Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


I threw baby from bridge, father tells police

A massive search for a baby believed to have been thrown into a freezing river by her estranged father will resume today.

The man, who snatched his daughter from the arms of her grandmother while the child's mother was obtaining a restraining order against him, told police he threw the baby off a bridge and into a New Jersey river.

Search teams, including boats, dogs and helicopters, scoured the area beneath the Garden State Parkway's Driscoll Bridge in Central New Jersey last night for any signs of three-month-old Zara Malani-lin Abdur, who was abducted on Tuesday.

Authorities suspended the search after dark and planned to resume today.

Acting New Jersey attorney general Paula Dow called it "an example of a horrific case of domestic violence".

Authorities say the girl's father, 21-year-old Shamsiddi Abdur-Raheem, forced his way into the grandmother's apartment on Tuesday afternoon, hitting her in the face, choking her, and forcibly taking the baby, wrapped in a blanket.

The 60-year-old grandmother, who police would not identify, chased Abdur-Raheem but was struck when she tried to stop him by throwing herself in the path of his van. She was treated at a local hospital and released.

Abdur-Raheem was arrested four hours after the abduction and allegedly confessed to police that he had tossed the child from the bridge before driving to consult his imam, who then drove him to the home of a relative who called police.

Abdur-Raheem will appear in superior court today, charged with kidnapping, attempted murder, aggravated assault and child endangerment.

The child's mother, Venetta Benjamin, who has sole custody, was in a Newark courtroom seeking a restraining order against Abdur-Raheem at the time of the alleged abduction.

Her lawyer, Mitchell Liebowitz, said the baby was snatched before the order was served.