A Dubai-based New Zealander of Iraqi origin took a bullet in his back while trying to protect his two sons during the devastating terrorist attack at the Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday, Gulf News has learnt.
Adeeb Sami, 52, who heads the Al Ain and Oman operations of engineering consultancy Aecom Middle East, dived over his sons Abdullah, 29, and Ali, 23, as the gunman burst into the mosque during Friday prayers and started firing indiscriminately.
Among the worshippers caught in the gunfire were Adeeb and his two sons.
“My dad is a real hero. He got shot in the back near his spine in an attempt to shield my brothers but he didn’t let anything happen to them,” Adeeb’s daughter, Heba, 30, told Gulf News in a voice choked with emotions.
Adeeb was rushed to a hospital where he underwent surgery to extract the bullet.
Heba said she has been in touch with her family and is relieved to know that her father is out of danger.
“I spoke to dad. He sounded weak and appeared inconsolable.
“My family survived the attack but many of our friends didn’t. Among the nearly 50 dead are five close family friends, including a 12-year-old boy,” said Heba, who was raised in Dubai and now is part owner of a design company.
Heba said her dad had flown to New Zealand with her mum Sana Alahar on Thursday to surprise their son and daughter on their birthday.
“Ali and Hamsa are twins. They turned 23 today [Friday]. So my parents flew down to New Zealand to celebrate the occasion. Who would have thought the celebration would turn into a national mourning?
I wonder if we will ever be able to come to terms with this terrible tragedy. It has shaken me to the core and left me numb with shock and disbelief.
My day has passed in an unrealistic blur. My phone has not stopped ringing since the news of the attack broke on TV. You get to see such things only in movies.
“To say that I am living a nightmare is an understatement. That said, I am thankful to Allah that my dad and brothers are alive. I offered sadqa (charity) the moment I heard they are safe.
I just hope that my father recovers completely and comes back home soon. His grandson is his biggest fan and is eagerly waiting for his return,” said Heba, mother of a 15 month old boy.
Meanwhile Kiwi expats in the UAE reacted to the attack with horror. Shamim Kassibawi who works for a PR company in Dubai said the sick psychopath behind the mass shootings does not represent her nation.
“New Zealand is ranked among the friendliest countries in the world. Nothing remotely close to this has ever happened in our country,” said Kassimbawi from Auckland,
Dubai based techie R.Wilson, 42, from Wellington described his country as very accommodating. “As our prime minister rightly said, New Zealand represents diversity, kindness, compassion. We are home for those who share our values and refuge for those who need it. These values cannot be-shaken by this attack,” he said.