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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 July 2006, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Muslim soldier who wanted to help
Jabron Hashmi
Jabron Hashmi felt he had a "privileged position"
The family of a British Muslim soldier who has died in Afghanistan say he gave his life in an attempt to build bridges between cultures.

Pakistani-born Lance Corporal Jabron Hashmi died along with his comrade Corporal Peter Thorpe, 24, in a Taleban attack on their base in the volatile Helmand province on Saturday.

The 24-year-old, from Bordesley Green in Birmingham, was the first British Muslim serviceman to be killed in action in Afghanistan.

His family said he had felt privileged to serve the Army as a Muslim British Pakistani.

"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," said his brother Zeeshan, 27.

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 bridging gaps and culture
Brother Zeeshan Hashmi
"In this day and age most of the problems are as a result of misunderstanding of each other's culture and Jabron understood that.

"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 bridging gaps and culture."

Childhood ambition

L/Cpl Hashmi was born and grew up in Peshawar in Pakistan, and emigrated to Britain with his family at the age of 12.

He joined the army in June 2004, and served in the Intelligence Corps, attached to the Royal Signals.

Corporal Peter Thorpe
Corporal Peter Thorpe died in the same attack
He was one of just 320 Muslims among the 200,000 servicemen and women in the British armed forces.

"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," said Mr Hashmi.

After the family moved to the UK, "he kept the same ambition and eventually decided to join the British Army. He was so happy when he got in."

In a joint statement with his sisters Zoubia, Absa and Tajalla, Zeeshan Hashmi paid tribute to his younger brother's caring, cheeky, confident and adventurous nature.

"He loved travelling and music. He was very caring towards his family and friends and a very caring person.

"He was proud of his role as a serving soldier and looked forward to his deployment to Afghanistan."

They added: "Even though it is a tragic loss, we are grateful to Allah for having Jabron for the last 24 years."

'Bit of a joker'

Mr Hashmi - himself a former soldier in the British Army - added: "My brother was a very happy young man, but very cheeky and mischievous. He was very daring, he had no fear of anything.

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
Zeeshan Hashmi
"He was a bit of a joker who could really make you laugh, but also make you cry if he wanted to.

"He was a very kind person, and would do anything for his friends.

"He also loved travelling, and that was one of the reasons he wanted to join the army, so he could see the world. He also loved reading and would read everything he could get his hands on."

Mr Hashmi said his brother had been in Afghanistan for about six weeks and was enjoying his job there.

"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."

'Fine young man'

L/Cpl Hashmi's commanding officer, Lt Col Steve Vickery, described the young man as "enthusiastic, confident and immensely popular".

"His enthusiasm for the role he had been given was simply outstanding.

This actually proves the fact that Muslims also give their life for Britain
Lord Ahmed of Rotherham
"Once deployed in Helmand Province, his skills proved vital in support of the 3 Para Battlegroup, providing protection for his comrades in the highly demanding working conditions of Southern Afghanistan.

"A fine young man, his sad loss and that of Corporal Thorpe will be felt by us all."

Prominent Muslim Labour peer Lord Ahmed of Rotherham said the 24-year-old's death while serving his country contrasted sharply with a survey suggesting that 13% of British Muslims think the 7 July bombers were martyrs.

"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."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The brother of Jabron Hashmi speaks about his death



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