Few clues seen in life of man tagged in cleric attack | Inquirer News
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Few clues seen in life of man tagged in cleric attack

/ 01:34 AM March 12, 2016

ZAMBOANGA CITY—Clues to the character and transformation of Misuari Kiliste Rugasan III, who was tagged as the gunman in the attack on a Saudi cleric and embassy official, could be distilled from the stories that his classmates and friends tell about the late 21-year-old university student.

They recall Rugasan to be a friendly, outgoing young man who suddenly became reclusive and shunned social gatherings for reasons Rugasan kept close to his heart.

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“He was very friendly, helpful, very religious and thoughtful,” said Rahim Bucoy, a habal-habal (motorcycle-turned-public utility vehicle) driver and Rugasan’s friend.

Bucoy said he started to “lose” his friend about two years ago when he suddenly became “serious.”

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“It seems like he grew old, he became so serious in life,” said Bucoy. “He became so prayerful, so studious that he hardly had time to mingle with us,” he added.

A classmate of Rugasan, who was killed after allegedly attacking and wounding Saudi cleric and author Dr. Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni and Saudi embassy religious attache Sheik Turki Assaegh, described Rugasan as sociable.

Rugasan changed when he became a member of a student group that the classmate would not identify.

Police, however, said Rugasan was member of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU), where Rugasan was enrolled in engineering.

MSA is the same group that organized a lecture of Al-Qarni on the day he was shot and wounded.

“He became less sociable, he devoted more time to this organization and he became very religious,” the classmate said.

Another classmate said until 2012, Rugasan was very active on social media. Rugasan soon started to deactivate his social media accounts.

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Membership in MSA is common among Muslim students in WMSU, according to one member.

But Rugasan, said Munib Kahal, MSA president, was neither an active member or an officer.

“All Muslim students of WMSU are members but being member is different from being an active member and an active officer,” said Kahal in a text message to Inquirer.

It is still unclear if Rugasan had joined other organizations aside from MSA.

An aunt of Rugasan said she did not know what happened to her nephew.

“I don’t know what was taught to him by the school organization, until now I cannot get over it (the shooting incident),” she said.

The aunt said even a video that was posted on Facebook supposedly showing Rugasan shooting at the car bearing Al-Qarni and Assaegh failed to convince her that Rugasan could try to kill someone.

“Every time I watch the video, it breaks my heart,” the aunt said.

Members of the Badua family, Rugasan’s adoptive family, said they were also in disbelief over what happened.

Supt. Diomarie Albarico, of the Central Police Station, said he understood the shock that Rugasan’s relatives are going through.

But Albarico said results of examination on Rugasan’s remains showed he was positive for gunpowder burns, indicating that he had fired a gun.

Albarico said police are now looking at every possible lead, including Rugasan’s membership in organizations.

On the fate of arrested suspects Mujer Abubakar and Junaide Cadir, the investigation is still ongoing.

Chief Insp. Helen Galvez, spokesperson of the Zamboanga City Police Office, said the Special Investigative Task Group Al-Qarni “is now investigating deeper on the background of the suspects and their affiliation.” Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: attack, character, clues, Dr. Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni, embassy, gunman, Misuari Kiliste Rugasan III, official, Saudi cleric, Sheik Turki Assaegh, Student, transformation
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