Friends shocked Calgary man became suicide bomber
The people who knew Salman Ashrafi say he was a laid back guy and could never imagine he would strap explosives to his chest and blow himself up in a suicide attack.
Ashrafi, a former student leader at the University of Lethbridge, was born in Pakistan but grew up in Calgary.
His father taught engineering at the University of Calgary.
In November 2013, Ashrafi blew himself up near a military facility in Iraq, taking 46 people with him.
The ISIS, a radical spin-off of Al-Qaeda, praises him on their website, referring to him as a martyr for the killings.
Banjo Choi, who met Ashrafi in Lethbridge, says he was very involved with the Muslim Students’ Association, describing him as religious but not radical.
“He always had his Quran with him all the time.” Choi said. “When we were back at university together, he had that book laying around, so I asked him what it was so he gave me the lowdown of what the book entailed.”
Ashrafi had a job at Talisman Energy in Calgary, but something soon changed.
He became more immersed in his religion, quitting his job a year and a half ago and going overseas.
“I’m just shocked,” Choi said. “I would have never expected it from him. I’m just surprised; I can’t even describe how I feel right now.”
Calgary imam Syed Soharwardy was particularly touched by Ashrafi’s death. He knew him and his family personally, watching them grow up in the city.
“This kid I knew. I knew his family. I knew him and I know their background and for so many years. My kids were younger than the family but they grew up together actually so it was quite disturbing.”
Damian Clairmont, another Calgarian who went fight in Syria and was killed earlier this year.
Clairmont’s mother says he and Ashrafi were friends and were sought out, ‘brainwashed’, and coerced into joining the radical movement.