J7 Profile: Shehzad Tanweer (Age: 22)
Shehzad Tanweer: Alleged to be responsible for the Liverpool Street/Aldgate/Aldgate East Blast(s)
Shehzad Tanweer was born on December 15th 1982, making him aged 22 at the time of the bombings.
He was born in St. Luke's Maternity Hospital in Bradford, but moved to Beeston with his parents, brother and two sisters when he was still a toddler. He was a popular student at Wortley High School and also an outstanding sportsman with a shelf full of trophies.
A report in the Washington Post states Shehzad's primary passion was playing cricket and that he rarely missed a Wednesday night match at the local park. In the same article Tony Miller, a fellow cricket devotee from Beeston, said, ”Every time I saw him, he seemed like he was enjoying life," said Tony Miller, a fellow cricket devotee from Beeston.”
His father, a former Yorkshire Police officer, owned several local businesses, including a chip shop, which Shehzad often worked in, joking with customers as he served them. His red Mercedes, a gift from his father, was a well known sight around Beeston.
The news that Shehzad was suspected of detonating a bomb on a tube train at Aldgate left the people who knew and loved him reeling with shock. Their comments and statements unanimously give the impression of a quiet, sporty young man who took little interest in the news or political issues.
The Washington Post quoted part of an interview given by Shehzad’s cousin, Safina Ahmad:
"He felt completely integrated and never showed any signs of disaffection," Ahmad wrote. Tanweer was never interested in foreign policy or politics, said Ahmad, adding that she never once saw him reading a newspaper or watching the news. Nor did she see him attend any protests against Britain's involvement in Iraq or Afghanistan, or against Israel.”
Safina also said:
“Nothing could anger him. I cannot recall the last time I heard him even raise his voice.”
Long-time family friend Neil Kay said:
I've known Kaki [Shehzad] since he was two. He was always praying. He'd even get up at 4am to pray.
"He's a very religious lad, but a lot of his friends are white. He never put a white man down. He called me his uncle Neil. I can't believe he could be a religious fanatic.
"He was a good cricketer and was always watching sport on TV when he wasn't helping out at the fish and chip shop."
Chris Whitley, who lives across the street from the Tanweer family, said:
“He was my best mate growing up. He couldn't go a day without playing cricket."
Classmate Sunny Lotta remembers that Shehzad:
“Got on with everyone and had lots of friends who were white, Sikhs, whatever.”
An unnamed friend said:
“Shehzad was the sort of person who would always tell the young kids that they should stay out of trouble and make something of their life.”
''If you met Shezzy, you'd love him. He was really calm and humble. Very intelligent. All them boys was. That's why this is so shocking."
"Shazzy is the best lad I have ever met. He's a top guy and a top lad. We play cricket together, he's a bowler and a batsman. He wouldn't do anything like this. He's from a very strong family. He went to university to be educated; he did a sports science degree. I saw him last week. Shehzad is a very kind person who would get along with anyone and anybody. He's the kind of guy who would condemn extremism."
Shafquat Hussain, his batting partner, shares this view. Describing a cricket game they were playing for their team, Shaan B, eight days before the London bombings, he recalled:
"We were all just having a laugh and joking," he says incredulously. "He just said the usual things, 'good catch', that kind of thing. He was a wonderful, relaxed bloke. That's why we are all in shock. If he was a radical then he hid it from us. He would listen to everyone's point of view."
Shehzad's father, Mohammed Mumtaz Tanweer, gave an interview shortly after burying his youngest son in Pakistan. He stated:
“My son was more British in his orientation than anything else. He has planned his career in sport. Even on the night before he died, he was playing cricket."
"I saw him the day before he went to London. He was completely calm and normal, just his normal self. He was playing cricket in the park with his friends until quite late in the evening.
He was a very kind boy, intelligent and well-respected by everyone. This is not the boy I know. He must have had forces behind him.
He was proud to be British. If our family had thought he had been involved in any fanatical groups, we would have put a stop to it. There is no explanation I can come up with for why he did this. Our lives have been shattered."
His father and uncle’s testimony that Shehzad was playing cricket the night before the bombings is backed up by Imran, Hasib Hussain's brother who was playing with him.
A representative of the Metropolitan Police Anti-Terrorist Branch also referred to this cricket game, along with an observation that much of the behaviour Shehzad exhibited in the days before the bombings did not fit a pre-conceived terrorist profile:
“The unnamed official told delegates that Tanweer argued with a cashier that he had been short changed, after stopping off at a petrol station on his way to the intended target in London.
The official told the seminar held in Preston, Lancashire two weeks ago: "This is not the behaviour of a terrorist - you'd think this is normal.
"Tanweer also played a game of cricket the night before he travelled down to London - now are these the actions of someone who is going to blow themselves up the next day?”
Source: The Independent
An article in the Independent newspaper on September 10th painted a picture of Shehzad as a ‘single minded Jihadist killer’. The article stated that Shehzad and Mohammad Sidique Khan were part of a group of young Asian men in Beeston, known as the ‘Mullah Crew’. This group reportedly took on the task of cleaning up young drug addicts, taking them on outdoor pursuits activities such as white water rafting and paintballing. The comments made by locals regarding the ‘Mullah Crew’ are at odds with the numerous descriptions of Shehzad as given above. One source said:
"They would not take lads who had become too 'Westernised' for their liking."
This conflicts with statements such as this given by a neighbour of the Tanweers:
“The Tanweers' neighbour told how the man dressed in a Western way, often in designer tracksuits and trainers.
”He didn't have a beard; he wore sports tops, tracksuit bottoms and trainers -like anybody else really,"
Source: Islam Awareness
and also with reports that Shehzad even wore a baseball cap to mosque.
The article stated that Tanweer `seemed to have planned to get his own back' against an attack that was made on his fathers chip shop. It is not apparent, though, how it seemed that way when it is admitted in the following paragraph that Tanweer had no involvement in the attack on a white youth but appears to make it seem as if he would have by mentioning a completely unrelated public order offence caution he received on a different occasion.
There were reports that Shehzad visited Pakistan. Bashir Ahmad told reporters that he went purely to study religion and learn about the Koran.
The Independent stated:
“He stayed with an uncle and is not believed to have travelled very far. After three months, he returned to England to resume life in Leeds, choosing to work part time at his father's chip shop, the South Leeds Fisheries on Tempest Road near his home. He came back early because he didn't like "the heat, the poverty and the attitude the Pakistanis had towards people from England'', according to Mr Ahmad. He denied his nephew had travelled to Afghanistan or had taken part in training camps while he was in Pakistan. "There is no way. I have seen his passport," he said.”
Source: The Independent
While in Pakistan, Shehzad stayed with another Uncle, Tahir Pervaiz, who told TIME magazine:
"Tanweer was a noble soul…He was a shy and simple guy who would never be involved in a heinous crime like a suicide bombing."
Mr. Pervaiz also said that Tanweer left the village to visit madrasahs in Lahore and Faisalabad only occasionally, and that the trips were for just a few days at a time.
None of the reports are clear about Shehzad’s activities while he was in Pakistan, although Mohammad Sidique Khan joined him on the trip in 2004. According to Tahir Pervaiz, Sidique stayed at his house with Shehzad, leaving it frequently to visit his own family in Rawalpindi. In the interview with TIME magazine, Pervaiz stated that Shehzad did not join him on these visits - but in other accounts, he says that Shehzad did accompany Khan on two occasions, to visit Khan’s family with him.
To date it has not been confirmed if Shehzad met with any known terrorists whilst in Pakistan. Phone calls which were made from his home to a number in Pakistan were not linked to the bombings in London.
A number of reports claimed that Shehzad met terror suspect Zeeshan Siddiqui, but Siddiqui himself says the reports linking him to the London attacks are “false, baseless and misleading.” Siddiqui was arrested in Pakistan in May 2005 on suspicion of having links to al-Qa’ida, but has also only been charged with document forgery and immigration offences related to outstaying his Pakistan entry visa.
Shehzad is alleged to have killed himself and seven other passengers on a train at Aldgate. There are no reported witness sightings of him either at Kings Cross station or on the train.
'Property in the name of a second man was found at the scene of the Aldgate bomb. And in relation to a third man property in his name was found at the scene of both the Aldgate and the Edgware Road bombs.
'We also have very strong forensic and other evidence, that it is very likely one of the men from West Yorkshire died in the explosion at Aldgate’
A survivor of the Aldgate bomb, Bruce Lait, told the Cambridge Evening News:
"The policeman said 'mind that hole, that's where the bomb was'. The metal was pushed upwards as if the bomb was underneath the train. They seem to think the bomb was left in a bag, but I don't remember anybody being where the bomb was, or any bag,"
Source: Cambride Evening News
Shehzad had reportedly hired a Nissan Micra from the First 24 Hour car rental company in Leeds, which was used to drive himself, Hasib Hussain and Mohammad Sidique Khan down to Luton. The car was hired in his own name and he used his own credit card to pay for it. When the car had not been returned by July 12th, staff called round to the Tanweer family home in Beeston to collect it.
It seems strange that Shehzad would hire the car in his own name, leading an investigation straight to his house, when other reports suggest he had changed his appearance as a rudimentary attempt at disguise just before going to London.
Shehzad was laid to rest in October 2005 in a ceremony which was extremely tightly controlled by security agencies at the family's ancestral graveyard in Pakistan. Family members were apparently unable to make speeches or statements during the service and witnesses reported that attendees were not allowed to speak or offer direct condolences to the family. Police guarded the grave for some time afterwards.
Mr Tanweer said his son was entitled to a proper burial, although the family now intends to discover why he became a suicide bomber. The July 7 attacks killed 56 people, including the bombers, and injured more than 700 others. "My first priority was obviously to bring his dead body to our ancestral graveyard for the burial," he said. "Since I'm able to do this only now, I would soon try to find out the reasons [for the suicide mission] and will tell the world."
In January 2006, it emerged that Shehzad had managed to aquire a personal wealth of £121,000. There has been much speculation over how he came to have this much money since the chip shop appeared to be his only source of income. Some reports suggested it could be the result of a gambling habit or property left to him by a relative. Others suggest it points to the existence of a mastermind who was financing the operation, even though the leaked reports of the government narrative state that there was no mastermind or al-Qa’ida involvement in the London bombings and that the attack was carried out on a ‘shoestring budget’ using skills learned from the internet.
After a video of Mohammad Sidique Khan was released in September 2005, it was claimed that a video also existed of Shehzad.
According to a report in The Times, there is additional footage of Khan directly confessing to the attacks, which he did not mention in the video which was broadcast. The Times added:
“Another of the cell, Shehzad Tanweer is also said to appear, according to a source involved in obtaining the film for the Arab satellite channel, Al-Jazeera.”
There were no further mentions in the media of any other footage until an ABC news source announced on July 5th 2006 that a video of Tanweer would be broadcast on al-Jazeera the following day. It is not clear how advance warning of the broadcast was obtained, or how al Jazeera obtained the video.
The airing of the video just happened to coincide with the culmination of a week of media articles specifically about Tanweer, including an in-depth analysis in The New Statesman and an article in The Times. There was also an interview with a family friend of the Tanweer’s in a section of the Independent newspaper on the day of July 7th. While it is unsurprising that there should be articles about any of the accused in the week preceding the anniversary, there were no stories about the other three suspects and one assumes that at the time their articles were written, no journalists knew that a video would be released and making features about Tanweer all the more pertinent.
A transcript of the video was made available, showing exactly what Tanweer says in the video, along with Ayman al-Zawahiri and American al-Qa’ida member Adam Gadahn. There is an incongruent background to Gadahn; his real name is Adam Pearlman, although the FBI lists his aliases as Abu Suhayb Al-Amriki, Abu Suhayb, Yihya Majadin Adams and Yayah. Adam Gadahn's father is the musician Phil Pearlman of Pearlman Messianic Ministries, and his grandfather was Carl Kenneth Pearlman, a Urologist and member of the board of directors of the Anti-Defamation League. It was Phil Pearlman who changed the family name to Gadahn after converting to Christianity. Adam Gadahn was educated at home before moving in with his grandparents at the age of 15 and converting to Islam, an experience he wrote about in an essay he submitted to the USC website in 1995.
There is no explanation for how a heavy-metal loving teenager from California became an Islamic extremist reportedly working as an operative for a terrorist organisation, with these videos incorporating al-Qai'da's "second-in command" giving the clear impression of a hierarchical structure, which apparently does not exist.
There is no explanation for how Gadahn and Tanweer were acquainted, if indeed they were. There is also no explanation for how Tanweer, a British citizen from birth, appears in this video to have no knowledge of the electoral system in Britain, speaking as a foreigner who assumes that the Government of this country always represents the wishes of its people, although he would have known this is most certainly not the case.
Tanweer would have known how many people in Britain were against the atrocities that he appears to blame 'westerners' for in this video, despite the fact that he and his family and friends were the very people that in the video he claims are deserving of mass slaughter. These men would never have suffered the agony of seeing their homes and families destroyed, and one has to wonder how much of a role watching extremist DVDs plays in 'radicalising' young men who according to their friends, considered themselves British in every way.
Many non-Muslim British citizens are angered and outraged at the actions of the British government, not as a result of watching 'radicalising' or 'extremist' DVDs, but as a result of mainstream media news reports of the many atrocities perpetrated abroad in which the British government is willingly complicit.
It does not follow, despite the views of Martin Gilbertson, an IT expert who produced the anti-Western propaganda and who claimed that the DVDs produced "an atmosphere conducive to the bombers", that this anger leads directly to a compulsion to commit the same kind of appalling atrocity, especially not against ordinary passengers travelling on London transport, none of whom would have been responsible for the actions of the British government.
Curiously, when Martin Gilbertson began to feel concerns about the propaganda DVDs and the men he was working with, which included Martin Abdullah McDaid, an ex-special forces anti-terrorist operative who had converted to Islam, and took the material and names to the police, they made no response.
McDaid stated to the Mirror in July 2005 that not only was no such propaganda available at the Iqra Learning Centre, but that he had not worked with any of the four suspected men during his time there. It has also been reported by other sources that these propaganda materials were not associated with the Iqra.
As yet, no friend of Tanweer or family member has given their opinion on the video, even to say if it resembles Tanweer or not, as Khan’s friends did after a video of him was released in September 2005. It is also unclear where or when this video was made, as the Official Report into the London bombings appears to have found no confirmation of Tanweer’s movements during his trip to Pakistan, or who he met whilst there.
For further information, please see the J7 Incident Analysis for Liverpool Street / Aldgate / Aldgate East.