A New York City cab driver was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for orchestrating the "honor killings" of two members of a family in Pakistan who helped his daughter escape a forced marriage.
"If our daughter will not come back to the home, we will kill all five of you," Mohammad Ajmal Choudhry told one the victims in a phone call before the slayings.
Choudhry, who lived in Queens, had ordered relatives to hold his daughter Amina Ajmal, a U.S. citizen, against her will in Pakistan — where she was forced into an arranged marriage, prosecutors said.
In January 2013, Ajmal managed to return to the United States with the help of a Pakstani man, Shujat Abbas — enraging her father, who vowed revenge.
Weeks later, Choudhry's brother and other family members lured Abbas' parents outside their village and opened fire on their car.
The couple escaped, but Choudhry made it clear the feud was not over.
"We will find your son and we'll kill him," he told them in a phone call. "This time we shoot on your car. It was threatening. But next time we will shoot in the chest all five of you."
The Abbas family took to sleeping in a storeroom in the hopes that containers of wheat would shield them from bullets during an attack in the dead of night, prosecutors said.
"Every night I went to bed with fear in my mind, terrified that Ajmal's family would find Shujat or kill my parents," one of the Abbas daughters, Seemab, said in a victim impact statement. "I wept silently and asked myself, why is this world being so unfair to me and my family?"
Choudhry's daughter remained in hiding but was in telephone contact with her father and recorded their chilling conversations.
"Now let me make it clear to you: If you don't come back, I will kill each and every one of them," he said during one call.
Prosecutors say he soon made good on the threat.
On Feb. 25, 2013, Abbas' father and 21-year-old sister were shot and killed in their village, and Choudhry's relatives were seen with guns, desecrating the bodies. The rest of Abbas' family soon moved to the United States in fear for their lives.
"My father and sister were brutally killed right in front of my eyes," Seemab said later. "I can never forget that moment."
Choudhry, 62, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and other charges last June.
In a pre-sentencing memorandum, his lawyer argued for home confinement, citing his poor health and history of supporting his family. She called the conviction "an aberration in an otherwise upstanding life."
U.S. District Judge William Kuntz gave him the maximum — and blasted him as "cold-blooded."
"You were an egomaniacal force who revealed yourself to be self-absorbed and merciless in your pursuit of evil," Kuntz said.