Blast targets Al-Zahra mosque in Hazara neighborhood Dashte Barchi Kabul

Updated: July 5, 2017 |

Al-Zahra mosque suicide attack Kabul

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Highlights of Attack

  • Two to three ISIS terrorists targeted Al-Zahra mosque in Hazara neighborhood of Dasht-e Barchi in West Kabul
    • In Dec 2016, ISIS released a video specifically targeting Hazaras, calling them ‘root of all evil’ as they are the main reason for the democracy that allows ‘occupying forces’ in Afghanistan
  • Terrorists unable to enter the main mosque area, instead entered the kitchen targeting those preparing meal for the special Ramazan night
  • Attack happened the night of 19th Ramadan — significant for two main reasons
    • Shab-e Qadar (night of Qadr) is the most religiously significant nights (19, 21, 23, 27 of Ramadan) for all Muslims in the entire year where mosques remain open all night for special prayers
    • Martyrdom of Imam Ali — first Shia Imam and son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) — a major event in Shia calendar
  • In South Asia, 19th Ramadan sees the 3rd largest mourning procession gathering after Ashura (10th of Muharram marking Martyrdom of Imam Hussain — Son of Imam Ali) and Arbaeen (40th of Moharram)


Al-Zahra mosque attack victim Haji Ramazan Husainzada
Shaheed Haji Ramazan Hussainzada


Shaheed Haji Abdullah Nabi-Zada


Shaheed Mohammad Saleh Nawabi (Police Commander)

Nigah TV interview with family of Shaheed Khadim Hussain Batoori

Update: June 16, 2017

Updated: June 15, 2017


‘ISIS’ Claims Attack Responsibility
The Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP also known as ISIS in Afghanistan) has claimed responsibility for the attack.


Why the Sunni-Shia Schism is false narrative in Afghanistan?
In the aftermath of every attack on Hazaras in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, media report the attacks as ‘Sunni-Shia’ schism fight. The attacks by ‘ISIS’ in Afghanistan is particularly attracting attention with most headlines like ISIS trying to foment sectarian  war in Afghanistan. This narrative, without providing proper context, shows either Journalist’s unfamiliarity with the history of the region or the flagrant disregard of it. 

What is meant by ‘ISIS in Afghanistan’?
Historically and during ‘current era’ (1990’s onwards), following ‘groups’ in Afghanistan have persecuted Hazaras: Taliban, AlQaeda, ISIS, Kochis, Afghan Goverment – all ethnic Pashtuns. 

All Jihadist Terrorists in Afghanistan have following in common:

  • Idoeology – Sunni Deobandi, the Pakistan-variant of Saudi Wahhabism. Deobandis are known to attack secular Sunnis (Barelvis – ideologically and politically closest to Shias), Sufis (mystics that has both Shias and Sunnis) and minorities like Hindus and Christians. 
  • Finances – Saudi, Qatar, GCC nations
  • Ethnicity – Pashtun
  • Grassroot Support – 1000s of Saudi/GCC financed-madrassas mostly in Pakistan. In AF-PAK, you can identify all of them by their distinct signature pattern – all hold madrassa Haqqania (aka ‘Univ of Jihad’ in KPK, Pakistan) in high esteem.

So, ‘what is ISIS’ may just be a fighter that changes from all white attire (Taliban) to all black (ISIS). 

Image showing ‘ISIS in Afghanistan’ eulogizing their Pakistani TTP leader, Hakimullah Mehsood, who was killed in the US drone attack. 

Hazara Persecution and Discrimination is ‘Ethnic’ Not Religious
Historically, the motive for persecution of Hazaras has always been control of Hazara resources. A religious decree (fatwa) issued by Afghan Govt (1890) and Taliban (1998) declaring ‘Shia Infidels’ are almost mirror copies. The 1890s (Diaries of Kandahar) fatwa by Pashtun-ruler of Afghanistan was used to ethnically cleanse 60% of entire Hazara population and resettled Pashtuns in the Hazarajat region. Today, the Uruzgan province in Hazarajat is almost 100% Pashtun. 


Due to systemic discrimation and persecution of Hazaras, much of Afghanistan and the world does not known about Hazaras. While predominantly the Hazaras are Shias, they have tens of thousands of Sunni and Ismaili Hazaras. Recently, it has surfaced that the famed Anti-Taliban Commander Kaftar is in fact a Sunni Hazara from Baghlan province. Generally, the slick PR against Shias when ‘declaring them infidels’ by Saudi-financed propaganda machine is ‘because they hurl insult to Prophet’s campanions and wife Bibi Aisha.’ Interestingly, Commander Kaftar is Sunni, Hazara, and her real name is Aisha Bibi.  


While the intense persecution in the name of ‘sectarianism’ has done a lot of damage to Hazaras, it has brought the Shia and Sunni Hazaras together after a 100 plus years of separation. The recent formation of the ‘National Council of Suni Hazara’ is a prime example. Prior to this, they were considered ‘non-Hazaras’ since the word Hazara implied ‘Shias only.’ 


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