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Pennsylvania Police Search for Kidnapped Infant

A 7-month-old, now feared dead, was kidnapped during the weekend from an Upper Darby home by a man who complained that the child was "interfering with the relationship" between the infant's mother and him, police said.

Hamza Ali, born Jan. 8, was taken early Sunday by his mother's boyfriend, Ummad Rushdi, Michael J. Chitwood, superintendent of Upper Darby police, said Wednesday.

Rushdi, 30, was taken into custody at his York County, Pa., home as he tried to flee, Chitwood said. He was brought to Upper Darby and charged with kidnapping, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, interference with custody of a child, and endangering the welfare of a child, according to court documents.

Rushdi and the mother, identified in court documents as Zainab Gaal, 30, became involved with each other recently, Chitwood said.

"We don't know where Hamza Ali is," Chitwood said. "We hope Hamza is alive. We don't believe Hamza is alive." He said the investigation remained "preliminary."

Police said Gaal, Rushdi, and the baby, who were living in York, were visiting Rushdi's parents during the weekend in Upper Darby. While everyone was asleep early Sunday, police said, Rushdi left the house with the child.

Rushdi later told the mother he was taking the child to her parents' home in Maine. The mother later was told by Rushdi's brother that something "terrible" had happened to the child, and she notified police.

Chitwood said police found the brother's car near Route 30 in Columbia, Lancaster County. The FBI and cadaver dogs are searching the area, he said.

Chitwood said police believe Hamza was killed in the home of Rushdi's parents, in the 6400 block of Chestnut Street, and driven to a location near York or Columbia and buried.

Rushdi was arraigned late Wednesday and jailed on $750,000 bail pending an Aug. 19 court date.

At the large stone rowhouse where Rushdi's parents live, an older man who did not want to be identified answered the door. "This is an incident that is very tragic, and we are trying to cope with this situation with prayers," the man said.

A younger man yelled for reporters to leave, and a woman in the home shouted, "It was accident."

According to court records, Rushdi was arrested in May 2012 on charges of making terroristic threats, disorderly conduct, and possessing an instrument of crime.

Copyright 2013 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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