On July 4, 2016, a man blew himself up outside the US Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Earlier this week, officials there said DNA tests have revealed the bomber’s identity as Fayaz Kagzi, an Indian national and alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba operative who is suspected to have joined the Islamic State (IS) later.
Fayaz’s elder sister (name withheld on request) said, “Not that it matters, but for whatever it’s worth, it will bring us a closure. Hopefully people will stop calling us terrorists,” she said.
“Unke liye toh case ab close hua hai. Hamare liye toh kab ka close ho chuka hai (for the authorities the case is now closed, but for us it ended long ago),” Fayaz’s father, Riyaz Kagzi, said at the family’s home in Shahenshah Nagar area of Beed, Maharashtra.
The family said they have received no official communication regarding the DNA tests. “Probably now we will not be labelled terrorists. We have been battling the tag since his name cropped up in the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul case,” said Riyaz, a retired teacher.
Between 2006 and 2018, the family witnessed dramatic changes. They had to give up their old home, in Juna Bazaar area of Beed, and moved to the quiet neighbourhood of Shahenshah Nagar. Riyaz has had to contend with multiple ailments. “Since Fayaz fled, Ayaz (younger brother) has been dealing with the case — speaking to the police, being available for any investigation or interrogation — but the stress is now showing. He is currently being treated for mental disorder,” his sister said.
Like Fayaz, both siblings are also qualified teachers.
Last year, Fayaz’s niece spotted his photographs on TV. “She said with teary eyes that maamu (uncle) was on TV,” her mother — Fayaz’s sister — said. “I am not sure whether the photograph resembled Fayaz but the news was enough to cause us more grief.”
She hasn’t told her children, now teenagers, about Fayaz. They reportedly learnt through friends and neighbours that their uncle is wanted in terror cases. “I have no answer when they ask me why he is an atankwadi (terrorist),” she said.
Fayaz was allegedly the mastermind and ‘financier’ of 2010 German Bakery blast and 2012 serial blasts on JM Road — both in Pune. While Fayaz has not been shown as accused in Mumbai 2008 terror attack, officials believe he taught Hindi to the 10 gunmen.