Leaders of Pakistani and Muslim communities in Nassau County Wednesday condemned the Taliban attack on a military school in Pakistan that killed 141 people, almost all of them children or teenagers, and called for increased U.S. resources to prevent further bloodshed.
Jaweria Safdar, who was raised near Peshawar, where the attack took place, and lives in Elmont, said at a news conference in Mineola that she watched reports on the massacre of innocent children Tuesday at the Army Public School and College in horror.
"It's very painful," said Safdar, 34, an insurance company owner who came to the United States in 2011 and remained here after getting married. "I cannot stop crying watching them. I can feel their pain. It's horrible and torturous to see them going through this."
Aslam Baig, president of Karachi Club New York, a North Bellmore-based civic association, said the Pakistani army has fought unsuccessfully against the Taliban for decades. He worries that the violence will become worse once the U.S. withdraws its military forces from neighboring Afghanistan.
"This is the duty of the United States of America to make sure the Pakistani army is capable of handling this threat," Baig said. "If they are not able to control them in Pakistan, they will go all over the world and eventually to the United States."
Malik Abid, an ambassador at the International Human Rights Commission in West Hempstead, suggested that barbed wire and electronic surveillance be erected on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan to "restrict the movement of terrorists." The commission, based in Islamabad, Pakistan, is a global group dedicated to protecting human rights around the world.
But Ali Mirza, an activist for Pakistani causes who runs an Elmont-based public relations firm, said some Islamic seminaries, known as madrassas, that have been used to recruit jihadists and teach a "twisted interpretation" of Islam must change.
"Some madrassas are really brainwashing these children and turning them into suicide bombers and attackers," said Mirza, who twice ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for the Nassau County Legislature.
Safdar, who said she wants the U.S. to provide asylum for all victims of Pakistani terrorist attacks, said 40 members of her extended family were killed and 120 others injured by a Taliban suicide bomber in 2008. More than 20 other members of her family were later killed in targeted attacks, she said.