Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2017. 2:22 a.m. CST.
By Hugh O’Brien: On Friday, 20th January 2017 News 5 Belize broke the story that Abu Naila, an Islamic militant killed in the Philippines on 7th January 2017 after a shootout with police, is believed to be Nadir Ali Ahmad, a born Belizean national. The Philippine press reported that Abu Naila went to the Philippines to train as part of a plan to become an activist fighting the ‘IS’ (Islamic State) cause in Syria. Naila and a female companion were shot and killed after they were cornered by security forces and attempted to throw a grenade at the arresting officers. In his hiding place, police found various explosives and it is believed that he was training to be a bomb expert. According to News 7 Belize, local police sources confirmed that the Islamic extremist killed in the encounter with Philippine police is actually Belizean Nadir Ali Ahmad.
While Nadir Ali Ahmad died as Islamic extremist, bomb expert and alleged terrorist, little is known or has been reported about his life and activities in Belize.
Nadir Ali Ahmad is a 2000 graduate of the Belize College of Agriculture (BCA) and is an accomplished agriculturalist in Belize. He was classmate to a group of high achievers which include Shane Orio Moody, Belize’s national football team goalkeeper, Marvin Blades, former President of the Public Service Union of Belize, as well as a number of veterinarians, Phds, agronomists and agricultural officers serving the Ministry of Agriculture and the private sector in Belize.
While Nadir was not a very interactive and outspoken student, he was clearly not a loner. At 17 or so years of age, he was smart and intuitive, and in a number of situations he clearly demonstrated that he had leadership qualities and a greater ambition. In 1998, in rising tensions between the ‘Spanish’ and ‘Black’ students over access to the TV, and whether to watch an English or Spanish programme, Nadir Ahmad emerged as the leader of the ‘Black’ group of students. As the Principal tried to work out a compromise, Nadir was not afraid to accuse the BCA Principal of being biased against the ‘Blacks’ even while the ‘Spanish’ had just made an accusation that the BCA Principal was favouring the ‘Black’ students. The matter was eventually settled but not before the Principal brought in Ahmad’s father to have a delicate discussion with the young student.
In 2001, just one year after completing the two year Associates degree programme at the Belize College of Agriculture, Nadir left Belize to further his agriculture studies in Cuba. He returned with a Masters degree from Cuba in 2008 and worked for a few months for Circle R, a Mennonite rice processing company in Blue Creek. He then joined the Kolbe Foundation at the Belize Central Prison, directing the agriculture activities for over 5 years as well as managing the prison’s industrial zone. Prison officials admit that Nadir transformed their agriculture programme, expanding the piggery to over 100 pig fatteners and producing quality pigs without using any commercial feed. Rather he fed them with cooked high protein leafy plants and poultry waste, and produced biogas from the pig waste. He expanded the production of poultry and used organic farming methods to improve the production of leafy vegetables on the poor pine-ridge soils in the prison’s garden. His success made the prison more self-sufficient and generated increased income.
Nadir invited me to witness first hand the progress he was making at the prison about 3 years ago. I was impressed with his success and the respect that the prisoners had for him. Nadir, though, was troubled… he wanted more changes…he was making a great salary but was not content with the ‘prison system’…he felt cornered and that his innovative ideas were falling on deaf ears. I met Nadir a few months later…he had resigned from the prison as he was frustrated there. He said he was now working at Sanctuary Belize but was getting ready to establish his own agribusiness but he could not present his thoughts or plans in a pragmatic way. Nadir spent a mere 9 months at Sanctuary Belize and left in May 2015. He reportedly left the country. Where did he go…apparently not even his family members knew.
Nadir Ahmad was clearly soul searching…and as I reflect now, he was drifting…little did I know that Islamic extremism, ISIS and terrorism would be this ‘twisted’ and ‘invisible’ drift.
While Nadir Ali Ahmad was a student at the hallmark Belize College of Agriculture, I was the Principal of this institution and I taught him many of his agriculture courses. He credited his agriculture knowledge and zeal to this concept that we practiced ‘learning by thinking about what you are doing’…Aiming to become an Islamic terrorist is not ‘learning by thinking about what you are doing’!!!
…Islamic extremism for a young, bright star? Am at a loss… Why Nadir? And for what cause? It cannot be… For…”LAND AND PEOPLE – A COUNTRY’S MOST VALUABLE RESOURCES” (BCA’s logo).
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