Events around date of publication of this item.
The trail of death that led from Britain to Israel
: The trail of death that led from Britain to IsraelBy
: Cahal Milmo Justin Huggler Nigel Morris Arifa Akbar Published in
: The IndependentDate of issue
2 May 2003Topic(s) addressed
: Commentary Abstract
Each morning, the rotund figure of Asif Mohammed Hanif left this ordinary house in suburban London to make his way under the scream of jets landing at Heathrow airport to attend business studies classes at a nearby college.
Some 140 miles away, in the heart of Derby, Omar Khan Sharif, a quietly devout Muslim and respected father of two children, would be seen walking from his house to the Jamia Hanfia Taleem mosque to offer up his daily prayers. On the way back, he would pop in at a local corner store for a chat.
They were the ordinary lives of two men in modern Britain – one was planning a career in business, the other was dedicating himself to work within the small Pakistani community where had spent all but two years of life.
Then they disappeared. Hanif, 21, announced three years ago that he was going to Damascus to study Arabic. Sharif, 27, was last seen in Derby just over a month ago.
When they resurfaced, in Tel Aviv, Israel, it was to establish two murderous and extraordinary firsts amid the smoking ruins of Mike's Place at 1am on Wednesday.
The two unremarkable men in their unremarkable houses had staged the first suicide mission launched from Gaza in the 31 months of the intifada by blowing up a packed bar, leaving three people dead and more than 60 wounded.
More significantly, the first attack carried out in the name of the Palestinian cause by two people wholly foreign to it.
The ramifications of their actions were being felt yesterday across the political power centres from London and Washington to Jerusalem and Damascus and to the two nondescript streets in Hounslow and Derby from where the bombers had come.