Eid day’s unsung hero: The man who died saving the mosque

An edited version of this article was first published in The Express Tribune on Aug 12, 2013.

Islamabad – When the suspected suicide bomber managed to enter the gated compound that houses Masjid Ali ibne Abi Talib in Bhara Kahu on Eid day and started shooting indiscriminately, Syed Amin Hussain had just finished his professional duties and was preparing for his religious obligation.

The 35-year-old Hussain had joined the mosque as a private security guard in July, only a few days before Ramazan started. On Eid day, he had manned a body search point on one of the three routes that led to the walled compound in which the mosque resides.

The mosque’s administration had conducted the Friday sermon and prayers earlier than usual on August 9 and by 1:45pm most of the worshippers had already left. It was then, that Hussain and other security volunteers had returned to the mosque to offer their prayers.

The five to seven minutes after the attacker, later identified as Zakaullah, entered the mosque were the last few minutes of Hussain’s life. He lived them valiantly, like a hero in some action movie, and then he died, like a hero in reality.

As Zakaullah got inside the mosque, Hussain was performing ablution for prayers. A bullet hit him in the chest as he turned to face the attacker.

Zakaullah ran through the mosque’s courtyard where a worshipper blocked his run and as the two men scuffled, the attacker trying to blow himself up, the worshipper trying to contain him, Hussain recovered to grab hold of his gun.

He fired at the suspected suicide bomber from behind and hit him in the forehead, killing the attacker instantly. Before he was shot down, the attacker had tried to detonate his suicide vest, but the explosives did not go off — some good luck to go with the bravery.

But Hussain, a resident of the Mheeta village near Kohat, had bled excessively from the gun shot wound before he was taken to the Polyclinic Hospital. He was pronounced dead when he was brought to the hospital. Hussain’s funeral prayer was offered at the D-Chowk on Friday and his body was transferred to Kohat for burial the same evening.

Hussain has left behind a wife and four sons, the youngest only a year-and-a-half. His father, two brothers, a step brother and three sisters are also alive.

Hussain’s cousin Bahar Hussain Sherazi, who runs a general store on Kayani Road, said Hussain was a poor but an extremely hard working man. He retired as an employee of the Frontier Corps around a year ago and had worked as a security guard for a doctor in Peshawar for a little while, Sherazi said. Hussain had also applied for police in Kohat before he came to Bhara Kahu in July.

“He just wanted to provide a good life for his children,” Sherazi said. “He was a very sensible person.”

Sherazi said Hussain’s eldest son was around 13 years old and studying in grade 7. He said Hussain’s children would now live with their paternal grandfather.

Jabbar Hussain Shah, an area resident who knew Hussain from the mosque, said Hussain was a dedicated worker.

“He was on night duty during the past few days and then serving the mosque on Eid day again,” Shah said.

“The courage this ordinary man showed by sacrificing his life to save others is exemplary,” said Nisar Haider, another area resident. “But the government has not announced any compensation for the poor man’s family.”

Haider said the government should honour Hussain’s courage by helping his family who lost their only breadwinner.

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