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A student at the seminary near Gunj Gate of Peshawar. -Photo by AFP
A student at the seminary near Gunj Gate of Peshawar. -Photo by AFP

PESHAWAR: Sheikh Aminullah, who triggered the US economic sanctions on a small seminary in Peshawar on Tuesday, has been frequently travelling abroad despite having been declared a terrorist by the US government and the United Nations in 2009.

“Sheikh Aminullah travelled to Saudi Arabia in last Ramazan for performing Umra and then came back to Rawalpindi where he was teaching the Holy Quran at a mosque in Raja Bazaar,” said one source affiliated with Jamia Taleemul Quran wal Sunnah, which was declared a terrorist outfit by the US government.

He said he knew that Amanullah, who had taught here from 20 years, had been declared terrorist by the UN and the US.

Sheikh Aminullah has no longer any association with the seminary associated in the congested old part of Peshawar city.

Administration of the seminary said Aminullah had left the religious school eight months ago and that they were not aware of his whereabouts.

“If he (Aminullah) was wanted to America or UN, then he can be arrested in Saudi Arabia or in Islamabad. Why declare a seminary a terrorist outfit,” he asked, declaring the US charges rubbish and baseless.

“This seminary is open to everyone. We also invite Americans to inspect this compound,” he offered, saying that this place had been under observations since the US government put name of Sheikh Aminullah on the list.

The US State Department said the seminary was being abused by terrorist organisations and today’s action appeared to be the first time, a seminary had been declared a terrorist outfit in Pakistan.

Haji Alam Sher, 85, owner of the seminary, said Sheikh Aminullah had left the seminary on his own will about eight months ago and he did not know his whereabouts.

“I don’t know the reason as to why he left seminary, but I did not ask him to leave this job,” said Sher who donated about one kanal land where seminary stands.

Sher, who belongs to Ahle Hadith school of thought, had also donated his small soap factory to the seminary located nearby. The revenue generated from the factory is being used to pay expenses of the religious school, he said.

The owner denied receiving donations from Saudi Arabia or other countries.

“What would be the effect of the US sanctions on me and the seminary because I don’t have any bank account? Whether America will stop our bread and butter by imposing such sanctions,” Sher smiled when asked about implications of the sanctions on the seminary.

Jamia Taleemul Quran wal Sunnah is situated in a narrow street outside Gunj Gate of Peshawar, where, according the administration, some 120 students are enrolled.

The seminary was established in 1990.

The ground floor is used as a mosque while first floor is used as a classroom and dormitory. Three to four small rooms on the top floor are also used for teaching purposes. The street is largely inhabited by the followers of Ahle Hadiath school of thought.

Qari Mohammad Ibrahim, principal of the seminary, said 40 students were provided boarding facilities in the seminary. He said the seminary was used for teaching Quran and theology.

“I challenge America to prove its allegations,” he said, adding that he did not know that why this small seminary was declared a terrorist outfit.

“We deny US claim that the seminary is used for terrorist activities, recruitment of militants or any other subversive activities,” he said.

He said they had no affiliation or links with Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Lashkar-i-Tayyaba or any sectarian group and that they would never allow the use of the seminary for terrorist activities.