Absence of youngest killer suggests he was just a pawn

His failure to take part in the reconnaissance mission on 28 June contributes to the theory that he was a peripheral figure in the run-up to the attacks and was possibly uncertain about his role in the bombings.

While the other two bombers from Leeds - Mohammad Sidique Khan and his close friend Shahzad Tanweer - made directly for the Tube trains which they were to blow up on 7 July, further evidence emerged yesterday that a possibly indecisive Hussain may have struggled to bring himself to follow suit.

The 18-year-old was supposed to get on a northbound Northern line service on the morning of the attacks but failed to do so, despite the availability of northbound trains from King's Cross. It has now become clear that after wandering out of King's Cross at 8.50am to get a phone signal, frantically trying to call his fellow bombers and eventually entering a McDonald's for his last meal, he walked towards Euston station before boarding a bus in that direction. This became caught up in the heavy traffic that followed soon after the Tube blast. Police believe it was then that he decided to board the No 30 Tavistock Square bus, where he detonated a bomb that killed 13 people.

Hussain, who was by far the youngest of the four bombers, has always seemed the odd one out of the Leeds triumvirate. The ringleader, Khan, and the highly driven Tanweer were motivated Jihadists who had visited Pakistan several times to develop their radical Islamic ideas. But Hussain had only visited the country once, to attend his brother's wedding.

Neither was he one of the 15-strong core of the so-called Mullah Crew of Asians from the Beeston district of Leeds which helped Asian youths to live clean lives in line with a strict Muslim faith. Khan and Tanweer were part of this group. The Crew attracted a large number of youths who were pushed towards radical Islam and Hussain seems to have been one of those they "saved".

A number of sources in Beeston suggest that until the summer of 2004, Hussain was known for his clubbing and occasional drug-taking before starting his association with the Crew.

Khan's and Tanweer's close friend in the Hussain family was, in fact, Hasib's brother Imran, who once counted "Sid" (as he knew Sidique Khan) as one of his closest friends.

It seems to be no coincidence that Hussain was also the only member of the Leeds bombing triumvirate not to join the white-water rafting "bonding trip" to Bala in north Wales,shortly before the 7 July attacks.

Hussain's family remains sceptical that he could have been a bomber - and their belief that he might have been a bomb victim, rather than a participant, led his mother, Maniza, to report him missing on July 7.