More background on Dhiren Barot, by Duncan Gardham in the Telegraph, with thanks to all who sent this in:
Dhiren Barot was the least likely al-Qa’eda chief imaginable, nothing like the perceived picture of a man planning to set off a dirty bomb in London and hoping to rock western society with a series of terrorist atrocities.
Short, quietly spoken and smartly dressed, Barot was born a Hindu and brought up in a north London suburb by middle-class parents before becoming one of the key figures in international Islamic terrorism.
Oh, will the Islamophobia never end?
Family friends told The Daily Telegraph that Barot’s father was a disciplinarian who expected his family to follow traditional Indian values.
Barot left home at 20 after secretly converting to Islam and only returned when his father had a heart operation several years later. By then he had grown a beard and his father told him: “Shave it off, you look like a Muslim.”…
One Muslim school friend said: “I used to go to a community centre across the road for Friday prayers and a few of my Hindu friends used to come along out of curiosity but Dhiren wasn’t one of them.
“A few years later I bumped into him at a prayer meeting with another friend who had converted him.”
The prayer meeting, held at Willesden Library, was run by Abdullah el-Faisal, The Daily Telegraph has learned. El-Faisal, a Jamaican convert, was also preaching to the would-be hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui in Brixton and visiting Leeds to preach to the July 7 bombers. He was jailed in March 2003 for incitement to murder and racial hatred.
After school, Barot gained a City and Guilds in tourism and worked in travel agencies and hotels before becoming an airline ticket clerk for Air Malta in Piccadilly, London, in 1991. He left after four years “to go travelling”.
He flew to Pakistan then to Kashmir, “witnessing a side of Islam which cannot be found in classrooms”. He took extensive notes about the weapons and explosives training he received and on his return used this knowledge to move to Afghanistan where he spent a year working as a trainer in one of the camps for Islamic fighters.
It was probably during this time that he met Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks and became involved with al-Qa’eda. He had the nicknames Esa al-Britani and Esa al-Hindi.
Back in Britain he saw that el-Faisal had black bodyguards with relatives in Montana and travelled to the US to try to recruit them for al-Qa’eda.
In 1998 he moved to Thailand where he was married, although nothing is known of his wife. The following September he travelled to the Philippines to be trained in firearms, munitions and explosives handling.
American intelligence sources believe he met the al-Qa’eda planner Hambali in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, just as the September 11 attacks were being finalised.
Barot travelled to Karachi in January 2000 and the Americans say he went from there to Kuala Lumpur with Osama bin Laden’s former bodyguard Walid bin Attash, known as “Khallad”.
It is also possible that he met two of the men who were to become hijackers on September 11, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, who were meeting Hambali in Kuala Lumpur around the same time….