He’s studying to be a “peaceful religious scholar,” but hey, while on break he’s got some time to join the jihad against the U.S. A glimpse inside the jihad in Pakistan from New Straits Times, with thanks to John:
AAMIR is barely 20 years old. Most of the year, he studies the Quran at a madrasah in Islamabad. But during holiday breaks, he adopts an entirely different persona from the image of the peaceful religious scholar that he is studying to be.
During these times, Aamir will be with a band of jihadist fighting the Americans in Afghanistan.
I was introduced to Aamir through my guide and interpreter, who brought me to the madrasah in a remote part of Islamabad.
It was late afternoon, and some of the students were playing football, volleyball and other games. A few were just lounging about on the grass.
They were all wearing kurtas “” the traditional dress for Pakistani men. Many of them also wore skull caps as they played games.
The boys seemed happy to meet a fellow Muslim from Malaysia. One of them had ambitions of going to Malaysia or Saudi Arabia to work after obtaining his certificate.
Aamir, like many Pakistanis, felt strongly about the presence of Americans in Afghanistan. The Afghan people have very much in common with the people from the northern regions of Pakistan, even speaking the same language that Aamir uses in his village.
He said Muslims who went to fight the invaders of Afghanistan were fighting a holy war, and that dying there was to die syahid, or as a martyr. He himself had made the journey twice.
He claimed he had once hit an American helicopter with a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher, but did not know if it went down because after firing it, he ran off immediately.
Young men like Aamir are common in Pakistan. Being a jihadist is regarded as an adventure that many of the youths here are reluctant to miss.
Between 1994 and 1999, it was estimated between 80,000 and 100,000 Pakistani men fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Pakistan Government was sympathetic with the Taliban regime during its rise in the 1990s, regarding it as a strategic advantage.
Islamabad was the first to recognise the Taliban regime, and even though official support for the Taliban has ended since Sept 11 “” replaced with official support for the American war on terrorism “” many ordinary Pakistanis still sympathise with the Afghans.
These men are often from madrasahs and some have received military training. They are armed with Chinese- and Russian-made weapons which are easily available “” almost every household here has a gun of some sort. Many have assault rifles while others even have heavy weapons like rocket launchers in their closets.
The men who wish to go to jihad ride buses to the Afghanistan border, while their supplies and weapons are carried on donkeys through the mountains.
Upon reaching the border, they equip themselves and cross the porous Durand line to join hands with the Afghans in ambushing American troops.