A banker, telecom executive, builder, all sign up to fight in Iraq

Visas uncertain, but Shia volunteers want to give their all to protect holy sites.

A group of Shias in Delhi, with their passports on Tuesday. ( Source: Express photo by Ravi Kanojia ) A group of Shias in Delhi, with their passports on Tuesday. ( Source: Express photo by Ravi Kanojia )
Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | Updated: June 25, 2014 10:04 am

A Shia organisation in Delhi claims to have registered more than 1 lakh youths to travel to Iraq to protect Shia shrines “by all means legal, just and moral”.

The volunteers — including builders, businessmen, and executives with banks and telecom companies — speak passionately about “thousands” being killed in Iraq where a Sunni insurgency is raging, but appear mostly unclear about who is responsible for the “mass murders”.

The Anjuman-e-Haideri, headquartered at the Dargah Shah-e-Mardan in Jorbagh in south Delhi, has distributed registration forms, and claims over a lakh have already signed up to protect the shrines.

While it is unlikely that these volunteers will be given visas to travel to Iraq, the Anjuman has, on its part, registered only those who have valid passports.

A volunteer who gave his name as Zeeshan Haider said, “Iraq needs our help because Shias are being tortured there. It is not possible to give a name to the torturers, because I do not know who they are. I do not know what the ISIS, is but Bhai knows everything. I am going there because it is my religious duty.”

The “Bhai” Zeeshan was referring to, a man called Hassan who said he had a building materials business, said, “The ISIS are terrorists who are also called ISIL. They are like the Taliban in Afghanistan. They are an offshoot of Al-Qaeda.”

The ISIS, or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also translated as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or ISIL, is a jihadi miltant group currently active in Syria and Iraq, but claiming a much larger area of the Levant. The ISIS is known for its brutal violence targeting mainly Shias, a reputation that led the Al-Qaeda to formally cut ties with the group, calling them “too extreme”.

Several of those who have signed up in Delhi spoke about “terrorists” and their “torture” of Shias. Hifazat Ali, who said he works for a major telecom company, said that he and his comrades wanted to “purge Iraq and humanity of terrorists”.

Ali Mirza, the chief patron of Anjuman-e-Haideri, said: “We started registrations about 10-15 days back just as tension broke out in Iraq. More than one lakh people have registered but our target is 10 lakh, which should not be difficult to get, given the commitment of the country’s 5-6 crore Shia population. We will go to Iraq under the leadership of Maulana Kalbe Jawad. He is travelling right now, but the moment he comes back we will get in touch with the Iraqi ambassador and apply for visas. Every …continued »

First Published on: June 25, 2014 3:07 amSingle Page Format
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