Abu Shahab is preparing to leave for Kuwait where he will fight alongside his father against Iraq.

Photo: Ottavio Cicconi

Student to fight in war

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By John Qubti

When Abu Shahab received a fax from his father last week he knew he had to drop out of Ryerson.

His dad is one of the top ranking military officers for the Kuwaiti army and is now stationed close to the Iraqi border. The letter told him to drop all of his courses and get on the first flight to the Middle East, where he’ll join his father in combat against Iraq.

“I’m not afraid of war,” he said.

But he’s quick to say he doesn’t believe in this war because he doesn’t think the Iraqi people will ever gain freedom at the hands of the United States government.

“This is a total invasion, this is total b.s.,” he said. “You can never change George Bush’s mind and I can never trust him.”

If Shahab refused his father’s order, he would never be able to return home to Kuwait and would be disowned by his family.

The former engineering student has a flight booked to the United Arab Emirates for April 12 and will soon witness the blood and misery of war in Iraq first hand — something that North Americans only see on television.

War is nothing new to Shahab. The 22-year-old graduated from a military high school at 16 and holds full ranking officer status in the army. He knows how to shoot a rifle, drive a tank and fly a fighter plane. And this is the third war he will experience first hand.

In 1991, he and his family lived underground for eight months during the Gulf War. Then while backpacking through Europe in 1993, he was detained by U.S. soldiers and forced to stay in a hostel in the former Yugoslavia for three months.

Shahab, an international student, arrived in Toronto in 2000. The Kuwaiti government provided him with living arrangements in Richmond Hill, Ont. He already holds an engineering degree from a Turkish university and was planning to finish another degree at Ryerson before returning home to Kuwait.

There was almost a tear in his eye as he spoke to many of his friends inside the Ryerson business building.

While in Turkey, he joined the business group AIESEC, which sends students on internships across the world. AIESEC is located in over 90 countries across the world, and the Ryerson chapter is one of Canada’s largest.

Shahab quickly made friends in the association and was elected to an executive position this year.

The group was stunned by his decision but know that he is loyal to his country and family.

Current AIESEC Ryerson president Brian Yoon is organizing a going away party for Shahab Thursday night at Milwaukee’s grill on Adelaide Street.

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