Mohammed Sadique Khan: Expectant father whose chosen path meant he would never see his baby

By Jonathan Brown
Published: 14 July 2005

Mohammed Sadique Khan had married for love. Flouting the cultural conventions of his community, he rejected an arranged marriage. Instead, the 30-year-old learning assistant and mentor married Hasina, the girl he met and fell in love with while studying at Leeds University.

His parents were from Pakistan, hers from Gujarat in India. But despite the differences, they married four years ago and only a few months ago set up home close to Hasina's widowed mother in a council housing estate in Dewsbury, away from Khan's normal stomping ground close to where he was born in a run- down part of south Leeds.

The couple already had an eight-month-old daughter. Hasina was pregnant with their second child. She was excited and looking forward to the birth. But unknown to her, her husband had chosen to take a path that would mean he would never see his second baby born.

Last week, he closed the door on the family home and left the immaculate gardens of Lees Holm for the last time. He chose to end his life in the inferno of a Circle line Tube train after detonating his rucksack bomb in a tunnel near Edgware Road station. Seven people died with him, 100 were wounded, at least 10 of them with injuries so serious they will be permanently maimed.

In Dewsbury yesterday, no one could understand what had driven him to take his own life and kill others in such obscene circumstances. They remembered him as a bearded young man, who wore trendy Western clothes along with his religious cap, while Hasina wore a burqa. They recalled that he loved his wife, that the pair had a harmonious marriage and almost never argued. Both were pleasant and polite in the street. Proud parents, to all the world model members of their community.

Khan appeared to live his life entirely beyond suspicion. He would leave the house each day, driving off in his Honda Civic. A regular at a local gym, he had few friends in the Dewsbury area, preferring to keep in touch with associates in Leeds where he is understood to have worked in an Islamic bookshop in the city. The only clue to his apparent radicalisation was his refusal to worship at the local mosques.

Instead he chose to attend the radical Stratford Street mosque in Leeds, where he would often be late for prayer meetings due to work commitments. While his work colleagues viewed him as a conscientious member of staff, he, according to friends, was plotting to ensure that the world would know him as a "martyr".

A local community leader, who asked not to be identified, said it was likely Khan had met the other men - who were all believed to be friends - away from Dewsbury. "These groups [extremist Islamic groups] have very strong recruitment where the local community is not very close knit. In Dewsbury, the local Muslim community is very close knit and they have been told by the imams to stay away. Instead, these groups try to by-pass the community by setting up youth groups in community centres or targeting students." The family that Khan had married into was as far from fanatically religious as it is possible to be. Hasina's mother was highly respected, a keen advocate of working women who friends said refused to accept that females should be subservient in British Asian society. She kept away from religion, neighbours said.

A widow - her husband died 15 months ago - she was retired from her support worker role at a local school. She was so admired that she had even been invited to a Buckingham Palace garden party to honour her.

A neighbour of her daughter, who declined to be named, said: "Mrs Patel is well known here. She's not religious and keeps away from the Muslim community, and that's why she chooses to live where she lives. She was the type of woman who if someone said 'women should stay at home', she would get very upset."

Yesterday, as forensic teams continued to search her house in Thornhill Park Avenue, she told a friend that the pressure of the police investigation into her son-in-law was becoming intolerable. A local councillor, Khizar Iqbal, spoke to Mrs Patel by phone yesterday morning. "She rang me to ask if I could help and assist. She said she felt immense pressure. She felt that she was being subjected to intolerable pressure. She is very, very distressed."

At the local mosques yesterday, Khan - the oldest of the bombers - was condemned. A neighbour, Anaar Sajjad, a 19-year-old student at the nearby Islamic Institute in the Savile Town district, said: "The imams have told us that everything they have done is not Islamic. Simply being a Muslim does not make him Islamic. In Islam even animals have rights, so how can it be right to kill a human being?"


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