Archive for the ‘Lal Masjid Siege’ Category

How Ghazi brothers got hold of seminaries

There is a general misconception that the Lal Masjid clerics who are making the headlines nowadays owe their ‘glory’ to the blessings of intelligence agencies. The facts tell a different story.

It would be interesting to know how Maulana Abdullah, the late father of the Ghazi Brothers ‘maneuvered’ to get the Khitabat of Lal Masjid and Jamia Faridia. Equally interesting would be to know why masjid and madrasah were respectively named as Lal Masjid and Jamia Faridia. It was the late Field Marshal Ayub Khan, the country’s first military ruler, who got appointed late Maulana Abdullah as the prayer leader of Lal Masjid, on the advice of his spiritual guide, Pir Sahib of Deval Sharif.

Moderate-turned-militant with Kalashnikov at his bedside

As a student, teachers said he showed no signs of Islamic militancy. Now Pakistani cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi sleeps with a Kalashnikov by his bed and has vowed to die in his besieged mosque.

Ghazi’s early schooling was at a boys-only Islamic seminary but he never opted for the madrassa lifestyle until the murder of his father in 1998 turned his life upside down.

“He was a normal, moderate student who was well adjusted to a co-educational system,” Naim Qureshi, Ghazi’s teacher at the history department of Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, told AFP.

Ghazi did his Masters in History in 1987-88, and a photo of him and his colleagues still hangs on the department’s wall.

“In studies he was okay but I don’t remember his grades. I remember that he had a normal beard,” he said, comparing it with the bushy, grey, Islamist-style beard that Ghazi now sports.

His teacher said there was little sign of militancy back then. “People do change their lifestyle, after all it’s 20 years on now, but it did surprise me,” Qureshi said.

Ghazi later married into a moderate family and lived a relatively westernised life. He worked with UNESCO. “Ghazi used to share jokes, often spoke in English, moved in mixed company and was an active student,” said a university friend who asked not to be named.

His father, Maulana Abdullah, who headed the mosque, was so angry at his lifestyle that he handed over his property to his brother. But Ghazi was not unhappy, the friend said.

However, he completely changed after a lone gunman shot his father dead inside the mosque. Ghazi joined his brother, who took over the mosque in 1998 and nominated him as his deputy.

Security sources said he had close links with pro-Taliban militants and agitated against President Pervez Musharraf’s decision to back the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Colleagues said that in 2004 he survived an attempt on his life and since then had always carried a Kalashinkov with him. “You always find an AK-47 in his car, with him in the madrassa and even at his bedside,” one colleague said.


The Siege of Lal Masjid: Day 5 of Operation Silence

LiveBlog documenting Day 5 of the crack down on Lal Masjid in Islamabad. Keep posting your Comments. You can read another of our earlier posts about Operation Silence (Days 1-3, and Day 4), outside Lal Masjid!

IMB Team

July 8th 09:35 AM
A RELAXATION IN CURFEW IN G-6 WILL BEING AT 10 AM AND LAST ATLEAST 2 HOURS. Half an hour from now, G-6 will be open for outsiders and insiders access. The area around Lal Masjid however remains cordoned off to a greater extent.

Last night a lot of news came in. A leading figure in the operation passed away in the hospital. More headway was made on the southern side of Jamia Hafsa. Three loud explosions were heard as far as Rawalpindi. Unconfirmed reports claim that the operations today and yesterday have caused 250 to 300 militants’ death. There is a greater number of students inside than that which is being reported. Six escaping militants have been caught by the forces securing the parameter outside.


The Siege of Lal Masjid: Day 4 – Operations Intensify!

LiveBlog documenting Day 4 of the tragic saga in Islamabad. Keep posting your Comments. You can read another of our earlier posts about the situation as specops and other military forces assembled outside Lal Masjid!

IMB Team

7th July 11:20 PM
A for [Pine]Apple reports,

A person got hit by a bullet while having dinner at his house in F-6/1. He’s been brought to Poly Clinic. One such case in these 5 days.

7th July 11:15 PM
Residents of F-6 are hearing shots being fired from the Lal Masjid area. This is scary. They are saying its continuous firing of various guns as most of them sound different.


The Siege of Lal Masjid: A ‘Bloody Hell!’

Upon asking my friend about what was going on inside G-6 Sector and whether he was inside G-6 or not and where his family was, he had this to say,

No I am not, got the whole family out of there, yaar. It is absolutely terrible in there. The firing is only one issue. There is no electricity which means there is no water and they have cut off gas supply last night. I thought most of the people would have left by now but when I went there this morning, the neighborhood was full of people complaining about the delay in ending this mayhem.

In a war that has plagued this small section of Islamabad so badly, the only shelter these people have is their homes. Now those too have been ravaged with the maddening curfew, with all utilities like water, electricity and gas cutoff, and the inability to have a shut eye since guns and bombs go off at any random time breaking the silence… Life has come to a standstill. People in that area want to see this all played out quick and fast. They have lives, jobs, businesses and most importantly, homes to run! I hope the government takes notice of this, and realizes that now THEY are being played about by the mad man namely Abdul Rasheed, and his goons.

There isn’t any better way of describing the situation as a ‘Blood Hell!’ Have a read at another post describing this human suffering in the area. For those of you who have relatives in that area, I suggest to move them out of there and take them to another sector.

Waiting in agony outside

Attiya Bibi cries in desperation after her third failed attempt to rescue her minor daughters from Jamia Hafsa. The young widow, a mother of three minor girls, Afshan, Darakhshan and Sana admitted the girls to the seminary two years ago.

Gul Khan of village Govan Ryan, Dir, is another parent who entered inside the boundary wall of the seminary and cried out to call his daughters, Rashida, 12, and Sajida, 13, to come out and go with him. There was no reply and there was a total silence inside the seminary. However, a male voice called back telling him to go back. As he turned back and stepped out of the seminary, he was shot in the leg.

The seminary and mosque site is a scene of indescribable pain and misery. Parents and guardians of students particularly those of girls and minor boys are going through a horrifying experience. Their loved ones have been taken hostage and are used as human shields.

Abdur Rahman was an ambulance aid, who was helping a patient in the vehicle when he was shot in the elbow

The Siege of Lal Masjid: An ongoing memoir…

You must have been following up on the bloody, ruthless and queerly transparent siege that is keeping Islamabad on the front face of the media both inside and in international fronts – but let me echo the feelings of a friend who lives in the G-6[The curfew struck sad sector that accommodates the infamous “Lal Masjid”.

Please forgive the anonymity that this text proclaims.

I am a resident of G-6 sector and my house is about one km away from the mosque that is under the bloody siege. Since some days, my sector has been under a curfew. I live with sounds of bullets being fired, different voices of lal masjid people and rangers being amplified through megaphones, cries of people getting hurt, and a lot of other things.

But the aspect that I will emphasize over here is the inconvenience this is causing in my personal life. There are different, unscheduled times when the curfew is relaxed and we are allowed to go to markets. The commodities are available in mobile utility store vans but are short of demand and are expensive than what is the normal cost of them. The uncertainty in our lives of as to when the curfew will end is affecting my job routine as well, because I have not been able to go to work as well. I am most profoundly been very worried about patients who are living in our sector and how this catastrophic drama is putting more than just the people at siege, but also their hope at the disposal of incarceration.

Although I am not in the condition nor have the knowledge of what should be the actions of the people involved, but I do condemn the act of making a satirical irony of the lives of people living in G-6 and in the vicinity of G-6.

That – my friends – is the real irony.

Perceptions can be Different

These things look so nice

Curiosity is in human nature (and in cat’s too). We tend to live seeing our difficulties et al. and none so other … children perceive different angles to life. For me, at least, glimpse of army weapons, vehiclesm even army men, has been always fun. And when I saw this naive image in an online paper, couldn’t resist sharing with our readers this side of the Lal Masjid saga. Children of this age have lot to see at this tender age … she’s one alike kid. Curiosity forces her, despite curfew and battle-like situation, to have a second look in.

Words will end the hidden mesmerism in this picture ….!

Special Forces Assemble at Lal Masjid!

7th July 1:30 AM
The problem might just have exasperated by the operation as F-7 and E-7 are rocked by gun fire, and explosions. Jamia Faridia is located in E-7. Good God… help Islamabad. What the heck!!! >:X These might be the same students that were released yesterday. I fear they have regrouped and rearmed. Damn…

7th July 1:30 AM
Earlier, Ahmed reported,

Some development as reported by

ISLAMABAD: Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi Friday showed willingness to hand over 3 orphans.

It has learnt that member of MMA Shah Abdul Aziz made a telephonic contact with besieged leader of Lal Masjid extremists to know about situation of teenage students, female and male, requested for their hand over, guaranteed for their proper look after but Lal Masjid mullah imparted that there were no teenagers in Mosque as propagated by government expect three, one male and two females, could be handed over on the pledge of their proper bring up.

Later on, Maulana Aziz had informed and discussed this development with officials of Interior Ministry to hatch a mechanism for the custody of these orphans.

Mega phones being used to inform the press and media men around to move back, further, from the firing zone.

7th July 1:18 AM
SHOTS FIRED! Firing from both ends in the standoff, Lal Masjid have opened fire with the Spec Ops doing the same! Heavy firing heard from the G-6 area as far as G-10. Ambulances can be heard rushing towards hospitals. The Special Forces have made a final move in as it seems. 7.7.7 in the making!?

Dear Reader, this is a LiveBlog of the Operation Lal Deen/Silence after 3:00 AM, on 4th of July, 2007. Interviews of both the brothers Rasheed and Aziz. The beautiful Islamabad. Journalists up-front in line of their duty. The down low on the nitty-gritty. The story of Maulana Aziz mian’s arrest and who got the credit. Your thoughts? How it all began, who should have died, and who actually did! This post will stick to the top till we reach a concluding point in this tragic episode unfolding in Islamabad. You can view all the new posts from our authors on Islamabad Metroblog right below this one. Your comments are invaluable source of information and discussion. Thank you very much.
-The IMB Team

(Islamabad for outsiders – 1185 x 1032 px, 589.9 KB)


The Siege of Lal Masjid: A ‘win-win’ situation for Musharraf’s global PR

mush-1.jpgIt was apparent from the very beginning that any operation on the Lal Masjid would lead either to the extraction or the elimination of the fanatical seminaries inside. And till now, the situation remains firmly in the hands of the forces besieging the mosque. The half a victory has been claimed as one of the two radical brothers has already been caught, although quite dramatically. While the other one is putting on a show of his own, if not a burqa. What he does next can only to be speculated but there is a unanimous feeling that the younger brother will have to surrender himself to the forces. The forces that comprise of the army, the rangers, the special services groups, armored vehicles, snipers, special operations groups and various other siege weapons. Or they will capture him from the mosque by forcefully infiltrating the compound. The probability of him dying in a gun battle is equally imminent, however such a case is not wished upon anyone in this world.

With his fire-brand speeches, fatwas, and Juma sermons, Choatay Maulana Abdul Rasheed and the Maulana beraderan had earned himselves notoriety, not only at home but also in the entire world. With the help of western media, all of this was kept under wraps to a good extent. This is where one realizes that a deeper alliance, or more appropriately, friendship exists between the President and the western coalition countries. From time to time, the General has been scrutinized and poked with questions and demands for not doing more in the war on terror, but seemingly it was all a part of the circus to push Mush to take actions against rebellious factions.

This might be his moment of glory!

gun-afp.jpgGen. Musharraf, was targeted yet again as someone attacked his aircraft today minutes before it was to take him to Turbat. Fortunately the terrorist miss-timed everything and ended up revealing his position. The terrorist fled the scene (on a motorbike) where an anti-aircraft gun, and an automatic machine gun where found. Reports have it that a person has already been caught in this separate drama on the other end of the national Capital. What doesn’t come to mind of many a people like me, is the fact that this might be another setup. How? I have no idea. In the same light, a lot of our blogger friends think that the Lal Masjid crackdown is nothing but a staged operation. Even though I hate jumping to conclusions, in the context of the reasons and arguments they give, it sounds quite plausible. Of course, the first one to jump at the opportunity to appreciate someone like Pres. Musharraf taking down mullahism would be the western media. Gordon Brown facing his own share of domestic problems took time out and called up Musharraf to appreciate his efforts in the Lal Masjid saga. Seems like Mr. Gordon Brown means business when they talk terrorism in their first telephonic chit chat. Good for our boy, he is doing quite well in his class.

mush-2.jpgHe has not only been a target of public anger for mishandling the Chief Justice issue, his love for the seat and the campaign for it have also been heavily disliked. People that are sick of crisis’s like these want to see a quick end to the Lal Masjid operation; a bloodless and peaceful one. A nation that feels insulted and misused by mullahs in general especially after this showdown, are now siding with the government’s stance to eliminate the elements inside Lal Masjid one way or the other. There is a scary undertone to every voice that asks, “When are they going to execute the operation?” But the people are not to be blamed for any of this, as what has transpired was not in any body’s control. I certainly believe that when I say the fervent students of Jamia Faridia, another seminary in E-7, confronted the rangers and the police positioned at Lal Masjid. A Ranger lost his life, a girl along with a few by-standers died with in an hour of the ensuing stoning, burning, and a mindless snatch and run at the buildings near by. The building of the Ministry of Environment was attacked and burned as a sign of protest. Not only that, a government run girls school was attacked too. Hence, as clich├Ęd as it may sound, the writ of the government was being challenged and action had to be taken.

mosque5_ap.jpgCurrently, Mushy’s men have captured one of the two brothers along with scores of supporters slowly coming out of that building, the armed forces have shown exemplary restraint in not targeting anyone on purpose, and repeated calls for ‘safely surrendering’ to the authorities outside. This in turn sends a message of how in control and composed the decision makers are.

Even if he’s not liked at home, Musharraf will certainly be hailed as companion supreme in the global war against terror. Either ways, this might be a ‘win win’ situation for his global repute!

Images used with the courtesy of BBC News, AFP, and AP.

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