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London bomber worked for Govt

Mohammad Sidique Khan worked for the Department of Trade and Industry, reports Nabanita Sircar.

india Updated: Mar 11, 2006 19:54 IST
Nabanita Sircar
Nabanita Sircar

One of the July 7 London bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan worked for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), helping promote British firms overseas.

He also helped Leeds police deal with confrontations between rival gangs of youths.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Independent has obtained files from Leeds education authority which shows details of Sidique's work for the DTI's export arm in Yorkshire in the mid-1990s, when Britain was seeking more trade links with Asia.

However investigations reveal that Khan lied on his CV about the seniority of his role at the DTI, which escaped the Leeds primary school that hired him on the basis of it. But he did help in the government-led drive to get more trade missions off the ground between 1995 and 1996.

Khan prospered as a primary school learning mentor, but his file also charts his sharp decline from 2003. Prolonged absences from school - when it is now known he was visiting Pakistan - were followed by an unexpected failure to return from extended sick leave in 2004.

He was told his pay was being stopped and he sent an undated typewritten letter to the head teacher, Sarah Balfour. "I'm sorry I've not been in touch for a while," he wrote. "A lot has happened in the last few months. There is no definite timeframe to when I will return. We are returning next week. Unfortunately this is a letter of resignation from my post."

Before Khan took his job with the DTI in August 1995, he had been on a trip to the US. Friends said he came back with cowboy boots and a leather jacket, telling his contemporaries he wanted a career in the US. He became an administration assistant with the Benefits Agency, which he said was dull.

The DTI offered better prospects. His file reveals that Khan left to study at Leeds Metropolitan University in September 1996, and took a 2:2 in business management, his file reveals.

According to his file, Khan became disenchanted with the modest form of Islam practised by his father, Tika Khan and stepmother, Mamida Begum. And in 1999 he had started frequenting the mosque. The process to radical Islam started by 2002, a year after he joined Hillside. He began taking leave on religious grounds. He took more than two weeks in January/February 2002 for "Muslim religious obligation, Haj, pilgrimage" and a similar period for "religious observances" the next year.

From November 2003, he took 18 months, costing his employer an estimated £6,000.

In September 2004 he was signed off sick, first for three days, then a further 10 days, a further three weeks and another three weeks. He is believed to have cited depression. On December 9, 2004, after 10 weeks of absence began, Balfour told her personnel department in an "urgent" memo: "Sidique Khan should have provided the school with a sick note from November 22. Despite several letters reminding him of the school's sickness-reporting procedures he has failed to provide a sick-note. I request you to stop [his] pay."

Three days before, Khan had flown to Pakistan via Istanbul with Shahzad Tanweer. A week later, they took a train to Lahore then Faisalabad and disappeared, Pakistani security officers said. They surfaced in Britain on February 8.

MI5 believes they met Muslim extremists during the visit. Khan died, killing seven others, when he detonated his bomb at Edgware Road station on July 7.

First Published: Mar 11, 2006 19:54 IST