Saad Aziz: the boy next door

by Sidrah Roghay

KARACHI: He was the regular boy-next-door. Saad Aziz, one of the alleged master minds of the Safoora Bus attack and murder of Sabeen Mahmud was a graduate from the prestigious Institute of Business Administration.

Aziz graduated from IBA in 2011. His friends describe him as a mild-mannered and gentle person. “I met him several times,” said his university colleague. “He was never overtly religious. A very amicable young fellow.”

At a press conference held by Qaim Ali Shah, Sindh chief minister on Wednesday, names of four alleged terrorists were revealed. One of them was Aziz, an affluent English-speaking business graduate.

He owned a high-end restaurant called Cactus at the Sindhi Muslim Cooperative Society.

“He was a client,” said A*, who handled the restaurant’s social media account. “He would come to my office. He showed no indications whatsoever of having any Islamist tendencies.”

“He was a really nice guy,” A* said, adding that everyone at his workplace was disturbed at the news.

The IBA accepted that Aziz completed his BBA from the business school. “He was a very hardworking child and passed with good grades,” said Dr Huma Baqai, a teacher at the school.

“It is troubling to know that terrorist thoughts and ideologies have also managed to affect youngsters with good education and decent parentage,” she said.

Aziz was picked up by the police on May 16 by the police at a raid at his house in Gulshan-e-Iqbal. His father was professional at a leading multi-national.

He along with three of his accomplices confessed to several high profile crimes including the attack on Jinnah University principle Debra Lobo, attack on Bohri Jamat Khanas at Hyderi and Saddar, grenade attacks on schools at Nazimabad and North Nazimabad and killing of several police and Rangers officers.

They were, alleged, to be operating a cell of 15 to 20 people like them.

The general perception of terrorists is that they breed at seminaries and belong to lower-middle-class families.

The perception is largely misconstrued. Some very notorious Islamist terrorists have attended prestigious universities.

Omar Saeed, mastermind of the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl attended the reputed London School of Economics. The man who gruesomely beheaded the Wall Street Journal journalist was picked up by the police in 2002 from Lahore.

Aymen-Alzawahiri, Al-Qaeda chief is a doctor from Egypt’s Cairo University.

In the past foreign media has often reported that several members who have joined the Islamic State are British and American students, who are either born-again Muslims or new converts.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy