The Edgware Road bomber had international terrorist connections, helped fund terrorism and may have been an operative in Israel, yet evaded MI5’s attention last year because he was considered to be too low-level a criminal.
Mohammed Sidique Khan, 30, had links with an al-Qai’da operative, visited Pakistani religious schools run by terrorist groups and was in Israel in the year that the British Muslims Mohammed Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif arrived to blow up Mike’s Place, a jazz bar on the Tel Aviv seafront.
He seems increasingly to be the charismatic “Mr Khan” whose influence the youngest bomber’s family voiced fears about in the weeks before the blasts.
Khan was known to Mohammed Junaid Babar, a terrorist in US custody who pleaded guilty last year to providing material support to al-Qa’ida, according to two American intelligence officials. They have said Babar was shown photographs of the four bombers last Thursday and identified Khan as a man he met in Pakistan, from two separate photographs.
The intelligence has not been corroborated by British security services but, if true, would conflict with the initial suggestions that the London bombers were home-grown “clean-skins” completely unknown to security services.
Khan, a one-time primary school teaching assistant from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, killed six other passengers when he triggered the Edgware Road station bomb. The death toll from the four blasts reached 55 at the weekend…
The Israeli secret service, Mossad, is understood to be sharing information with its British counterparts. According to Israeli media, another British-born terrorist, the “shoe-bomber” Richard Reid, also visited Israel on a reconnaissance mission before he tried to blow up an airliner bound for Miami in December 2001. Bashir Ahmed, Shahzad Tanweer’s uncle, said Khan “groomed” his nephew in a gymnasium below the Hardy Street mosque near the family’s home in Beeston, Leeds. “It was below the mosque and the only adult inside was Khan. At the time, no one had a problem [with that] because he was a respected teacher,” he said…
Khan’s emergence as a central figure behind the bombings is extraordinary, given the six months he once spent advising youngsters about the perils of drugs, a project that culminated in a brochure on the subject. The project leader said yesterday that Khan had insisted a British flag must be part of the leaflet. “I was born here and I am proud of it,” he had said.
The theory that an al-Qa’ida figure known to MI5 may have slipped briefly into Britain to supervise the bombings is becoming increasingly discredited and may be a case of mistaken identity. But Magdi Mahmoud el-Nashar, who was arrested in Cairo on Friday, is still considered important to the investigation.