JI loses ex-student leader to N. Waziristan drone strike
PESHAWAR, Aug 24: Jamaat-i-Islami has perhaps suffered the first drone casualty as its former student leader was killed in the US pilotless aircraft attack along with his wife near Miramshah town in North Waziristan Agency last Monday (August 20).
JI chief in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and former Senator Professor Mohammad Ibrahim Khan confirmed Raja Ahsan Aziz and his family’s association with the party but didn’t provide details.
“Raja Ahsan had been with mujahideen (holy worriers) in North Waziristan Agency since long. I don’t know more about his background,” he said.
Sources close to Raja said he had been associated with the Taliban since 2002.
Former JI chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad and other leaders of the party on Thursday rushed to Azad Kashmir and attended Raja’s funeral prayers in absentia.
According to locals, Raja was killed after a CIA-operated drone fired missiles on a house in Shna Khwara area on Miramshah-Datakhel Road on August 20. They said the house was constructed in a forest covered area adjacent to a seminary.
Raja, his wife and four people died and four suffered injures in the strike.
According to reports, Raja belonged to Mirpur in Azad Kashmir and had been living with family in North Waziristan since long.
By profession, he was engineer and completed his graduation from Mirpur Engineering University in 1996. He had served as nazim (head) of Islami Jamiat Talba, student wing of JI in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, between 1993 and 1995.
He later became member of the IJT shura (council). His father, Abdul Aziz, who had served in Pakistan Navy, was also elected president of JI, Mirpur district.
In the past, key Al Qaeda figures were arrested at the houses of the people, who were or remained active activists of JI or its affiliated bodies.
According to reports, Al Qaeda top leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was arrested at the house of former JI leader Farzana Qudoos in Rawalpindi, while two Al Qaeda suspects were taken into custody during a raid on the house of JI leader in Karachi.
Qazi Hussain insisted that Raja was not member of the party though his father, Abdul Aziz, and other family members were its very active workers.
“Raja remained in Islami Jamiat Talba long before, but presently he had no association with the party,” he said.
The former JI chief said his party considered all those killed by drones ‘martyrs’. He said it was the state’s responsibility to stop foreign aggression and provide protection to its people.
When asked what Raja was doing in North Waziristan Agency when he belonged to Azad Jammu and Kashmir, he replied: “I don’t want to go into this debate.”
However, a security analyst, who wished not to be named, said the JI-affiliated groups had sufficient presence in tribal areas, where they were playing a very active role.
He said the party disassociated itself from activists taking part in cross-border insurgency in order to avoid criticism or dispel the impression of its direct ties with such organisations.