The two suicide bombers who on April 30 bombed Mike’s Bar in Tel Aviv, leaving three dead and 60 injured, were not Palestinians. Asif Mohammed Hanif, aged 21, born and raised in Britain and living in an outer conurbation of London, and Omar Khan Sharif, 27, brought from Pakistan when he was six and raised in the industrial town of Derby, were British citizens.
Hanif, who at one time worked in a store in the duty free area of London’s Heathrow Airport and had access to the baggage handling area inside the airport (although not to luggage that had already left the building) died in the Mike’s Bar bombing. Sharif, married with two daughters and living in a fairly prosperous middle class area of Derby, survived but is on the run in Israel. Apparently, his jacket failed to explode when he pushed the button. Being the subject of a massive Israeli manhunt, he will be seeking help from terrorist organisations in Palestine. Authorities believe both men may have been associated with al-Qaeda. It shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise that Sharif was doing well enough to live in a nice home. According to a likely profile that the Israeli security forces have draw up, suicide bombers are often educated, with university qualifications, and not are not the illiterate nitwits most of the world imagines them to be. Hanif grew up in a quiet London suburb, was a good student, studied business, and left home for university – possibly for Damascus University (details are not clear as of this writing).
Sharif’s parents, who had brought their family of six from Pakistan to Britain when Sharif was a small child, were westernised to the extent of wearing only western clothes and only speaking English, even in their home. Sharif senior was a successful businessman, and all six of the children were sent to good private schools, although Omar Khan Sharif was an unruly pupil and may have been kicked out; for whatever reason, he finished his education at state schools, where he was described as "a handful." However, he went on to become a successful computer engineer. Again, a far cry from the disaffected, unassimilated, ill-educated personality most westerners believe terrorists to be.
As far as we can gather as of this writing, neither man had given any sign beforehand of being interested in fundamentalist Islam and their families and neighbors in Britain have professed themselves stunned. Neither attended one of the radical mosques that spew fundamentalist hatred unhampered by British authorities – or at least, not as regular members of the congregation. Both had seemed to friends and neighbors to be unassuming, run-of-the-mill young men, although, about Sharif, one observant Muslim neighbor said he thought the whole family was on the fundamentalist side. (Strange, as they were brought up to be totally western.) "The people who live [in the house] are friendly enough but they are very religious. It would be fair to describe them as fundamentalists. They worship at a different mosque from anyone else around here. They did not mix with many people, even other Asians."
How they met – one from outer London and one from a completely different area of the country is a mystery, although it has been suggested that al-Qaeda has been recruiting in Britain. We do know that failed British shoe bomber Richard Reid had been actively involved in recruiting for al-Qaeda in 2001.
According to a source in Israel, so far, the Israelis can tell us that one of them spent four months in Syria preparing for the operation. (This may have been Hanif, under cover of attending Damascus University.) His partner joined him in the second week of April after taking a circuitous route through Europe. Together, they were led by a Hamas or Hizballah guide through Jordan to the Allenby Bridge crossing into the West Bank and Israel, entering on their British passports. (There is no need for foreigners to be recruited as suicide bombers, as the Palestinian terrorist organisations have all the cannon fodder they need locally. But what they lack is the ability to get them though the defences of the Israeli army and police. Over the past year, Israeli security forces have been successful in foiling most attempted suicide bombings, pointing to the fact that, for getting through checkpoints, a British or other foreign passport is of infinitely more value.)
After entering Israel, a taxi drove the two bombers to the Gaza Strip. There, Hanif and Sharif laid low for about two weeks as guests of a Hamas cell that also numbers Hizballah operatives. The two-man team was given its mission by a Damascus-based controller, Imad al-Alami, a Hamas operations officer closely associated with the Lebanese Hizballah. Again, according to Israeli intelligence sources, their explosive, which had been smuggled in in a copy of the Koran, was not familiar to Israeli authorities and was not detected. That a new, undetectable explosive is in circulation has given rise to fears for airline security.
A Palestinian eye witness claims to have seen them both at a protest march in Rafah in memory of Washington wafer Rachel Corrie.
Both men, it came out today, were known to British intelligence. MI5 (read MI- 5, not M-15) officers investigating Islamic terrorism identified them as they investigated the hard-line al-Muhajiroun movement, but did not place them under constant surveillance after judging that they were on the fringes of the group. However, the Israeli authorities have asked British intelligence whether the two terrorists are on their lists of Muslim extremists. If they were suspected of extremist activities in the UK, the British will be asked why they were allowed to travel abroad. If their departure was recorded, then British intelligence will have to explain why the intelligence agencies fighting Middle East terror were not given the alert. One might also ask, how did people who were suspicious enough to warrant being monitored by British intelligence manage to get hold of British passports, holders of which have to prove that they are of good character to the issuing British Home Office? The mandarins at the Home Office, however, like their confreres at State, tend to walk the walk and talk the talk of the Arab Street.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, senior detectives have claimed that Sharif was a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a radical Islamic group that attempts to unite all Islamic states under a single regime and is banned in a number of countries. Hizb ut-Tahrir, whose name means Liberation Party, is outlawed in Egypt and also, this year, in Germany, due to its anti-Israel message. Founded in 1953 with the aim of bringing all Muslims under a single caliphate, it is known to be on a recruitment drive in British universities.
MI5 officers told the paper that the security service knew for several years that Sharif had attended meetings of al-Muhajiroun, which advocates the overthrow of Western democracies, in his home town of Derby, where the group's branch has strong support. Hanif attended meetings of the group at the Hounslow Masjid in west London, where he lived with his family. MI5 also knew that Sharif was connected to the Finsbury Park Mosque, where Abu Hamza, the radical cleric, preached until recently.
The malperformance of MI5 and the lack of political will to contain terrorist incitement in Britain is a puzzle not only to the outside world, but to the British electorate. British people want them all deported. Elsewhere in The Sunday Telegraph, Alasdair Palmer writes: Britain has become the headquarters of choice for extremist Islamic preachers, who now have a network of organisations dedicated to sowing pure hatred: hatred of the West, of democracy, and of the values of tolerance and freedom - the very values that give them the freedom to operate here. "Your task against the infidel," says one video distributed by the fundamentalists to, "is to kill their children, take their women, destroy their homes."
This virulence and hatred is allowed to be preached openly and without fear of interference by the British authorities in a couple of dozens radical mosques throughout the United Kingdom, in defiance of sanity. Over the past decade, Britain has unaccountably, and against the wishes of the British electorate, given refuge to dozens of Islamic fundamentalists wanted for terrorism in countries around the world. Before the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in 2001, the governments of France, India, Turkey, Israel, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia had all lodged protests about Britain's protection of, and refusal to extradite, known terrorists. And former Talabin fights are being accorded not just asylum, but British taxpayer legal aid, to claim, and be granted, "asylum" in Britain. Within the last few days, at least one member of the Iraqi Republican Army, which had fought against American and British armed forces and may have killed some of our armed forces, are applying for "asylum" in Britain. Doubtless, it will be granted.
Before September 11, the Government seems to have taken the view that Islamic terrorism affected Israel and the Arab countries, but not Britain - so Britain could afford to ignore it. Alasdair Palmer again: "That was a terrible mistake. But believing that we were insulated from Islamic terrorism only partly explains why the Government allowed leaders to flourish here. At least as important is the paralysis created by fear of offending the Muslim community in Britain. That fear has induced a kind of institutionalised political correctness that has prevented Government departments from taking the vigorous action that is needed."
The Home Office [equivalent to the State Department] is still very reluctant to extradite terrorist suspects. Bashir Nafi, who lectures on Islamic history at the University of London, is wanted by US authorities for "conspiracy to murder, maim or injure persons outside the United States." The evidence against him includes transcripts of his telephone calls, in which he allegedly discusses the finances of an organisation whose goal is to create "terror, instability and panic," and which has planned suicide bombings. Nafi has not been extradited from Britain. He has not even been arrested. Why? Were the shoe on the other foot, it is unthinkable that the US, Britain’s closest ally, would intentionally seek ways to block the extradiction of a suspected terrorist to Britain were it officially requested by the British government.
There’s another one, as well. Khalid al Fawwaz has been wanted by the US for his part in the bombing of its embassy in Kenya. The wrangle over whether or not to extradite him to the US had been going on for over four years. He has only just exhausted the appeals process (at a British taxpayer funded cost of £428,000 – almost $650,000). And a decision to permit this embassy-bombing terrorist’s extradition to America still hasn’t been made.
Weak, popularity-loving Tony Blair, having pandered his brains out to the Irish terrorists, just can’t get over the habit.
So it looks as though Britain, mother of Parliaments, will, grimly, become the first country to prove to the world that being nice to terrorists just doesn’t pay. India's highly regarded Intelligence Service, on the basis of interrogating members of al-Qaeda, believes that on September 11, there was a plot to hijack a British Airways plane and crash it into the British Houses of Parliament coordinated as closely as possible with the outrage at WTC. That plot only failed because by the time the plane the terrorists had chosen to hijack was scheduled to take off (5.30pm), news of the destruction of the World Trade Center had echoed around the world, and airport authorities grounded all flights. It’s a lesson the British public doesn’t need, but unfortunately its thought-fascist, politically correct leadership does.
Two nights ago, British police disclosed that six people had been arrested under anti-terrorism laws were family members or close friends of Sharif. As the police investigations continued, another friend of Sharif pledged that he would also become a suicide bomber, and said that he expected similar attacks in Britain. Shakil Mohammed, 31, who grew up in the same neighbourhood of Derby as Sharif and met him in March, said: "I would volunteer: more and more people will follow him." Mohammed and his wife, an Englishwoman who has converted to Islam, have three children. "To be a martyr in our religion is a great honour," he said. "It's only a matter of time before somebody blows themselves up in this country - that will definitely happen. I'm somebody who really believes in this, but the picture is bigger than me. We are going to make a change."