Nasir Abbas, of West Seattle, had traveled to Pakistan to visit family. He was shot, along with his four brothers, two of whom died with him.
Raised by a single mom in a tiny apartment in Pakistan, the five brothers helped each other, working when they could and supporting the rest. Most grew up to become successful: one a banker in London, another a prominent business owner in Pakistan and still another an engineer who long worked in the U.S. and moved to Seattle a couple of years ago to be near his son, an Amazon software-development manager.
On Saturday, three of the brothers, including Nasir Abbas, of West Seattle, died together in an apparent terrorist shooting in Pakistan. Two other brothers, also shot, are in the hospital, according to Aamer Abbas, Nasir Abbas’ son.
Nasir Abbas, 65, had traveled to Pakistan to visit family and look into having a hernia operation there. He was sitting with his brothers outside a relative’s home in Karachi, the country’s biggest city. Inside the home, dozens of women gathered to commemorate a holiday marked by Shia Muslims during Muharram, the first month of the Islamic New Year.
Men on motorcycles barged in and started shooting, killing at least one other person in addition to the three brothers.
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A faction of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an extremist Sunni group that targets the minority Shia population and sometimes works with the Islamic State group, has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Reuters.
“I think it’s still too early to be certain,” said Aamer Abbas, speaking from Pakistan after the Monday funeral for his father and uncles. In a country frequented by sectarian and political violence, groups may falsely take “credit” for a shooting, he said. “It could be anything. ”
Still, he acknowledged that the gunmen might have attacked family members because of their Shia faith. He also speculated that the shooters might have singled out one uncle because he was a high-profile entrepreneur. Tahir Abbas, co-owner of a Karachi car-parts manufacturing company called Faraz Industries, is expected to survive.
When he was home, Nasir Abbas regularly attended Friday noon services at the IMAN Center of Kirkland. Yet to him, according to his son, “it was not important whether you were Shia or Sunni, or whether you were Muslim at all. What was important were the values you have and how you treated people.”
Jawad Khaki, imam and co-founder of the IMAN Center, called Nasir Abbas a “beautiful soul” who made it a point to say something nice after every service. The two men didn’t know each other well, but when Khaki’s father died in London this spring, Nasir Abbas, visiting the city at the same time, came to the memorial service.
Nasir Abbas owned a franchise of Dental Fix, a Florida-based company that sells and repairs dental equipment. He was known there as a “real nice gentleman, very passionate about work and family,” said Dental Fix director of operations Tom Meiron.
It was a job that took up only a few hours a day, said Aamer Abbas. A few years ago, his father retired from Siemens, the engineering company that brought him to the U.S. decades ago to work on medical devices and software.
Unwilling to sit around idly in retirement, Nasir Abbas, then living near Philadelphia, bought not only the Dental Fix franchise but also one that offered tax services. He scaled down to one franchise when, with his wife of 40 years, he moved to Seattle. They took over a floor of their son’s West Seattle house.
Aamer Abbas credits his dad with instilling in him a love of science and technology. After every business trip, the engineer would bring back a book for his son — about the solar system, evolution, rockets. On long road trips, father and son would discuss binary logic and how circuits work.
The engineer had a literary side, too. He read avidly in English and Urdu, the language of Pakistan, and wrote short stories and poetry.
Aamer Abbas said his dad returned to Pakistan partly at the urging of brother Tahir. A man of means, the brother knew Nasir Abbas needed an operation and wanted to take care of him throughout the recuperation. It would also be a chance for the brothers, once very close, to reunite. Naiyyar Zaidi flew in from London; he was also killed.
“It’s easy to fall into the trap of being vengeful and hateful,” said Aamer Abbas. “That’s what these groups want.”
But he said he was determined not take the bait. “That’s the reason we’re not them.”