Ex-NED student killed in drone strike was expelled in 2008



Among the three militants killed in a drone strike in Miramshah, one of them was a former student of the NED University of Engineering and Technology in Karachi who was expelled in 2008.

On November 29, a drone attack at a residential compound in the tribal areas had killed three suspects allegedly associated with the Punjabi Taliban and injured another one.

The one from Karachi’s NED University was identified as Abdur Rehman, who, the varsity administration says, was kicked out of the prestigious engineering university over attedance issues. The varsity’s admissions section confirmed that Rehman was enrolled in the industrial manufacturing department in the year 2004-2005 but was expelled because of continuous absence from classes in his third semester year.

According to university rules, students cannot have less than 75 percent attendance. “Rehman was always absent from class. He was served show-cause notices twice, but when he failed to come up with a satisfactory explanation he was expelled in 2008,” says Arshad Hassan, the deputy registrar.

The administration also admitted that Rehman was associated with the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) – the student wing of the rightwing Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). “He was an active member of the IJT,” recalled Javed Aziz, the university registrar.

The Jamiat, however, denied any links with the former student. “Rehman had no affiliation whatsoever with our party. The news circulating in the media is mere propaganda,” said an IJT spokesperson.

But the news of Rehman’s death first became viral over the social media, where his body was shown along with the details of his links to the NED University and Jamiat.

A former chairperson of the industrial manufacturing department’s remembered Rehman as his student. He, however, could not recall him by face, saying the name was very common at the campus.

A graduate of the department, who knew Rehman personally, said though his slain classmate never indulged in violence his activities at the campus were suspicious. “Often he would get up and leave in the middle of a lecture. The boys he often hanged out with were not university students and were much older than him. His attitude showed that studies were not his top priority,” the engineer said requesting anonymity.

“We all knew him as an activist of the IJT. He had an extremist approach to life and a very strict interpretation of Islam, a characteristic not uncommon among IJT workers,” he said. “He often told me he had been shot in the chest once. We were young boys then and it was something to boast about.”

After the class graduated, nobody knew where Rehman went. He just disappeared. “It was weird because the university has a very well-connected alumni network,” he added.

Rehman lived in Shadman Town of North Nazimabad. His funeral prayer in absentia was held at a mosque in North Karachi. His brother Abdullah Shujaat, also a student at the NED, once occupied a key position in IJT.

Not unprecedented

While the JI claims to have always supported democracy and stood by the constitution, the political Islam it promotes has often produced workers who believe in pan-Islamism and are soft on Al Qaeda’s ideology.

In 2003, one of the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks in the US – Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – was arrested from the house of a leading JI women wing leader in Rawalpinidi.

Several former activists of the JI have joined extremist groups or even formed their own. One of the most prominent among them is Jundullah, which attacked the motorcade of Karachi Corps Commander in 2004. Jundullah’s founder Atta-ur-Rehman was once a member of the party. Two more prominent suspects – Dr Arshad Waheed and Dr Akmal Waheed – were the leading figures of the JI-affiliated doctors association.

After acquittal in this case, Arshad shifted to Wana where he was also killed in a drone strike in March 2008. His brother Akmal was rearrested, this time in Abu Dhabi, for his alleged Al Qaeda connections.

All these cases and many more like them have been widely reported in the media and documented in several books focusing on Al Qaeda-linked militancy in Pakistan.

The confusion on being with or against terrorist organisations is even evident in the party’s top leadership, supported by JI chief Munawar Hassan’s recent statement declaring Hakeemullah Mehsud, the slain chief of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, a martyr.

Prof Jaffar Ahmed, the director of Pakistan Study Centre at Karachi University, believes the JI should think what it has achieved by supporting militancy. “If Maulana Maududi was alive he would have been depressed by the state of the JI. He was an academic man who tried to appeal to the educated Muslim middle class,” he said.

“Very few people [actually] know that Maulana Maududi was against the anti-Ahmadi legislation. The JI narrative changed during the time of Qazi Hussain who supported the Afghan jihad. The problem now is that the state’s policy against militants does not go with JI’s policy of pan-Islamism,” Ahmed said.

originally published here

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