05 August, 2021

Portrait Of A Suicide-Bomber

He's fidayeen, the youth who has martyrdom on his mind and indoctrination in his heart

Portrait Of A Suicide-Bomber
Afaq Ahmed Shah, at 17, was shy and introverted, preferring the solace of his room to the chatter of his friends. His father, Yusuf Shah, a school teacher, says he usually spent his time studying so he could become a doctor. Afaq even got himself photographed wearing a doctor's coat and a stethoscope and kept the framed picture in his room.

The youngest of three brothers, none in the family thought his behaviour had changed when Afaq started spending nights in the local mosque next door. It was good, his parents thought, that he was taking an interest in religion. They were not overly worried either when on some evenings home, Afaq would read the Quran by candlelight even when there was power. It soon became a routine—the flickering flame and the Quran, Afaq suddenly reading out aloud and crying.

Then one day, Afaq just left home. Three weeks later—on April 19, 2000—he called his father and said: "Abbu, mein jaa raha hoon (I'm leaving)." A few hours from then, the Shahs heard security vehicles screech to a halt outside their door. Their son, they were...

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