Archive for December 4th, 2008

Ajmal Amir tells his story

December 4, 2008

Ajmal Amir was one of the ten people involved in attack on Mumbai, on Nov 26. He is the only one captured with the rest shot down by NSF and Mumbai police.

(Times of India, December 3, 2008)

How the lure for respectability made this impoverished laborer believe in the Jehadi cause.

  • > The 21 year old captured fidayeen was born at Faridkot Village (population 3000), Dilapur tehsil, of Okara district Punjab province, 50 km east of Multan. Family belongs to Qasai caste. Father, Mohd Amir Iman, runs dahi-puri snack cart, mother, Noori Tai, looks after ramshackle home
  • > Ajmal is one of 5 kids. Eldest brother, Afzal 25, works as laborer in Lahore lives near Yadgar Minar. Sister, Rukaiyya Husain, 22 is married in village. Then comes Ajmal. Sister, Suraiyya, 14, and brother Munir, 11, still at home.
  • > Ajmal’s poor father can’t keep him in government primary school. In 2000, 13 year old Ajmal, just past class 4, is sent to Afzal in Lahore. The brother, then 17, hardly has means to look after his young brother.
  • > Ajmal shuttles between Lahore and Faridkot. In 2005, fights with father and leaves home. Not welcome in Afzal’s house either. Stays at shrine of holy man Syed Ali Hajveri. Like elder brother, works as a laborer.
  • > Finds the work degrading. Gets attracted to petty crime. With friend Muzaffar Lal Khan, launches new career in armed robberies. On Dec 21, 2007, Bakr-Eid day, they go to Rawalpindi to buy weapons.
  • > It’s here that they run into activists of Jamaat-ud-Dawa – Lashkar-e-Taiba’s political wing – handling out pamphlets about their group. After a brief chat, duo sign up – not because of conviction but for training they might get. That, they feel, would further career in crime.
  • > Reach LeT’s base camp, Markaz Taiba. It’s here that Ajmal starts getting influenced by films on India’s “atrocities” in Kashmir, by impassioned speeches by preachers, including LeT chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed. Starts believing it might be worth sacrificing his worthless life for glory of Islam. Camp gives him sense of belongings that he never had. When he comes home during a 2-month break, finds he is suddenly treated with respect by family and community.
  • > After this break, Ajmal chosen for LeT’s basic combat course, Daura Aam. Does well and chosen with small group of 32 for advanced training, Daura Khaas, at camp near Manshera. Does well here too.
  • > Selected for high-skill marine commando and navigation training, imparted to the team of 10 fidayeen chosen to attack Mumbai. At 4:45 am, on Nov 23, Ajmal with the unit, sail off from a forlorn creek near Karachi, each equipped with AK-47s, 200 rounds of ammo and grenades.
  • > LeT military commander Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi promises Rs. 1.5 lakh (USD 3000) reward.

(end of excerpt from paper)

 

Everyone talks about the atrocious crimes the terrorists (as they call them) have committed. And I don’t mean to say they haven’t. However, no one is talking about why these people are doing this. The social fabric is not even questioned when you can see from the story of Ajmal (and I call him by his name because he is just has human as you and me) that it is strewn with lack of dignity of labor, lack of education (tied to lack of money), lack of basic family planning. Five children in today’s day and age is a recipe for disaster even in developed worlds given the escalating commodity prices and education costs. Think about the strain on a laborer father. Finally USD 3000 reward to the family is all you need to hire Ajmal and young adolescents like him.

 

My comments may seem caustic or even combative. But what are we doing about this? Quite frankly I’m tired of listening to theories on how a strategic alliances between countries can end the “war of terror” – to which India has also been inducted!

 

You can only cure something if you know the root cause.

So “what is the root cause?”

 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, please send me comments if you’d like.

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