AP, Aug. 23, 2002
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan – Four times in the last four years, Bashir Butt tracked down his son at training camps for Islamic extremists in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir and begged him to come home.
On Aug. 9, police arrived at the Butts’ modest home here and told them their son Kamran, 21, was dead. He died while attacking Christians leaving a church in Taxila about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Islamabad. Three Christian nurses were killed and a fourth was mortally wounded.
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Bashir Butt, however, remembers his son as a shy boy who never caused trouble in the neighborhood and who “had a great respect for his fellow human beings.”
“We never thought that one day he would become a terrorist,” Bashir Butt said. “We never even imagined. … These cruel jihadis made him a terrorist.”
Kamran Butt was one of thousands of young Pakistani men who have been drawn in recent years into the network of Islamic extremists, known here as “jihadis,” who recruited them to fight the Indian army in Kashmir and in Afghanistan before the collapse of the Taliban last year.
They were motivated in part by religious conviction and in part by the romance of battling the nonbelievers in the name of God like the great heroes of the Muslim faith centuries ago.
Among young and impressionable men, poorly educated and with a narrow view of the world, the appeal of the jihadis is as strong as that of religious cults among spiritual youth in the West.
To Kamran’s family, however, his death seems pointless. It has left his family deeply bitter over the extremist groups.
“I hate these jihadi organizations,” said Bashir Butt, a 48-year-old widower with two other sons and a daughter. “I hate these so-called jihadi leaders. “They are the killers of my son.”
Police told the family that Kamran Butt was among four militants who hurled grenades at worshippers as they left a church at a Presbyterian hospital in Taxila after a morning prayer service.
Police said a fragment from one of the grenades pierced his heart, and he died instantly. Several people have been arrested in connection with the attack.
The father said he repeatedly tried to talk his son out of devoting his life to the extremist movement but “Kamran always politely refused my suggestions.”
According to the father, no representative of any of the country’s Islamic militant groups has contacted the family to express condolences. That’s just as well, Bashir Butt said.
“I will kill them, I will butcher them, I will make a horrible example of them if they come here for condolence,” Butt said.
Butt said he wants to visit the church where his son died to express his sorrow over the deaths of innocent people. “But I’m not sure how they will receive me,” he said.