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Explosives recovered from Pak suicide bomber's home

November 28, 2003 14:26 IST

Explosives have been removed from the home of the Pakistani suicide bomber suspect arrested by British anti-terrorist police in Gloucester.

Police believe the UK-born Sajid Badat is linked to the Al Qaeda through shoe bomber Richard Reid, who tried to bring down an airliner en route from Paris to Miami.

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Reid trained at one of Osama bin Laden's camps on the Afghan border with Pakistan.

Reid and another British Pakistani, Daniel Pearl killer Omar Sheikh, are both members of the notorious Jaish-e-Mohammed off shoot, Jamaat Al Furkhan, which was recently banned by the Pakistani authorities.

Badat's arrest comes less than a week after the suicide bomb attacks in Istanbul, which killed 30, including UK consul general Roger Short, and wounded another 450.

British anti-terrorist experts say they do not know what Badat's potential targets in the UK were, but there is speculation that his range of targets included a member of the British royal family, the GCHQ intelligence headquarters in nearby Cheltenham and a football stadium.

It turns out that Badat spent the last five years in Pakistan and has been under surveillance ever since he returned to Britain.

Last night, after his home in St James Street, Gloucester, was raided, police evacuated more than 100 families living nearby as bomb disposal experts brought in sniffer dogs to search for more explosives.

Earlier on Friday morning, the families were allowed to return to their homes. "We are confident there is no longer a danger posed by explosives on the premises," a police spokesman told

A pregnant Englishwoman who was among those evacuated described how she left with her young son still in his pyjamas. "It's very scary, you just wonder how many more are around," said Sarah Green.

Police are still guarding the entrance to an Islamic college in Lancashire that Badat attended. The College of Islamic Knowledge and Guidance in Blackburn stands next to a mosque under construction.

Ibrahim Master, chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, confirmed Badat had been a student at the college. He said that nothing had been found at the college in connection with the arrest.

Security sources have told that Badat had been under surveillance for a considerable length of time and a special team was assigned to monitor him during President George Bush's recent state visit to the UK.

As a result of the surveillance, the country was placed on the second highest level of security alert.

Commenting on Badat's arrest, British Home Secretary David Blunkett said, "I'm very pleased that the security and intelligence and Special Branch services have been able to apprehend this individual.

"We will know shortly from the forensic scientists the exact nature of the materials obtained in the raid and the nature of the connections that this individual has with the wider Al Qaeda network.

"It is the belief of the security and Special Branch services that this man has connections with the network of Al Qaeda groups.

"Obviously the forensic evidence will be absolutely crucial here and I do not want to in any way damage the future trial,  but we would not have taken these steps if we did not believe that this individual posed a very real threat."


Shyam Bhatia in London