Ordinary men suspected of extraordinary terrorist plot

THE youngest are 17 and the oldest is 35. Four of them lived in leafy High Wycombe; another 14 came from the ethnic melting pot of London's east end. Another was based 120 miles away in a run-down suburb of Birmingham.

But what is alleged to have connected them is the most audacious plot to murder thousands of airline passengers by smuggling liquid explosives on board ten trans-Atlantic flights.

Yesterday, the Bank of England froze the assets of 19 of the 24 people arrested in the operation and released their names, ages and addresses.

Umar Islam, 28

Arrested in High Wycombe.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Brought up as a Christian in a West Indian family, 28-year-old Brian Young is believed to have converted to Islam around three years ago and changed his name to Umar Islam.

Although he is listed at his parents' address, his father, Lemuel Young, yesterday insisted that his son no longer lived there.

Asked about his son's arrest, Mr Young claimed he had not heard that he was in custody.

"Is that so? I haven't heard anything yet," he said.

Umar Islam is thought to have married a Muslim woman with whom he now has a young child.

Islam's mother, Sylvia Young, reacted with shock and surprise when confronted regarding her son's arrest. Mrs Young said: "I don't even believe it."

The family's next-door neighbour, Parkhash Dhanjal, 62, said she was struggling to believe that Islam could have been part of a terrorist plot. She said he began wearing traditional Muslim clothes to attend a local mosque and grew a beard following his conversion.

Assan Abdullah Khan, 21

Arrested in Banbury Road, London.

Khan's next door neighbour, 27-year-old Jessie Barker, said the police had been searching his house for the past two days.

Miss Barker, who has known the family for more than a decade, said: "I've lived next door to the family for about 11 years and I've never had a conversation with them.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"They dressed in Muslim clothes and were always very polite and said hello. It's all just come as a huge shock."

Waseem Kayani, 19

Arrested in Plomer Green Avenue, High Wycombe.

According to one neighbour, the 19-year-old was the "spitting image" of Osama Bin Laden.

One woman, who did not wish to be named, said: "When I first saw the son he was like a reincarnation of a very young Bin Laden.

"He was in full length white robe, had a full beard, very short cut hair and a little white hat.

"He went back home last year, to Pakistan I think, and came back with a wife. The only time we saw her she was in a yashmak. We haven't seen her for a long time."

Nabeel Hussain, 22

Arrested in Templeton Avenue, London.

The property is home to a couple with four grown-up children - three boys and a girl - local residents said.

An elderly man living across the road said they were originally from Pakistan and had been living at the house for at least 20 years.

He said: "The whole family has always been very polite. If they've got anything to do with this I would be very surprised.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I know them as the Hussain family but I don't know their individual names.

"I spoke to the youngest brother just the other day. He said 'hello' and asked how I was, that's the kind of people they are.

"I know one of the brothers works for the NHS, I'm not sure which. You don't see the daughter very often but when you do she always has a burkha on and the proper Muslim dress.

"I know that they are originally from Pakistan and the mother doesn't speak very good English. The boys started growing beards a couple of years ago and I know they pray locally quite a lot."

Shazad Khuram Ali, 17

Arrested in Micklefield Road, High Wycombe.

Shazad Khuram Ali was arrested after anti-terror squads stormed his home.

Neighbours said the Victorian semi had been lived in by an Asian family for around 15 years and that they did not interact much with fellow residents.

Tayib Rauf, 22

Arrested in St Margarets Road, Birmingham.

A close friend of terrorism suspect Tayib Rauf described him yesterday as an "intensely religious" young man who "lived for Islam".

Mohammad Arif, 50, said: "I have known the family for nearly 20 years and they are definitely not into terrorism.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"They prayed five times a day and would trek over to the mosque at 5am every morning. They lived for Islam and were deeply religious but peaceful."

Witnesses said police also led away Rauf's father, 52-year-old Abdul, his mother Salma and 17-year-old sister Hamza.

"When they came over to see us, Salma always had her face fully covered and the older sons have been away a lot lately," said Mr Arif.

"It's a shock. This must be a mistake, they are brilliant, peaceful people, but I suppose you don't know what people do behind closed doors."

Usman Saddique, 22

Arrested in Albert Road, London.

The Saddique family has lived in the east London suburb of Walthamstow since the late 1970s. Neighbours said Usman, 22, was an investment bank IT consultant who is married with a young child.

Assad Sarwar, 26

Arrested in Walton Drive, High Wycombe.

Former friends said Sarwar and other male members of his family used to be well known in the area, but had not been seen very much in recent years.

Philip Redfern said: "They are very quiet, they keep themselves to themselves, which is very strange because...this is a very tight community."

Neighbours also said Sarwar had attended the Muslim Education Centre on nearby Totteridge Drive where there is a prayer room and bookshop attended by many local Muslims.

Ibrahim Savant, 26

Arrested in Folkestone Road, London.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

One of at least three Mulsim converts among the suspects, Savant grew up with his English mother and Iranian father and was originally called Oliver.

Neighbours yesterday remembered a youth who loved football but had become increasingly isolated after he converted to Islam a few years ago, changing his name to Ibrahim.

"Oliver started putting on Muslim robes and growing his beard long a few years back," said next-door neighbour Paul Kleinman, 66.

Asmin Tariq, 23

Arrested in Ravenswood Road, London.

According to neighbours, the Heathrow security worker had recently become a father.

They also said he had never attracted much attention, dressed in western clothes and was clean-shaven. One neighbour said: "He is a nice bloke. Well respected."

Shamin Uddin, 35

Arrested in Alconbury Road, Stoke Newington, London

Uddin is a member of a well-known Pakistani family who are popular with neighbours in the diverse community around Alconbury Road.

Waheed Zaman, 23

Arrested in Queens Road, Walthamstow.

The biochemistry student was watching television with his sister when police swooped on his home.

A devout Muslim he was well known in the local Islamic community and was the head of the Islamic Society at the Metropolitan University, London.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He grew up in Walthamstow, across from the modern brick Masjid-e-Umer mosque.

Neighbours yesterday remembered an athletic boy with plenty of non-Muslim friends who had grown increasingly devout in recent years, wearing traditional dress and growing a beard.

Adam Khatib, 19

Arrested in Wellington Road, Walthamstow, London.

Abdul Patel, 17

Arrested in Clapton, London.

Abdula Ahmed Ali, 25

Arrested in Walthamstow, London.

Cossor Ali, 23

Arrested in London.

Tanvir Hussain, 25

Arrested in Nottingham Road, London.

Umair Hussain, 24

Arrested in High Wycombe.

Waheed Arafat Khan, 25

Arrested in Howard Road, London