The Red Mosque of Islamabad, former quarry of the Afghan mujahideen, now defends the flag of the Emirate
Impossible to access with the car. All entrances to the Red Mosque in Islamabad are closed with concrete blocks. The Police surround an area where they do not see a soul. The call to prayer sounds, but the most iconic temple in the Pakistani capital is semi-desert and there is no trace of Mullah Abdul Aziz, the heart of this temple and the nightmare of the local authorities.
We’ve been like this for a long time. Sometimes they allow more people to come, but usually nothing. Security is even stronger since the triumph of the Taliban. The Police do not want demonstrations in the streets after prayer, “says Mullah Yaqub, who is in charge of guiding us through this red brick temple that was a quarry of mujahideen (holy warriors) in the jihad against the Soviet Union.
This triumph in Kabul here was celebrated by raising the flag of the Emirate and shouting for the implementation of sharia in Pakistan. The security forces intervened immediately, withdrew the banner and disbanded the faithful with blows. Everything that surrounds this temple is under the magnifying glass of security since in 2007 it was the scene of an armed riot by students and radical militants who clashed with the security forces for a week. There were more than a hundred deaths and it was an operation that forced the authorities to take action on the progressive radicalization of some Koranic schools.
Yaqub has been in the Red Mosque for two years, but just before entering he was detained for another two years because his brother belonged to the Tehrik e Taliban Pakista (TTP), the Pakistani Taliban movement. He is 35 years old, speaks shyly, but without fear. “We ask for sharia in our country, but the Government does not accept it. For seventy years we have a system full of injustices and the only solution is to establish Islamic law. The people of Afghanistan have spent twenty years of sacrifice and they have succeeded. They are our beacon and that success we want to follow by the others, “says the young religious in the small garden that leads to this red brick temple.
In Abdul Aziz’s bunker
To see the heart of the Red Mosque, you must now go to Jamea Hafsa. It is a secluded place, with a new madrasa under construction and to gain access you have to pass police controls. “Have they let you pass?” Asks Abul Aziz with surprise upon receiving the newcomers. “No one has asked anything,” we reply. His office is a small bunker in a basement, surrounded by books, medicinal plants, and two kalashnikovs. This is your new headquarters and you can’t get out of here. His passport has been taken away and he is not allowed to speak to the press.
“Allah protect your mujahideen, Allah protect the Taliban!”, Is repeated in the petitions
His father was murdered, his brother, son and wife perished in the 2007 Red Mosque raid, and he miraculously survived. After spending time in prison, he was released and has resumed his activity in favor of the implementation of sharia in Paskistan, with speeches in favor of the Taliban and the jihadist group Islamic State (IS). As he speaks, he spreads white cloths on which the students of the madrasa make the flag of the Emirate by hand. There are dozens. This 58-year-old clergyman repeatedly touches his long white beard and speaks energetically.
«The whole planet belongs to Allah, without exceptions. Afghanistan is the first step before the rest of the countries, starting with those in this region, begin to form their emirates until finally establishing the United Emirates of Islam. Without borders, without separations like those imposed on us by the British, all united, “he says in a powerful tone, underlining the words United Emirates of Islam.
An order from Allah
He did not hesitate to raise the Taliban flag, but he has a warning message to the Afghan Islamists because “imposing sharia is a direct order that they have received from God and they cannot make concessions for fear of the international community.” “If they do not respect this order they will face serious internal problems and the Islamic State (IS) will be there to remind them,” says this religious famous for praising the “good deeds” of IS on numerous occasions. “When I have to criticize them, I also do it, but right now they are the strictest followers of the Koran and the Taliban themselves know it,” he adds.
“Islamists have received a direct order from God to impose sharia”
The basic difference between the two groups is the global character pursued by the IS with its caliphate, which clashes with the Taliban who aspire to implant their Islamic regime on the Afghan borders. «We are a religion that has no possible comparison, what other religion is capable of making its faithful put on a vest of explosives and immolate themselves? From this school that I direct, more than a thousand suicide martyrs left for Afghanistan after the 2007 operation, and their role at the front was key to the Americans accelerating the withdrawal. Afghans are good fighters, but they don’t blow themselves up, ”explains Abdul Aziz, who suddenly stops and asks this special envoy his religion and why he does not convert to Islam after hearing such weighty arguments.
Prayer arrives. In the room next to the office, a hundred students of all ages gather. It’s hot. There is only one light from a weak fluorescent lamp. They greet Abdul Aziz effusively. He responds with a prayer that is like a hurricane to his ears and ends with petitions that everyone repeats aloud: “Allah protect your Mujahideen, Allah protect the Taliban.”