By Charlene Madondo
Now Daily Investigation
Until last week, Rylance Milanzi was a desperate young man. Abandoned by his parents when they crossed into South Africa to flee poverty and political persecution by the government in Zimbabwe (the country is now ranked second poorest in the world by the United Nations and is considered an ‘outpost of tyranny’ by the United States), Milanzi endured the daily humiliation of going without a job and the pleasures that go with regular pay. When his father sent money for groceries, Milanzi habitually blew it on drugs, alcohol and prostitutes, leaving nothing for food.
Last week, the situation promised to improve when a group of Muslim men from the local al-Masjid mosque visited Milanzi’s home in an impoverished Zimbabwean township. There were at least 10 of them, dressed in flowing white robes, matching trousers, sandals and tiny white hats perched on top of their heads. Several of the men spotted huge Osama bin Laden-style beards and were introduced as the ‘guests from Pakistan’.
The ‘clerics’ gave Milanzi’s elderly grandfather some money and told him that they were taking his grandson for some ‘Islamic studies’ at the mosque. After the first session, Milanzi had been briefed of his mission.
“I am going to Saudi Arabia for training, then to Pakistan to work,” Milanzi told an undercover Now Daily reporter after meeting the Pakistani recruiters.
The youth said he had been promised huge amounts of money if he made the trip.
“They told me that I was going to be very rich,” said Milanzi.
He, however, had no illusions about the nature of work he was being asked to do. He regularly watched Press TV, the Iranian anti-Semitic propaganda channel and got information from local Muslim elders about ‘jihad’, which he perceived to be the war against Israel and the West.
“The men from Pakistan told my grandfather that I could be gone for ten years or more but that he should not worry because they would keep him supplied,” Milanzi said.
Since he started going to the ‘school’, Milanzi has given up drugs, alcohol and women. He goes to the mosque several times a day to pray and get further instructions about his mission. But secretly, he expresses the fear that he will be killed in the war.
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By Charlene Madondo