday, were in "total shock, devastation and horror".

He added: “They survived atrocities and arrived here in a safe haven only to be killed in the most atrocious way.

"They were just looking for a safe place. Unfortunately we can't claim that New Zealand is a safe place anymore."

Sayyad Milne, 14

Sayyad Milne on far right, with half sister Brydie Milne, Milne's children, and Sayyad's 15-year-old twin siblings Cahaya (sister) and Chuayb (brother) on a bush walk together last year

Among those feared killed was a sports loving teenager described by his family as "a regular, typical, Kiwi kid."

Sayyad Milne, who had dreams of playing football professionally and was looking forward to playing in a futsal tournament in Wellington in two weeks, had gone to the Al Noor mosque with his mother Noraini. She managed to flee the carnage but Sayyad was cut down as the terrorist made his way through the building.

Brydie Henry, Sayyad's half sister, said their father, John Milne, told her late on Friday night that Sayyad, 14, was last seen "lying on the floor of the bloody mosque, bleeding from his lower body".

Ms Henry said she was "devastated" by the attack and that it happened in New Zealand. "They were good people, just living good lives. It's just awful," she added.

Sayyad's sister, Cahaya, said: "He was a loving and kind brother and will be greatly missed."

Hosne Ara Parvin, 42

Hosne Ara Parvin, 42, who moved to New Zealand from Bangladesh, is reported to have leapt in front of the gunman to shield her husband Farid Uddin, taking the full force of the bullets.

Mrs Parvin, who has a baby daughter, is thought to rushed from the female section of the mosque as soon as she heard the sounds of shootings in a desperate bid to protect her husband, who was in a wheelchair.

Others feared killed were Talha Rashid, 21, college student who was killed in front of his father Naeem; Mohammad Atta Alayan, Palestinian refugee who helped raise funds to build the mosque and Haroon Mahmood, a PhD student from Pakistan, who  had two young children, a boy and a girl.

Husna Ahmed

Farid Ahmed refuses to turn his back on his adopted home, despite losing his 45-year-old wife, Husna Ahmed, in the Al Noor mosque attack. They had split up to go to the bathroom when it happened.

The gunman livestreamed the massacre on the internet, and Ahmed later saw a video of his wife being shot. A police officer confirmed she died.

Despite the horror, Ahmed - originally from Bangladesh - still considers New Zealand a great country.

"I believe that some people, purposely, they are trying to break down the harmony we have in New Zealand with the diversity," he said. "But they are not going to win. They are not going to win. We will be harmonious."

Syed Areeb Ahmed

Ahmed had recently moved from his house in Karachi, Pakistan, for a job in New Zealand to help support his family back home. On Saturday, Pakistan's foreign ministry informed his family that Ahmed was among those killed during the mosque attack.

One of his uncles, Muhammad Muzaffar Khan, described him as deeply religious, praying five times a day. But education was always his first priority, Khan said.

A relative shows the picture of Syed Areeb Ahmed, a Pakistani citizen who was killed the Christchurch mosque shooting, on his cell phone outside his home in Karachi Credit: AP

"He had done chartered accountancy from Pakistan. He was the only son to his parents. He had only one younger sister ... He had only started his career, but the enemies took his life."

Family members, relatives, and friends have gathered at Ahmed's house to express their condolences. His body is expected to arrive there in the coming days.

Farhaj Ahsan, 30

The software engineer moved to New Zealand six years ago from the city of Hyderabad in India, where his parents still live, according to the Mumbai Mirror.

"We received the disturbing news," Ahsan's father, Mohammed Sayeeduddin told the newspaper Saturday. Friends and family had been trying to reach Ahsan since the attack.

Farhaj Ahsan

Ahsan was married and had a 3-year-old daughter and infant son.

Ali Elmadani

Elmadani and his wife immigrated from the United Arab Emirates in 1998. The retired Christchurch engineer always told his children to be strong and patient, so that's what they are trying to do after the tragedy, his daughter, Maha Elmadani, told Stuff.

"He considered New Zealand home and never thought something like this would happen here," she said.

She said her mother "is staying as strong as possible. My younger brother isn't doing too well with the news."

Mohammad Imran Khan

A handwritten cardboard sign outside Mohammad Imran Khan's restaurant, the Indian Grill in Christchurch, on Sunday said simply CLOSED. A handful of pink flowers laid nearby.

The owner of the convenience store next door, JB's Discounter, Jaiman Patel, 31, said he helped the staff with the keys after the terrorist attack that claimed Khan's life.

"He's a really good guy. I tried to help him out with the setup and everything," Patel said. "We also put the key out for them when the terrorists come, and sorted it out for him."

The two were business neighbours who helped each other out when needed, he said.

"We are helping each other. It's so sad."

Junaid Mortara, 35

Javed Dadabhai is mourning for his gentle cousin, 35-year-old Junaid Mortara, believed to have died in the first mosque attack.

His cousin was the breadwinner of the family, supporting his mother, his wife and their three children, ages 1 to 5. Mortara had inherited his father's convenience store, which was covered in flowers on Saturday.

Mortara was an avid cricket fan, and would always send a sparring text with relatives over cricket matches when Canterbury faced Auckland.

Naeem Rashid, 50, and Talha Rashid, 21

As the shootings unfolded, Naeem Rashid is seen on video trying to tackle the gunman, according to Rashid's brother, Khurshid Alam.

"He was a brave person, and I've heard from a few people there, there were few witnesses . they've said he saved a few lives there by trying to stop that guy," Alam told the BBC .

Relatives look the pictures of Pakistani citizen Rashid Naeem, and his son Talha Naeem Credit: AP

Rashid's son, Talha Rashid, is also among the dead. Pakistan's Ministry of Public Affairs confirmed their deaths in a tweet .

The elder Rashid was a teacher in Christchurch and was from Abbottabad, Pakistan. His son was 11 when his family moved to New Zealand. He had a new job and planned to get married.

Lilik Abdul Hamid

The longtime aircraft maintenance engineer at Air New Zealand was killed in the Al Noor mosque when he was killed, his employer said in a statement.

"Lilik has been a valued part of our engineering team in Christchurch for 16 years, but he first got to know the team even earlier when he worked with our aircraft engineers in a previous role overseas," Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon said. "The friendships he made at that time led him to apply for a role in Air New Zealand and make the move to Christchurch. His loss will be deeply felt by the team.

Lilik Abdul Hamid 

Hamid was married and had two children, Luxon said.

"Lilik, his wife Nina and their children Zhania and Gerin are well known and loved by our close-knit team of engineers and their families, who are now doing all they can to support the family alongside our leadership team and the airline's special assistance team," he said.