Teacher is identified as 'Mr K' who inspired other suicide-bombers

Mohammed Sidique Khan, 30, had links with an al-Qai'da operative, visited Pakistani religious schools run by terrorist groups and was in Israel in the year that the British Muslims Mohammed Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif arrived to blow up Mike's Place, a jazz bar on the Tel Aviv seafront.

He seems increasingly to be the charismatic "Mr Khan" whose influence the youngest bomber's family voiced fears about in the weeks before the blasts.

Khan was known to Mohammed Junaid Babar, a terrorist in US custody who pleaded guilty last year to providing material support to al-Qa'ida, according to two American intelligence officials. They have said Babar was shown photographs of the four bombers last Thursday and identified Khan as a man he met in Pakistan, from two separate photographs.

The intelligence has not been corroborated by British security services but, if true, would conflict with the initial suggestions that the London bombers were home-grown "clean-skins" completely unknown to security services.

Khan, a one-time primary school teaching assistant from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, killed six other passengers when he triggered the Edgware Road station bomb. The death toll from the four blasts reached 55 at the weekend.

Khan came to the notice of the police and the security agencies last year over an alleged plot involving a 600lb truck bomb in London but was dismissed as a mere "criminal associate" and no further investigation was done.

It is believed he took part in "low-level" criminality including credit card fraud. Investigators now believe the money raised was used for political and terrorist-related activities, something not foreseen at the time.

Khan's work as a primary school teaching assistant enabled him to join a school delegation to the House of Commons, 12 months ago. But he also went to Pakistan on more than one occasion, visiting madrassas (religious schools) run by Jaish-e-Mohammed, a group that has staged terrorist attacks in Kashmir and has ties to al-Qa'ida.

The group was allegedly banned by Pakistan after pressure from the US but continues to operate under different names. Khan is also said to have attended a madrassa run by the group Jamat-e-Islam, which is legal and has a huge network of ancillary organisations within Pakistan.

Khan's links to the Mike's Place bombing remain uncertain. Israeli security services refused to confirm or deny reports in Ma'ariv, an Israeli mass-circulation daily paper, that he visited Israel in 2003. But informed sources believe he did help plan the bombing. British security sources said they were unaware that Khan had been in Israel at the time.

The Israeli secret service, Mossad, is understood to be sharing information with its British counterparts. According to Israeli media, another British-born terrorist, the "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid, also visited Israel on a reconnaissance mission before he tried to blow up an airliner bound for Miami in December 2001. Bashir Ahmed, Shahzad Tanweer's uncle, said Khan "groomed" his nephew in a gymnasium below the Hardy Street mosque near the family's home in Beeston, Leeds. "It was below the mosque and the only adult inside was Khan. At the time, no one had a problem [with that] because he was a respected teacher," he said.

The gymnasium's equipment was funded through two £2,000 European aid grants awarded by Leeds City Council, though the council said that the local Kashmir Muslims Welfare Association ­ and not Khan ­ had applied for the grant.

Khan's emergence as a central figure behind the bombings is extraordinary, given the six months he once spent advising youngsters about the perils of drugs, a project that culminated in a brochure on the subject. The project leader said yesterday that Khan had insisted a British flag must be part of the leaflet. "I was born here and I am proud of it," he had said.

The theory that an al-Qa'ida figure known to MI5 may have slipped briefly into Britain to supervise the bombings is becoming increasingly discredited and may be a case of mistaken identity. But Magdi Mahmoud el-Nashar, who was arrested in Cairo on Friday, is still considered important to the investigation.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future