Calgary woman’s remains to arrive home Friday

Karim-Aly Kassam

The brother of a Calgary woman gunned down in a Kabul hotel earlier this month told reporters Thursday that her death was not in vain.

Karim-Aly Kassam said his sister, Zeenab, had been taking part in celebrations to welcome spring when gunmen burst into the hotel, fatally shooting her and fellow Canadian Roshan Thomas, along with seven other people, including children.

“We hold no malice towards the people of Afghanistan, instead we stand with you in solidarity,” Kassam said. “We grieve with these families of these boys who savagely killed, because we know what it is like to lose a family member.”

Kassam spoke of his sister’s life, saying that she was an active Canadian girl who loved hockey and running track. He said his sister enjoyed helping others, and that she found purpose in her volunteer work as an English teacher to young men and women in Afghanistan.

Karim-Aly Kassam speaks at a press conference at Mount Royal University about the tragic death of his sister in Afghanistan.

“By teaching young women and men, she furthered their professional development. It is about communication, it is about furthering human interaction and understanding,” Kassam said of his sister’s mission.

He added that he himself had been working in Afghanistan since 2006, “If we did not believe or were not committed, we would not be working there.”

While Kassam said his family holds no hatred towards the people who murdered his sister, he said he is still devastated by the death of his sister.

“Of course I feel angry. But this anger must be directed, and must reflect the values that Zeenab believed in, the values that our family upholds, and the values that represent our community and our country,” Kassam said.

Zeenab Kassam had planned on returning to Calgary this week to help her brother care for their ailing mother. After the difficult process of securing Zeenab’s body from the military hospital, the Kassam family will be receiving her remains Friday afternoon.

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