Police officers guard at the Ismaili Center in Lisbon, Portugal, 28 March 2023. Two people were killed at the center earlier the day in an assault with a melee weapon, police said. EPA/ANTONIO COTRIM
Police officers guard at the Ismaili Center in Lisbon, Portugal, 28 March 2023. Two people were killed at the center earlier the day in an assault with a melee weapon, police said. EPA/ANTONIO COTRIM

Ismaili Centre attack: Everything we know so far

This morning saw a horrific knife attack at the Ismaili Centre in Lisbon, resulting in the death of two women.

The attacker was shot in the leg by police after refusing orders to stop and approaching officers with a “large knife” in his hand.

Who were the victims?

The victims have been identified as 24-year-old Mariana Jagaudy and 49-year-old Farana Sadrudin, both Portuguese citizens.

Mariana Jagaudy had a degree in Political Sciences and International Relations from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and a Master’s degree in the same specialty from the Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestão da Universidade de Lisboa.

Farana Sadrudin had a degree in Engineering from the Escola Superior de Tecnologia de Setúbal and was the niece of the diplomatic representative of the Ismaili Imamat (described as a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet Muhammad), Nazim Ahmad.

Both victims worked for Fundação FOCUS as social workers.

Célia Dória, one of their co-workers, has described the victims as “wonderful people” who were “hard-working, nice and helped students in their integration in Portugal

“They died at the hands of someone they were helping,” she told Jornal de Notícias.

Who was the attacker?

The attacker has been identified as Abdul Bashir, an Afghan refugee, widower and father of three. His wife is said to have died in Greece shortly after his family arrived in Europe. Bashir, nearly 40, lived in Odivelas for nearly a year with his three underage children.

Those closest to him have said that he wasn’t happy in Portugal and planned to move to Germany.

The attacker has been operated on, is stable and is in police custody.

How did the attack happen?

The attack reportedly happened during a Portuguese class attended by over 16 people.

The attacker was attending the class and is said to have unexpectedly attacked the teacher, who is hospitalised in serious condition, with a knife, as well as the two women who died.

PSP police say they were alerted to the attack at 10.57am and took “one minute” to arrive at the scene.

“It is too early to draw conclusions”

Prime Minister António Costa has said it is “premature to interpret the motivations of this criminal act” and that “we must wait with the certainty that authorities will carry out the necessary investigations.”

Whatever the motivation, two lives have been lost and that is always tragic. I want to express my solidarity. We will wait serenely. Everything points to this being an isolated act, but we will not get ahead of ourselves and the work of authorities,” Costa added.

Ismaili Community

The Ismaili Muslims are described on www.the.ismaili as a “culturally diverse community living in over 25 countries around the world.”

“The community adheres to a 1,400 year tradition of Shi’a values that are expressed through a commitment to a search for knowledge for the betterment of self and society; embracing pluralism by building bridges of peace and understanding; and generously sharing of one’s time, talents, and material resources to improve the quality of life of the community and those among whom they live.”

The Ismaili Centre in Lisbon opened in 1986.

“Beginning in the 1970s, Portuguese Ismailis created places of gathering for cultural and social purposes in major cities and towns where they settled. They also found office space for the establishment of philanthropic organisations that they sponsored. As they developed and expanded, these organisations involved increasing numbers of institutional partners and the wider Portuguese public,” the website explains.

“In order to meet the growing needs of institutions and the Ismaili community itself, a permanent and comprehensive facility was acquired in 1986,” it adds.

By Michael Bruxo

[email protected]ugalresident.com