Documentary reveals London bomber's westernised youth

Click to follow

The suspected ringleader of the 7 July bombings spent years trying to shake off his Pakistani-Muslim identity, and tried to present himself as westernised, according to a BBC documentary.

Mohammad Sidique Khan, known as Sid, dreamed of going to America, displayed minimal interest in Islam and was "very English", according to friends interviewed for the programme.

Khan was ostracised by his family after marrying a Hindu woman, Hasina. Friends also told the documentary-makers that Khan showed no interest in attending a mosque.

Rob Cardiss, a school friend, told last night's radio documentary Biography of a Bomber that Khan "seemed to have more white friends than Asian friends [and] ... used to hang around with white lads playing football."

Mr Cardiss said: "He was very English. Some of the other Pakistani guys used to talk about Muslim suffering around the world but with Sidique you'd never really know what religion he was from."

Khan's one-time best friend talked about how Khan's marriage to Hasina affected him. "His family wanted nothing to do with him after that," he friend. "How can someone prepared to go through all that explode a bomb in the name of Islam?" he asked.

Khan's rapid radicalisation came in adulthood, when he became friendly with a group of radicals from Leeds and Huddersfield, west Yorkshire, the associates suggest. In the months before Khan detonated the Edgware Road bomb, killing himself and six others, the group often watched violent videos depicting Muslim suffering around the world and went on paintballing trips immediately afterwards.

A member of the group said: "Looking back on it now, I do find it a bit weird that we had such a viewing. I can see why some youth would be affected by this - they get fired up, they get stirred up - and having the airing of that video might not have been in the best interests of certain people."

Other Yorkshire Muslims say Khan's tight-knit group inveigled their way into the youth community by helping Muslims off alcohol and drug addiction. Germaine Lindsay, the King's Cross bomber, and Shahzad Tanweer, the Aldgate bomber, are also thought to have joined the group.

Khalid said Khan's last visit to Pakistan was to join up with jihadi fighters: "I heard it frequently that he was going overseas for military training."