UAE executive's son: 'My Dad took a bullet for me'

When the shooting began in Al Noor Mosque, Ali Adeeb's father shielded him from the bullets

Ali Adeeb's father jumped in front of him and shielded his two sons as the gunman approached. Courtesy Ali Adeeb. 
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Ali Adeeb owes his life to his father.

When the gunman burst into the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on Friday and began shooting, Adeeb Sami, 52, flung himself over his two sons.

He was shot in the back as he tried to protect Abdullah, 29, and Ali, on his 23rd birthday.

"My Dad took a bullet for me," Mr Adeeb told The National from Christchurch.

"As soon as the speech started, the shooting started a few minutes after. My first thought was for my Dad. I was trying to find my Dad and if I died at least I died with him."

Mr Sami tried to shelter his two sons, as the shooter took aim at those lying on the floor. While doing so, he took one of the bullets in his back, which narrowly missed his spine.

Mr Adeeb doesn't know how long the shooting lasted but believed it was about 10 minutes, in which time the attacker had to return to his cmar as his gun overheated.

"Honestly, it was all a blur," he said. "I called the cops twice, once at 1.49pm and once at 1.52pm."

New Zealand police have since clarified that it received its first emergency call at 1.41pm.

After the shooting stopped, Mr Adeeb and his brother were among the few in the mosque who were not wounded.

"I got up and first thing my dad tells me is, 'Take care of your mum and your sister'," he said. "It's something you don't want anyone to say.

"I just kept pressing on his wound and then the Armed Offenders Squad came in and said they needed to secure the premises."

Ali Adeeb with his family. Courtesy Heba Adeeb.
Ali Adeeb with his family. Courtesy Heba Adeeb.

Mr Adeeb said his father was still in intensive care in an induced coma, and would have more surgery in coming days.

Mr Sami is a director for engineering company Aecom and works between New Zealand and the UAE. He had been visiting Christchurch as a surprise for his twins' 23rd birthdays.

"My dad had just arrived," Mr Adeeb said. "I was on my work lunch break.

"We go to the mosque to learn how to become better human beings and learn more about our faith."

The family moved to New Zealand from Al Ain, after emigrating to the UAE from Iraq.

Al Ain had been a "beautiful, quiet city" in which to settle. "It reminds me of Christchurch."

Apart from his father's heroic actions, Mr Adeeb only remembers his friend, Hussein Al Umari, who confronted the shooter.

"Everyone was running forward and away and one of the only ones who turned to face the gunman was Hussein. He was shouting at him to get out."

Mr Adeeb said he still felt safe in his adopted homeland and was thankful for the support from the New Zealand community.

"I'm OK," he said. "It's hard to know how I'm doing. I think I'm still a bit traumatised.

"But the support that we've got from the New Zealand community has been amazing. They've just showed love.

"If anything it probably brings us closer. I will always follow my faith and do my duty as a Muslim. Hopefully everyone will be on our side a bit now."

Mr Adeeb knew many of the people who died in the mosque. One was New Zealand futsal player Atta Elayyan, who was "one of the best guys in the world, always smiling and helping".

"These guys were truly heroes in our community. They were unique and hard to find in this world."

For now, the family would remain at Mr Sami's bedside, ready for when he wakes up.

"I can't ask for a more amazing father," Mr Al Adeeb said. "I thank him every day. He's the reason I'm alive."