Abdul Rashid Ghazi

Abdul Rashid Ghazi (عبدالرشید غازی; ca. 1964−July 10 2007) was a Pakistani Muslim cleric, son of Maulana Muhammad Abdullah and younger brother of Abdul Aziz Ghazi. He was descended from the Sadwani clan of Mazari tribe in the town of Rojhan at the border of southern Punjab and Balochistan.

Abdul Rashid Ghazi was killed in "intense crossfire" after Pakistani troops stormed the building he and his militants had been using. He is buried at Madrassah Abdullah, Basti Abdullah near Rojhan Mazari in Central Pakistan.

Abdul Rashid Ghazi vowed to die in his Islamabad mosque rather than surrender - a pledge he kept when he was killed in intense crossfire after troops stormed the building. Since the mosque came under siege a week before, Ghazi repeatedly said that he would rather be "martyred" than give in to the government.

Education and secular career

In his youth, Abdul Rashid Ghazi defied his father's wish that he receive formal Islamic education, because he wanted to live a normal life. Although he later enrolled at a madrassa under renewed pressure from his father, he soon ran away. He completed his MSc in International Relations from Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad in 1987-1988.. According to one of his professor, "He was a normal, moderate student who was well adjusted to a co-educational system.". After finishing this degree he obtained a job at the Ministry of Education in Islamabad, and also worked with UNESCO.

Islamic leadership role

After the assassination of his father inside the mosque in 1998, he and his brother became leaders of Jamia Hafsa and Jamia Faridia madrassas. The brothers admitted to having had good contacts with many of the wanted leaders of al-Qaeda, including Osama Bin Laden. This was in the years before the 11 September, 2001 attacks on the US, when jihad was part of Pakistan's state-sanctioned policy. Since the "war on terror" began, however, both the Lal Masjid and the Jamia Hafsa denied having had any links with organisations now banned for supporting terrorism. But they were vehement in their support for the "jihad against America" and openly condemned President Musharraf. He opposed the Pakistani government's decision to be a part of the Coalition Forces in the Iraq War, as well as Pakistan's commitment to fight terrorism.

In July 2005, Pakistani security forces tried to raid the mosque following suicide bombings earlier that month in London. The security personnel were met by baton-wielding women, who refused to let them enter the mosque or seminary compound. Authorities said the security forces were investigating a link between the seminary and Shehzad Tanweer, one of the 7 July bombers.

Parallel justice system

Under the leadership of Ghazi and his brother, the two madrassas became actively involved in challenging the writ of the government in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, setting up a parallel radical judiciary inspired by Sharia Law and instigating kidnappings and arson. On July 3, 2007, when a continued stand-off between militants barricaded in the Lal Masjid mosque and the government finally turned into a siege of the mosque and neighboring Jamia Hafsa madrassa, Ghazi refused to surrender to the security forces, instead making anti-government rhetoric through the world media.

Accusations, negotiations, and counter-accusations

The Government of Pakistan accused him of planning a terrorist attack on important government buildings in Islamabad. His name was later removed from a list of suspects.

The Pakistani government also accused him of using his students, women and children in the mosque, as human shields for his protection. The students arrested from the Lal Mosque stated that they were not taken hostage by Ghazi Abdul Rashid, in fact they were ready to embrace martyrdom for the cause of the imposition of Sharia Law.

A group of Clerics, led by Maulana Saleem Ullah Khan, including Mufti Rafi Usmani, Maulana Haneef Jalandhery and Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman Khalil, went to Lal Masjid on the night of 9th July, to negotiate a ceasefire. They stated that they had managed to negotiate a ceasefire with Abdul Rashid in which he had agreed to surrender his weapons in exchange for being allowed safe passage to his village Rajanpur, with his mother. However they accused the government of wrecking the ceasefire agreement by withdrawing the offer of safe passage. The clerical delegation then withdrew in protest, leading to a breakdown in negotiations. This resulted in the final assault on Lal Masjid.

Ghazi stated that the children and women that were at Lal Masjid were there voluntarily. He also said, an hour before he died, that there were only three people left with him, yet the operation against the militants continued long after he died. Ghazi also said that he had only legal weapons, however allegedly rocket propelled grenades, snipers, machine guns, tear gas, and other bombs were used against the military forces. The use of such weapons have not been confirmed by sources independent of the Pakistani security forces, as a complete media blackout was imposed by the Pakistani government. Ghazi however had spoken to a Television station "Geo TV", and invited the media to the mosque, fearing that, after he is dead, the government would make propaganda by producing arms that he had not possessed.

The operation has been suggested to have been done to please the United States and the United Kingdom, and to distract from concurrent political crises in Pakistan.


The Pakistan Ministry of Interior reported that Mullah Ghazi Rasheed was killed on 10 July 2007 during Operation Silence which started on 3 July 2007. His body was found in the basement of the Lal Masjid.


External links

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