|Birth: ||Oct. 8, 1977|
New York, USA
|Death: ||Mar. 2, 2005, Iraq|
THIS LISTING IS A MEMORIAL CENOTAPH. ACTUAL BURIAL IS ELSEWHERE
The distraught family of a Queens soldier killed in Iraq made a desperate plea yesterday for the slain man's parents to be granted entry to New York for a Muslim funeral.
Spc. Azhar Ali, 27, was one of two soldiers killed Tuesday in what military officials said was a roadside ambush at an insurgent hot spot near the Iraqi airport.
The other soldier, Spc. Wai Lwin, 27, of Douglaston, was riding with Ali in the Humvee, officials reported. Both were scouts for the famous "Fighting 69th" Regiment, which has lost six New York area members since the fighting started.
In what family members and a city councilman described as an insensitive slight, Ali's parents, in their native Pakistan, never knew that their son was killed until late last week, well beyond the 24-hour period in which Muslims must be buried.
"At least, what this country, this government can do for us is to get his family here," said Sunny Sharif, 25, Ali's cousin. "The death he had is not pleasant, of course. We just want to hold his funeral as soon as possible so his soul can be in peace."
Adding to the family's grief, Ali's father, Mubarak Ali, and mother, Mushtar Begun, who live about 30 minutes north of Karachi, have faced hostility by local media and others in Pakistan who hold anti-American views, the victim's brother said.
"We wanted to take our brother's body to Pakistan, but now it's too late," said the brother, Zulfiqar Ali, 33.
"In the future, what happens, God knows," Ali added. "But right now, I just want to have the family here for the funeral."
A funeral for Ali will be held in Kew Gardens Hills, where he attend John Bowne High School high school before joining the 69th Infantry in 1998. He will be buried in a Muslim cemetery on Long Island, family members said.
"The emotional drain of losing a son is simply unspeakable," said City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), who is joining Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in helping the family. "The additional ordeals that the family has been put through are unconscionable."
Meanwhile yesterday, Lwin's family was visited a second time by two Army casualty officers who helped them plan a burial and showed them photos of military cemeteries in Pinelawn and Arlington, Va.
"It's a tough time," said Khant Lwin, the victim's younger brother. "My dad is trying to be strong for my mom right now. My mom is trying to be brave."
From our correspondent
NEW YORK - The family members of a slain US soldier of Pakistani origin are being given a run around by the authorities as they want his body be sent to Karachi for burial, according to a media report Saturday.
Azhar Ali, 27, a specialist - a junior American military rank - was killed in Baghdad Wednesday, along with a fellow soldier of Myanmar origin, when a roadside bomb destroyed the vehicle in which they were patrolling the troubled highway that runs between the airport and the Green Zone, a fortified area of government buildings. Both Specialist Ali and his colleague Wai Phyo Lwin, also 27-year-old and a specialist, are residents of News York's borough of Queens.
Neither Specialist Ali nor Specialist Lwin was married, military officials said. They said a memorial service planned for Monday at a military base in Baghdad would include an Islamic cleric and a Buddhist priest.
Specialist Azhar Ali's brothers in Flushing, Queens - his parents returned to Pakistan some years ago - reacted with disbelief to the knock at their door from military personnel whose mission was to tell them their brother was dead. The brothers had spoken with him by cellphone only hours before he died.
His brother Mazhar, 23, said Specialist Ali had asked for video games. Mazhar Ali said he had planned to send him some new titles, along with contact lenses.
The Alis said their dealings with the military since learning of their brother's death on Wednesday evening had been "problematic", the reports said. Another brother, Zulfiqar Ali, 33, said the family wanted Specialist Ali's body sent to Pakistan for burial there.
They said although they gave the soldiers at the door their father's telephone number in Karachi, he heard nothing official until yesterday. Zulfiqar said there had been a series of phone calls between military officials and the family in Queens, who reiterated that Specialist Ali should be buried within 24 hours of his death under the Islamic code. He said late Friday in Karachi, someone called and told his father to go to the United States Embassy to fill out papers. But the caller also told him that the embassy was closing for the weekend and suggested that he go there on Monday.
A telephone call to the Army's public affairs office was not returned Friday night.
The family said Specialist Azhar Ali, the second youngest of nine children, went to New York when he was 14. He graduated from John Bowne High School in Flushing and joined the military about six years ago. After 9/11, they said, he patrolled Grand Central Terminal and was sent to Korea.
A cousin, Sunny Sharif, said Specialist Ali was a quiet, dedicated soldier. If a call came for an assignment, Sharif said: "He never said no. He pulled on his pants and he was out."
Mazhar Ali said after leaving the military, his brother hoped to become a New York City police officer.
March 21, 2005
Senator Clinton Meets With Family of
Slain American Soldier Azhar Ali
Senator Clinton and Councilmember John Liu join the Intrepid
Fallen Heroes Fund in paying their respects to the family
New York, NY - Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton joined yesterday with Councilmember John C. Liu, and Arnold Fisher, Honorary Chairman of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund in meeting with the family of slain Pakistani-American soldier Azhar Ali. At the meeting, Arnold Fisher presented the family with a donation from the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, in honor of their son.
"Although there are no words to ease their sorrow, I am pleased I could meet with Azhar's family and express to them my sincere condolences. Those who choose to put their lives on the line to protect us, deserve our eternal gratitude - there is no sacrifice greater than that which was asked of Azhar and his family. He has paid the greatest price for freedom and peace and so have they," Senator Clinton said. "I am pleased that we could help in some way to bring this family to New York so that they could lay their son and brother to rest."
"I want to take this opportunity to thank Councilman Liu who has been a tremendous source of support to the family. I also want to thank Bill White, President of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and in particular, Arnold Fisher, Chairman of the Intrepid and Honorary Chairman of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and Vice Chairman of the Fisher House Foundation for his immense generosity and commitment to helping this family and all of America's military families in their time of need," Senator Clinton added.
"Azhar Ali is an American hero. He immigrated to America, he pursued the American Dream, and he died making the ultimate sacrifice defending American values and ideals. The grief that Azhar's family has suffered through is indescribable. This past week's funeral for Azhar Ali could not have been possible without the critical effort made by Senator Clinton to obtain the necessary visas and passports, as well as travel arrangements, for the Ali family; the community truly thanks Hillary. This contribution from the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund will go a long way towards healing the wounds and helping the Ali family move on," said Councilmember Liu.
Since learning the news of Specialist Ali's death, and his family's desire to come to the United States for his funeral, Senator Clinton's office has been working with the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, the Pakistani Consulate in New York and the U.S. Department of Defense in an effort to assist them.
Through Senator Clinton's intervention, Specialist Ali's family was able to gain the necessary passports and visas to travel to the U.S. The Fisher House Program generously provided financial assistance for the family to come to the United States for Ali's funeral.
The Fisher House Program is a private-public partnership that supports America's military in their time of need. The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund provides unrestricted grants to the families of military personnel who have given their lives in the current operations in defense of our country
THIS LISTING IS A MEMORIAL CENOTAPH. ACTUAL BURIAL IS ELSEWHERE
Warriors Walk Memorial
Created by: Elizabeth Olmstead
Record added: Aug 27, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 15530357