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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Revered ODU Alumnus Among 16 Killed in Afghanistan University Attack

When heavily-armed militants stormed the campus of the American University of Afghanistan on the evening of Aug. 24, 16 people, including Naqib Khpulwak Ahmad, were killed. Ahmad, a lecturer in the university's law school, was a 2012 graduate of Old Dominion University where he earned a master's degree in International Studies as a Fulbright scholar.

Ahmad, according to international news reports that have linked the assault to Taliban fighters, was the only faculty member killed in the attack that injured scores of students in addition to those who were killed.

"We may never know whether he was a deliberate target of the attack or randomly killed by a terrorist gun," said Regina Karp, executive director of Old Dominion's Graduate Program in International Relations. "What we do know is that we have lost one of the brightest lights of our program. Naqib was extraordinarily gifted."

Ahmad arrived at ODU in 2010 as a Fulbright scholar. At Nangarhar University, in Afghanistan, he was the top student in law and political science in the Department of Administration and Diplomacy. When Ahmad graduated, in 2008, his diploma was handed to him by former President Hamid Karzai, a year after he earned a certificate as a registered defense lawyer with the country's Ministry of Justice.

Ahmad was also a member of the Norwegian Refugee Council's office, a non-governmental international organization working with refugees and displaced people, where he was a team leader directing the work of other lawyers.

"It was his experience working with the council that introduced him to what would be his major passion - human rights," Karp said. "He was under no illusion that fostering human rights in his war-torn country would not only require a life-time's commitment but also exposure to dangerous opposition. He embraced this challenge and accepted the danger."

That sentiment was echoed by Ghulum Sarwar Sultani, another Fulbright scholar who recently arrived at ODU to pursue a Ph.D. in International Studies. Sultani was formerly a colleague of Ahmad's at the American University.

"They're against Democracy. They're against freedom. When they come in and attack an academic institution, where the future generation gets hurt, that tells you a lot about how they perceive their rule in Afghanistan in the long run," Sultani said. "Living in Afghanistan is not easy. Naqib, we know very well, with his talent and skills, could have easily found a job working in the U.S., Europe, anywhere else. But I think that his choice to work in Afghanistan should tell you he's a patriot. He knows the value of his work. He knows it has a meaning living in Afghanistan."

Karp said Ahmad made many friends while at ODU and stayed in touch through social media after his departure.

"We all shared in his joy at the offer of an assistant professorship at the American University in Kabul," she said. "His Afghan peers described him as a leader for change and peace and we were privileged to glimpse his potential when he was at ODU. He was a consummate student, freely sharing himself with others who returned his generosity with life-long friendship."

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