Did bomber use EU grant to brainwash the others?
By Louise Male
MUSLIM parents in Beeston fear their children may have been brainwashed by a community worker who has been uncovered as having links with al-Qaeda.
Mohammed Sidique Khan was known to MI5 intelligence yet he was given EU grants to open gyms for Asian youths in Beeston, Leeds where he recruited the other London bombers.
The 30-year-old teaching assistant from Dewsbury killed seven people including himself when he detonated a bomb on a Tube train at Edgware Road.
A senior government official has revealed that he was the subject of a routine threat assessment by MI5 officers after his name cropped up during an investigation in 2004.
The inquiry focused on an alleged plot to explode a 600lb truck bomb outside a target in London, thought to be a crowded Soho nightclub.
It emerged that MI5 found out in 2004 that Khan had been visiting a house used by a man who had met one of the suspected truck-bomb plotters. But MI5 officers decided that because Khan was only "indirectly linked" to one of the bomb suspects he was not considered a risk. The intelligence service took no further interest in him.
The revelation is the first firm link between the bombers and earlier terror plots and indicates that the attack was part of a campaign planned by international terrorists.
Khan is believed to have recruited the others during community work in Beeston.
He was given grants of 4,000 to open boys-only gyms for Asian youths in the area.
The Lodge Lane Gym in Beeston remains sealed off by police officers today who continue to search the property. Another gym was set up in the basement of a mosque used by Khan to recruit young boys into his terror network.
The first gym opened in the cellar of the Jamia Mosque in Hardy Street in 2000 – the only adult allowed inside was Khan.
Amongst the earliest gym members were Shezad Tanweer, then aged 17 and Hasib Hussain, then 13 – who travelled to London with Khan to trigger the London explosions. Like the fourth bomber Germaine Lindsay, otherwise known as Jamal Lindsay or Lindsay Jamal, all were fitness fanatics.
While their parents prayed in the mosque, Khan taught his students in the gym his extreme views on Western life.
Once he decided the teenagers were ready, Khan arranged for them to visit terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan where they were taught combat skills and how to make bombs similar to those used in the London attacks.
Leeds City Council has confirmed the two EU grants were designed to support community groups in deprived areas. But now it is feared the funds may have been used towards funding the terror attacks.
Shezad Tanweer's uncle, Bashir Ahmed said: "We consider Shezad to have been a victim of Khan because of a grooming process in the gym.
"It was below the mosque and the only adult allowed inside was Khan. We had no problem with this because he was a respected teacher."
It is thought that hundreds of Muslim boys in the area used the gyms and parents are now fearful that Khan may have brainwashed others.
Many youngsters in Beeston described Khan as a mentor. He played sports with them, took them on canoeing and camping trips and nurtured their love of cricket and football.
Khan's respectability peaked when he visited Parliament as a guest of Hemsworth Labour MP Jon Trickett.
But last summer, following his final visit to Pakistan, Khan changed and resigned from his post at Hillside Primary School.
Tanweer was also undergoing a personal transformation. Last December he met militant groups linked to al-Qaeda north of Lahore in Pakistan.
Habib Hussain also traveled extensively to increase his knowledge of Islam. He visited Pakistan twice and Saudi Arabia five times.
The three men are believed to have visited Pakistan while Tanweer is alleged to have spent time at Markaz-e-Dawa, a notorious religious school 20 miles from Lahore which was co-founded by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Just before Khan resigned from his job, elders from Beeston's Stratford Street mosque told the three men their 'inappropriate teachings' had no place in the local prayer houses.