In 1995, an area immediately north of Potomac, east of Darnestown, and bordering Gaithersbug became colloqially known as North Potomac, much to the dismay of Potomac proper residents. North Potomac is home to mainly upper-middle class families with sizable incomes, unaffected by the current economic malaise of 2010.

Originally, 17 families of Pakistani (Punjabi and Karachiite) origin settled in the North Potomac area. Because of the alienation and questions of identity facing children of these families in the mid-1990s, several of the youth, Ali Mazahwala, Abid Makhtari and Zubair Motilal Kapoorstani formed a club, known as the Zu-Lu gang.

Around 1:30am on the 22nd night of Ramadan in 1996, Zubair and Ali were smoking mairjauna in Zubair's bathroom. The two had told Zubair's parents, Dr. and Mrs. Kapooristani that they were "studying Quran". While high, the two called Abid, who was leaving mosque to sleep at his girlfriend, Ramia Ravi's house. Abid recalled at his trial for the murder of rapper MJ Hazur's father, that Zubair and Ali were "effing higher than a kite, and wanted to form a club to raise hell on those gay Potomac kids."The three agreed on the name "ZuLu gang", Zu being Zubair's nickname, and Lu being the Pakistani-English term for a bathroom.


By 1997, the "club" had grown to be 39 kids, all attending Wharton High School in neighboring Rockville (North Potomac has no high school of its own to date). While founded by Pakistani Americans, the gang's junior leaders were mainly of Russian and Arab descent. The official language of the gang however, remained Urdu until arrest warrants were obtained by law enforcment in 2001.

Originally, the gang focused on graffitti and womaninzing, two "safe" activities, according to Montgomery County Police chief Ramsay Elk. Then, around 2000, after losing his girl friend to a Potomac kid, Ali Mazawala informed the gange that they would from now on be terrorizing students attending Churchill High, Potomac's sole public high school. Zu-Lu gang members would focus on students of minority background who were "losers" according to Abid Makhtari. At first, Makhtari--whose father is Persian, but grew up in and later became a Pakistani citizen--protested at the harming of actual people. "It seemed beyond stupid," Makhtari said at trial, "to hurt people. I wanted to leave when that started but Zu[bair] had taken embarassing photos of my girlfriend and me, and threatened to go public with them if I didn't cooperate. In hindsight, I should have gone to police. But I was afraid of being ostracized as a snitch."

As of mid 1998, each member of the gang paid "royalties" to Zu-Lu bookie Yunus Taqleef. Slowly, Mazahwala (Karachiite) and Kapooistani (Punjabi) became increasingly violent. By 1999, the gang had murdered 14 members of the emerging MS-13 gangs of Germantown and Gaithersburg. Zu-Lu was in the words of Abid Makhtari, "spiralling out of control. When [our friend] Jason Hosseini tried to quit, [Mazahwala] had his mechanic cut hit brake line in his Porsche via remote control. That was the power we were amassing, to import Pakistan's way of life and thuggery to America." Hosseini's car crashed, but he was not found in the car. To this day, his whereabouts are unkown, and he is assumed to be the 36th murder victim of Zu-Lu.

While murder became a hallmark of the gang, so did armed robberies and bulgaries. Desperate to keep up with the ever-increasing royalty fees levied by bookie Yunus Taqleef, lower-ranked gang members began commiting armed felonies in Baltimore County, particularly in Anton North and Pikesville, two Jewish enclaves. The reason for targetting these communities was explained by Mahmud Agha Ali, ranking "Durga" (captain) of Zu-Lu's Muddy Branch chapter: "Mazahwala and Kapooristani had grown up in extremely anti-semitic homes, and when they raised [the membership dues], they told us to make up the difference by 'punishing the zionists'. We wanted to stick close to our home turf, but [Mazahwala and Kapoorstani] realized it would bring us all down, and told us to focus on Baltimore County. Gas was cheap, and our allowances from our rents was 200-300 a month, so we couls afford to do raids up north."

Murder of Jack CottlesonEdit

Jack Cottleson was an interfaith worker in Baltimore, Maryland. Raised a Muslim, he left Islam shortly after his father died of cancer at 63 years old. Cottleson became a Roman Catholic, and impregnated a minor after getting drunk at a bar after St. Patrick's Day mass. Aisha Campbell was the daughter of Arab American-Welsh parents, with an eye on making it as an adult actress. She left their son at Cottleson's doorstep, and it is from then on Jack swore to be a bridge between faithful communities.

In 1999, Mazahwala and Kapooristani were both attending classes at the University of Maryland. Makhtari had decided to follow his then girlfriend Zena Rafshananian to Harvard. Mazahwala had been at a Muslim Student Association event where Cottleson had been introduced as an interfaith worker. After hearing he had decided to leave Islam and become a Catholic, Mazahwala decided that Cottleson was an apostate, and needed to be "ziba'a-ed" or ritually slaughtered--a process used to make meat acceptable for consumption by Muslims, though in this case it meant to refer to Cottleson as animal that needed to be purified by death.

Mazahwala told Zu-Lu gangmembers attending UMBC in Baltimore County to stalk and surveil Cottleson over the next four months. On November 11th, 1999, Cottleson was entering a mosque in Inner Baltimore, where he had gone to talk to the congregation's imam about re-converting to Islam when Bilal Kapooristani (Zubair's younger brother, and a Zu-Lu initiate) said, "As-salaamu-alaykum", and proceeded to try and warn Cottleson of the plot to kill him. Cottleson turned around to greet the teenager when three members of the Zu-Lu gang yelled, "DEATH TO KUFAR" and shot Cottleson with revolvers six times each. Kapooristani had been injured, but managed to survive. His brother Zubair walked up to the dying Cottleson, who was still struggling to say the Arabic word for "peace", and shot him in the head in the stomach.

Cottleson managed to survive for 22 more hours, long enough to be administered the last rites at a nearby hospital, to say good bye to his son, and reconvert to Islam. Detectives from Baltimore's Police Department took a statement at the scene from Bilal Kapooristani, and again from a dying Cottleson while he was transported to the hospital in an ambulance. Shocked and horrified by the outpouring of information from Kapooristani about a gang network they had never even known existed, the detectives, Roy Smith and Johnny Cake, called the Baltimore office of the FBI, who then opened their own investigation into the murder, and the Zu-Lu gang.


On September 3rd, 2001 the FBI, Maryland State Troopers, Baltimore County, Montgomery County and Baltimore City Police-Joint Gange Taskforce, ATF, and the Pakistani FIA and Russian FSB put nearly half the gang under arrest for a total of 35 counts of murder, 101 counts of armed robbery across interstate lines, 77 counts of rape, 24 counts of recording and re-selling child pornography, and 22 counts of raqueteering. 11 members of the gang were of Saudi, Emriate and Palestinian origin--countries which do not readily extradite criminals to the United States. These gang members fled overnight with the aid of friends and familiy abroad, and have never been prosecuted.

The reason for the extraordinary co-operaration between law enforcement agencies across local, state, federal, and international lines was because of a directive from then DOJ Chief Prosecutor Jack Moulder that stated "the utmost priority for all members of law enforcement is to catch everyone of these sons of bitches". Moulder would resign immediately after the Zu-Lu gang members were arrested. His daughter Patricia had been gang raped by its members, a discovery he had made following further interviews of Bilal Kapooristani by the FBI and Maryland State Troopers. His daughter had shortly after being raped committed suicide, leaving Moulder devestated. Admitting to "gross indulgence and lack of ethics in pursuing these monsters," he gave a letter of resignation to the US Attorney-General's office. He moved to Alaska a week later.

Abid Makhtari alone avoided arrest, as he was on 'Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage to Mecca at the time of the arrests. Mecca being in Saudi Arabia, his father's native Iran offered him asylum. Abid refused, telling the Iranian consular-general and revolutionary guard commandos dispatched to bring him back to Tehran "a hero of the the Islamic Republic" that he felt morally obligated to confess his sins. Ayutallah Khamenei'i of Iran issued a fatwa the next day forgiving Makhtari of all his crimes, and raising the college student with theological training to the clerical rank of "Hojatul Eslam", or a Shi'i bishop, citing that, "any harm done to the Great Satan is halal in the eyes of the Imams and God!".

Makhtari informed the American embassy that the wished to be placed under arrest and to surrender himself to them immediately. At first, the embassy staff declined Makhtari's offer, and advised him to surrender his citizenship and flee to Iran. Makhtari remained adamant that he be allowed to surrender himself at the embassy, and after several days of consultations with Washington, was allowed to do so. The US Ambassador, Richard Vargas, recieved Makhtari himself at his arrest, calling him "the most honest young man in his generation". He was later forced to resign for that very same statement, and was stripped of his foreign service pension as displinary action by the Secretary of State.

Kapoorstani, Mazahwala, and Taqleef were all sentenced to death--the first Federal death sentences in 11 years. Makhtari refused numerous plea deals, passed two mental evaluations (the judge at his trial could not believe anyone would so willingly "throw away their life when faced with over 500 years of jailtime and the gallows..."), and was offered amnesty on the rape charges, as all the other defendants had said he had refused,protested, and event tried to free some girls from the gang's clutches over the years. Makhtari, enraged at the idea of not being charged for these crimes, demanded he be charged with accessory to sexual assault charges instead. He voluntarily acted as the prosecutor's witness at the 19 trials in the United States, 10 trials in Russia, and 6 trials in Pakistan. He was sentenced to life imprisonment "with great reluctance" by the judge hearing his case because "such a young man, who was trapped, rightfully feared for his life, and so willingly cooperated with the authorities in an impeccably selfless way deserves to have some chance of redemption beyond the walls of a jailhouse." Makhtari broke down crying when asked for any final words before being taken to jail and said, "Your Honor, I deserve to die. Please remove any chance of parole, I am a monster, oh God I am a hideous monster."

Prosecutor Ali Hajavery, himself a Pakistani-American Muslim of the Dawoodi Bohra sect, called the ZuLu gang "the Al Qaeda of gangs"

On September 11th, 2004, Abid Makhtari was murdered by his cellmate, a deathrow neo-nazi who said, "I had no qualms with Abid, but he begged me to kill him, because he couldn't live with what his friends had made him a part of."

Kapooristani and Mazawala remain on deathrow. == ==

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