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2 charged in murder of Elmhurst relative

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Two Elmhurst men were arraigned early last Thursday morning on murder charges in the June 7 strangulation and beating death of their relative, Arshad Mahmood, whose body was found dumped at 86-24 54th Ave., the Queens district attorney said.Mohammed Hanif, 41, and Farhan Ahmed, 22, allegedly killed the Manhattan doorman, who lived at 51-55 Van Kleef St. in Elmhurst, at about 10:30 p.m. before unloading his body and discarding his bloodied clothes, a scarf, a pipe and Mahmood's personal property in a dumpster in Elmont, according to law enforcement sources. The attack is believed to have taken place at 83-09 Dongan Ave., Elmhurst, the home of the two suspects, but in an effort to make the murder appear to be the work of robbers, the suspects allegedly partially stripped the victim and removed his personal belongings, the sources said. In fact, it was not until the next morning that the body was identified, according to a family member, after a night of frantic calls by the victim's wife, Masooda Mahmood, who was trying to locate her husband. Arshad Mahmood was allegedly involved in a romantic relationship with Hanif's wife, Zahida, that may have begun as a consensual affair but later became coercive after the woman tried to break off the relationship, according to a law enforcement source. The younger man charged in the crime, the brother of the victim's wife, stopped by the day after the murder to pay his respects to his sister, according to a cousin of the victim. The Daily News reported that an explicit video of Zahida discovered June 8 in Mahmood's work locker was key to leading police to the suspects. They were arrested in the early morning hours of June 9. The two men face up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted on the murder, weapons and evidence tampering charges filed against them in Queens Criminal Court. The men, all from Pakistan, were regular attendees of Beit ul-Rahman, a mosque in Hollis, according to a cousin of the victim. Mahmood was buried Friday morning in Washington Memorial Park in Coram, L.I., in a ceremony attended by about 175 people, according to an attendee. A member of the mosque, who did not want to be identified, said he would adhere to a Muslim tradition to avoid saying anything ill of the dead, but he noted dryly, "We are all accountable in the afterworld for our actions in this world." Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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