The Networks of the London Bombing: Shehzad Tanweer and Jaish-e Muhammad
Anger over Guantanamo
I have been trying to trace the influences on and organizational contacts of the July 7 bombers in London.
Let me start with 22-year-old Shehzad Tanweer of Leeds. His family is originally from a Punjabi village near Faisalabad, Kottan (Chak number 477).
When he first visited his ancestral village with his father in 2002, aged 18 or 19, Tanweer was working with Tablighi Jamaat. This organization is peaceful and devotes itself to recovering lapsed Muslims for a fundamentalist version of Islam.
He stayed there again Nov.-February this past year, and by this time he had become much more strident in his views.
Peter Foster and Nasir Malick report:
‘ Tanweer was keen to discuss religious issues and often railed against America and the West, Ahmed said.
“He said bin Laden was his hero and everything he did was right,” he said. “He believed that America had made Muslims suffer all over the world.
“He also used to say about Kashmir that India was committing great atrocities against the Muslims.
“When his father in England gave him money to buy clothes he would not spend it on himself, but for buying coats for those waging the jihad in Kashmir.” ‘
Muhammad Salim also said of his cousin, ‘”Incidents like desecration of the Koran have always been in his mind,” Saleem said, referring to reported allegations that Islam’s holy book had been abused by guards at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre where the US holds suspected militants. ‘
Although 70% of the United Kingdom’s Pakistani-heritage community is from Mirpur in Kashmir, Tanweer’s family was instead from the Punjab near Faisalabad. Still, growing up in the British Pakistani community, he would clearly have imbibed strong passions on the Kashmir issue.
British India had been a united territory. But when it became independent in 1947, it split into two states, Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. Pakistan itself later split, in 1971, into Bangladesh and (West) Pakistan. The Hindu raja of Kashmir had acceded to India at partition, even though his Muslim-majority province would have preferred to become part of Pakistan. Pakistani and Indian wrangling over Kashmir resulted in wars in 1947 and 1965, and fighting there was part of the 1971 war as well. The issue contributed to dangerous tensions between the two now-nuclear powers in the late 1990s and in 2002, when they almost went to war. From 1989 and throughout the 1990s, dissident Muslims in Kashmir sought independence from Hindu India, and the Indian state replied with military force. Some 8,000 are estimated to have died in the troubles. The Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence took advantage of the troubles to press Pakistani claims on Kashmir, using militant Muslim organizations. One of these the Jaish-e Muhammad, maintained a training camp in Afghanistan, cooperated with Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda, and trained radicals to go across the Ind-Pak border and attack Indian troops.
Shehzad Tanweer was very angry about what he saw as the repression of the Muslims of Kashmir by Hindu India. He appears to have been recruited by a British cell of Jaish-e Muhammad. His anger about Kashmir became a foundation for anger about other issues, including the United States.
Reuters says that his cousin, Muhammad Saleem, said Tanweer only visited the village briefly during his last trip to Pakistan, and spent more of his time in Faisalabad at a religious school. “He was living there in a madrasa,” he said. Intelligence officials say Tanweer may have met Osama Nazir, an Islamist militant who was later arrested in Faisalabad late last year for a 2002 church bombing in the capital Islamabad. ‘
Osama Nazir is a member of Jaish-e Muhammad. He had a direct relationship to Mulla Omar and Osamah Bin Laden and had visited Afghanistan frequently when the latter two were in power there. He is accused have having masterminded plots to kill Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf. The madrasah or seminary with which he was associated in Faisalabad was Madrasah Fatih al-Quran Al-`Arabiyah. Tanweer cannot have met him on his last trip to Pakistan, from Nov. 19 , 2004 through February, since Nazir was arrested just before Shehzad Tanweer arrived in Pakistan. So if they met it would have had to be on a prior trip.
In any case, the evidence I can find is that Tanweer’s passage into terrorism began with Jaish-e Muhammad and its allies, one of which is al-Qaeda.