It’s almost unimaginable, the way they died: Faraaz Hossain, Abinta Kabir and Tarishi Jain were three students at American universities among the more than 20 people killed during a terrorist attack at a cafe last week in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
They, like the rest of the hostages, were given a test by the ISIS assailants, one witness told the Associated Press: Recite verses from the Quran or be killed. The victims were hacked or stabbed to death, officials said, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
But in the face of that horror, friends, family, former classmates and others have come forward to remember the trio for who they were and not for how they died.
“The hardest thing for me is knowing how scared they must’ve been,” one friend, Kereisha Harrell, told the AJC of Hossain and Kabir. “They were two of the best people I’ve ever known, and they didn’t deserve to die that way. No one there did.”
Faraaz Hossain: ‘The Sheer Goodness of His Heart’
A 2016 graduate of Emory University’s Oxford College, near Atlanta, Hossain was headed to Emory’s business school in the fall, according to the AJC.
A former classmate told CNN that in high school, the humble, responsible Hossain was voted both class president and prom king.
“My first interaction with Faraaz was when he reached out to me and offered to help me on a project I was working on,” another friend, Rifat Mursalin, told CNN. “And that serves as a testament to the kind of person he was.”
“He offered to help out of the sheer goodness of his heart,” Mursalin told the AJC.
Abinta Kabir: ‘A Very Bright Light’
Kabir was a fellow Emory student, a rising sophomore at the Oxford College and a close friend of Hossain’s who grew up with him in Bangladesh before moving to Miami, according to the AJC.
She planned to follow Hossain to Emory’s business school, according to the paper.
She was a “treasure to this world,” one childhood friend told CNN. She loved basketball and was a huge Miami Heat fan, according to the AJC.
“Her work ethic was always inspiring to me. She was incredibly goal-oriented and committed to her work and extra curricular activities, and an amazing athlete on top of that,” Kabir’s friend told CNN. “Everything she achieved, I can say she earned.”
Another friend remembered Kabir’s generous spirit on Facebook, according to CNN: “When I graduated Oxford, she … made me a little candy bag with sweets and wrote me a card about how much she would miss me,” the friend wrote.
Kabir, an only child, was close to her mother, according to the AJC.
“When ever we met up, I used to see Abinta holding her mother’s hands or hugging her,” cousin Hazira Afiya told the paper. “They could not stand without holding each other.”
Tarishi Jain: ‘Her Smile Was Contagious’
A sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley, Jain was “a smart and ambitious young woman with a big heart,” a school official said in a statement.
An Indian national, Jain planned on majoring in economics and was in Dhaka as an intern at Eastern Bank Limited, UC Berkeley said. She apparently knew Kabir and Hossain, according to social media posts, the Washington Post reports. Like Kabir and Hossain, she had previously attended the American International School in Dhaka, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“All of the times we had meetings, she had a way to make people feel happy, and she had a great spirit about her,” one college friend told CNN. “Her smile was contagious.”
Classmate Emerald Wong agreed, telling the Times: “[Jain] was very driven. But not by selfish reasons … more so because she wanted to make a difference.”