In April a suicide blast ripped though a shrine in Pakistan, which was packed with thousands of devotees, leaving several dead. Both bombers were schoolboys in their early teens. But one survived to tell his story about what made him want to take his life and the lives of others.
Fidai, 14, was brainwashed by the Taliban into becoming a suicide bomber because he believed he would go to paradise. He was lucky to survive because his bomb vest failed to detonate. Although, he was left nearly dead, as the explosives strapped to him ripped through his abdomen, tore off his right arm, and crippled his left arm and he could yet lose his life because of his injuries.
Now in police custody, he admits he made a terrible mistake and begs forgiveness for his deadly mission - for which his family has now disowned him.
He explained how he was led to believe, by the dogged Taliban recruiters who waited for likely young boys as they went to school, that studying was a waste of time and that killing 'infidels' would be a direct route to paradise. “The Taliban prayed all the time and read the Koran, so I thought they were good people. My heart told me to go and train with them,” the child said.
Fidai said that as many as 350 people are being trained as suicide bombers in Mir Ali, North Waziristan where they learn how to shoot, use a grenade and ultimately become suicide bombers. Those being trained include people from Punjab, while many are Uzbek, Tajik and Arab nationals, indicating the presence of foreigners’ involvement.
Speaking about the complex network, he said that “A man named Sangeen Khan travels from Waziristan to Afghanistan and picks out targets for suicide bombers while another man named Naeem instructs the bombers”. He added that “Six trained men had been sent to various districts of Punjab with explosive material for more attacks”.
Giving an account of what happened at the shrine he explained that he was told he would go Afghanistan to kill 'non-believers' but in fact was taken to another part of Pakistan with his friend and ordered to blow up the shrine. They were blindfolded for the entire journey.
According to police sources, Umar and Ali stayed at a hotel in DG Khan where the room was booked using Ali’s national identity card. They said that the investigation team had arrested the hotel’s owner and a number of its employees for interrogation. However, the DG Khan police are yet to issue a sketch of Ali, the alleged mastermind of the attack, who died in the shrine blast.
“The plan was that Ismail would blow himself up near the shrine, then I would wait and blow myself up near the ambulances when they came.” He was told to press a specific button near the area where people ‘worshipped the dead’.
He said he had no doubts at all about killing himself: “All I was thinking was that I had to detonate myself near as many people as possible. When I decided it was the right time, it was a moment of happiness for me. I thought that there would be a little bit of pain, but then I would be in heaven. I was only keener to go to heaven. I never thought about my family members during the training”. “The moment you will press the button of your suicide jacket, you will immediately go to heaven,” Fidai said Zafar, his recruiter, told him.
Here is a video of Fadai being caught just before the act:
Luckily, the bomb vest failed but even then Fadai continued to try and bring about more carnage - reaching for a grenade in his pocket.
“We had been taught that if the belt does not go off, we should kill ourselves with the grenade. There were three policemen standing close by, and I thought if I killed them too, I would still make it to heaven.”
As he attempted to pull out the pin, he was shot in the arm by police. He says when doctors and officers then tried to save him, he realized he had made a dreadful mistake.
But the young boy who said he lost his father Akbar Khan in a blast in Karachi a few months ago, apologized to the nation (see video below) and said he would work for the welfare of humanity if acquitted.
He admits he now “did a very bad thing” and has realized suicide bombing is un-Islamic. “I am ashamed of my act. We killed innocent people,” Umar told reporters, appealing to other suicide bombers to abandon such activities.
Let’s just hope he has learned his lesson, albeit the hard way, and let this be an example to others who get brainwashed into committing such inhumane atrocities in the name of religion!