FOR Lance Corporal Jabron Hashmi, serving his country as a Muslim soldier was his lifelong dream. But at the young age of 24 the proud and loyal Brit became the first British Muslim soldier to die in the US-UK led ‘War on Terror’.
His family, in mourning at their Small Heath home in Birmingham, paid tribute to Jabron saying his lifelong dream was to help build bridges between the East and West.
“Jabron was a committed soldier and a committed Muslim”, his brother 27-year-old Zeeshan Hashmi said.
“He was fiercely proud of his Islamic background and he was equally proud of being British and was very proud to live in Britain. My mother is absolutely devastated and all she wants is her son back.”
Jabron died alongside colleague Cpl Peter Thorpe, during an attack by Taliban fighters on a British base at Sangin, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
In a joint statement released with his sisters Zoubia, Absa and Tajalla, Zasheen Hashmi paid tribute to his brother.
The 24-year-old, who came to Britain at the age of 12 from Pakistan, had hoped his Muslim background would help create greater understanding within the army, his brother said.
“Obviously, as a British Pakistani who was Muslim first and foremost, and having a Pakistan background in terms of being brought up there, he felt that he had a privileged position which he must utilise,” he said.
“By committing himself to join the British Army and then by going to Afghanistan as a soldier, he knew that he was best placed to perhaps bridge gaps and culture.”
Jabron’s family came to Britain from Pakistan when he was 12 and he joined the Army 10 years later, in 2004. After moving to the Intelligence Corps he was posted to the Royal Signals last January and finished his training six weeks before being sent to Afghanistan.
His love for the Army was evident from a young age, his brother said, who himself served as a soldier in the British Army.
“The military was his passion, it had been for a long time. Ever since he was a little child he had wanted to be an army commander, he said, adding “he was so happy when he got in.”
Mr Hashmi said the last time he spoke to his brother he seemed in good spirits.
“He said he was having a good time, but the last couple of times I spoke to him, he sounded very tired because of the long hours and all the travelling they were doing.
“He did say he was enjoying every minute of it, though, and was very excited and passionate about the job he was doing.
“Even though it is a tragic loss, we are grateful to Allah for having Jabron for the last 24 years.”
The Muslim Council of Britain also paid tribute to Jabron saying despite current British Muslim opposition to the conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq British Muslim soldiers could not pick and choose where they fought.
“This is a matter for the soldier himself,” spokesperson Inayat Bunglawala said. “Many people in the Army disagree with a particular war, but they are soldiers and they have to follow orders.”
His view was also echoed by Muslim Labour peer Lord Ahmed of Rotherham who said this proved British Muslims were prepared to give their lives for Britain.
“We should be sympathising with the family of both of the soldiers, particularly the Muslim family because this actually proves the fact that Muslims also give their life for Britain,” he said.