London bomber: He loved cricket and drove his Dad’s Mercedes

July 13, 2005

* British bomber: “From cricket-lover to terrorist”
* Three generations of one family received horrific burns in yesterday’s terror attack that killed four women in Netanya, Israel – yet no mention of the word terror to be found in most of the Western media
* Completely ignored by BBC and others: Among the victims were two 16-year-old girls from Tel Aviv
* 24 children blown up Moslem fundamentalists in Iraq today – yet no mention of the word terror to be found


This is a follow-on from yesterday’s dispatches:

* The London bombs: The BBC discovers “terrorism,” briefly (July 12, 2005)

* Gaza mosque & radio station welcome the “blessed acts” in London (& other reaction) (July 12, 2005)



1. He loved martial arts and drove his dad’s Mercedes
2. “From cricket-lover who enjoyed a laugh to terror suspect” (Guardian, July 13, 2005)
3. “The cricket-loving terrorist whose father runs the local chip shop” (Daily Telegraph, July 13, 2005)
4. “Don’t want to know” (Letters to the Editor, Jerusalem Post, July 13, 2005)
5. “Politeness in the photocopier queue is why we’re losing the War on Terror” (Times of London, July 13, 2005)
6. “So whose side is the BBC on?” (Daily Mail, July 13, 2005)


[Note by Tom Gross]


Attached below are summaries of articles from today’s British press, on the middle class, British-born Muslims whom the British police now say carried out suicide attacks in London last Thursday. Shahzad Tanweer, for example, is described as a cricket-lover who enjoyed martial arts and drove his dad’s Mercedes.


The Daily Telegraph’s lead editorial today says: “It is inconceivable that, as four young men became sufficiently radicalised that they were prepared to immolate themselves and others, no one around them noticed. Someone - in a home, a mosque, a study group - must have had a suspicion of where things might be heading.”

This synopsis no doubt also applies to Ahmed Abu Khalil who blew himself up yesterday outside a Mall in the Israeli seaside town of Netanya, with 22 pounds of explosives (i.e. a much greater quantity of explosive than used in any of last week’s London bombs.)


Like the British suicide bombers, the family of Abu Khalil claim they were unaware of his intentions. They said they last saw him when he told them he was going to collect his school exam results. According to Palestinian journalists, Khalil was among those who received a pass in those exams.


Four Israeli Jewish women were murdered and at least 90 people were wounded, many horrifically, by Khalil. Among those killed were two 16-year-old girls from Tel Aviv.

Among the injured were three generations from the same family. Anna Lifshitz, 50 was seriously wounded as was her daughter Margarita Sobersky, 26. The third member of the family, Lial, who is 3 years old, was burned in the attack and hospitalized in moderate to serious condition.

None of the above information is given today in most mainstream media outside Israel.

The Netanya shopping center has been struck three times by Palestinian suicide murderers including an attack in 2001 that killed five people.


It is thought that the attack was also aimed at Jewish sportsmen and women staying in Netanya, who are taking part in the Maccabiah games there. The 17th Maccabiah games began on Monday. They are known as the “Jewish Olympics” with 7,000 Jewish competitors from 55 countries, making it (according to Reuters) the third largest sports gathering in the world behind the Olympic Games and soccer’s World Cup.


Following the bombing, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Abbas condemned the bombing as a “terrorist attack”. Even though Abbas called it “terrorism,” the BBC and Reuters described the suicide bomber as a “militant”, whilst the New York Times uses the term “Palestinian faction” to describe Islamic Jihad. The Guardian today uses its report on the bomb as an excuse to label Israeli settlements as “colonies.”

The bomb in Netanya caused particularly severe injuries because it was packed with nails and small iron balls. Loss of life was limited because the bomber was unable to get past the “checkpoint” at the entrance to the mall. He instead approached a group of French teenage girls (tourists in Israel) near the entrance to the mall and blew himself up near them, according to Israeli media reports.

As usual, the reporting today on BBC world service contains much misinformation as well as utter garbage. The emphasis, as is par for the course in BBC misreporting, is how horrible Israel is, with the implication that Jewish Israelis have brought being killed and burned upon themselves. The BBC also says there have been no Palestinian attacks for five months. There have in fact been dozens of attacks. Most were thwarted (such as the attempt on Beersheva hospital) but some resulted in several deaths in this period. The last attack before yesterday’s Netanya bomb came just one hour earlier, at Shavei Shomron, although alert Israeli security forces managed to prevent that suicide bomber yesterday causing any injury to anyone other than himself.


Today in Iraq 24 children were murdered by a suicide bomber who drove a car laden with explosives into some US soldiers handing out sweets to the children. The BBC again fails to call this a terrorist attack, instead blaming militants, which is not in and of itself a negative word.


Following my article in The Jerusalem Post yesterday (The BBC discovers “terrorism,” briefly), there has been much analysis on the way the BBC and AP covered last Thursday’s bombs in London. The article has been cited on dozens of blogs, and radio stations across America, today. (I have been interviewed by three myself.) I also attach below articles today by Daniel Finkelstein in the Times of London, and by Stephen Pollard in the Daily Mail (London). Both criticize the BBC, and Finkelstein also criticizes AP, and both articles contain close similarities to my article, research and dispatch of yesterday, even though neither writer cites my work. Both writers are subscribers to this email list.

-- Tom Gross


INFORMATION ON 7/7 BOMBERS (Extracts only)


From cricket-lover who enjoyed a laugh to terror suspect
By Sandra Laville and Ian Cobain
The Guardian
July 13, 2005,16132,1527429,00.html

Ten days ago Shahzad Tanweer, a 22-year-old British Asian, was playing cricket in the local park with his friends. It was something he loved to do. He was a sporty young man who loved martial arts, drove his dad’s Mercedes and had many friends in the Beeston area of Leeds.

“He is sound as a pound,” said Azi Mohammed, a close friend. “The idea that he was involved in terrorism or extremism is ridiculous. The idea that he went down to London and exploded a bomb is unbelievable.

“I only played cricket in the park with him around 10 days ago. He is not interested in politics.”

... “Shahzad went to a few mosques around here but he was more interested in his jujitsu. I trained with him all the time; he is really fit.”

According to family and friends Shahzad, despite his secular appearance, went to many mosques but was a regular at the Bangali mosque on Dewsbury Road near his home…

Shahzad was the product of parents who worked hard to build a business after arriving in Britain from Pakistan. As a little boy he played in the streets and alleyways of the culturally mixed working class community of red brick Victorian houses in Colwyn Road which his family made home when he was seven.

Neighbours say they recall him as a smiling boy who would play cricket and football with his friends and his brother on the streets. His father’s business grew steadily from a small curry takeaway in Beeston, which he owned with Mr Afzal, to a popular fish and chip shop…

His mother, Parvez Akhtar, and father are respected in Beeston. “They are all good people. All Shahzad wanted to do was to have a laugh,” said Azi.

In Stratford Street, Beeston, a friend of Hasib Hussain, another of the suspected bombers, said he was very tall and known as a gentle giant.

... He added that Hasib had travelled to the hajj - the Muslim pilgrimage – in Mecca.


THE CRICKET-LOVING TERRORIST WHOSE FATHER RUNS THE LOCAL CHIP SHOP (Chips is the British term for French, or Freedom, fries – TG)

The cricket-loving terrorist whose father runs the local chip shop
By Paul Stokes and Nick Britten
The Daily Telegraph
July 13, 2005

... Hasib Hussain, 18, was the younger of two brothers whose family originated from Pakistan.

Their house in a sloping red-brick terrace block in Colenso Mount, Holbeck, Leeds, was sealed off by police for examination…

Shehzad Tanweer, 22, was the son of a local businessman, who locals said had been to university to study a sports science degree and trained in tai kwon do and judo.

He was born in Bradford and is believed to have attended Lawnswood comprehensive school in Leeds. According to friends he was non-political and shunned Muslim dress, preferring to wear jeans and T-shirts.

He had two sisters and lived with his father Mohammed and mother Parveen in a large house, converted from a pair of semi-detached properties, in Colwyn Road, Beeston, Leeds.

The road was cordoned off and a silver Mercedes remained parked on the drive as police teams searched the premises last night…

Mr Tanweer Snr, who bought the property in 1990, runs the South Leeds Fishery fish and chip shop nearby. Azzy Mohamed, 21, who knew Shehzad Tanweer, said: “Shazzy is the best lad I have ever met. He’s a top guy and a top lad.

“We play cricket together, he’s a bowler and a batsman…




Don’t want to know
Letters to the Editor
Jerusalem Post
July 13, 2005

Sir, – In London last week on business, I too was struck by the almost lackadaisical attitude of both the British media and people to the bombings (“The BBC discovers terrorism,” July 11). Most striking was the almost total lack of anger toward the terrorists. Indeed, the media and others treated the attacks more as a crime committed by individuals than as terrorism committed by an organized group. Whenever I mentioned Islamists or Muslims I was chided for being presumptuous. What I did sense was a sadness, reminiscent of Princess Di’s death.

I came away believing that the British are not prepared to fight the global war on terror because they do not accept the fact that they are in a war. Nor do they want to acknowledge that they have an enemy in their midst.

Phil Goodman
Edison, New Jersey



Politeness in the photocopier queue is why we’re losing the War on Terror
By Daniel Finkelstein
The Times of London
July 13, 2005,,21129-1691644,00.html

I’m furious. According to the Associated Press and an assorted mixture of internet nutters, the Israelis were tipped off about the London attacks moments before they happened. Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was able to change his plans to visit a hotel directly above one of the blast sites. It’s a repeat of the old canard about 9/11. You know the one — the Jews had been warned and stayed away from the World Trade Centre.

You can see why I’m cross. If the Israeli Government knew, why didn’t they tell me? Don’t they regard me as a sufficiently important intelligence asset? Mossad was, it seems, willing to leave it to chance that I took the car in last Thursday. Uncharacteristically sloppy, I’d say.

Not many people in this country believe this barmy conspiracy theory, but I think its very existence is telling us something. In fact I think it is telling us why, for all the coverage about stiff upper lips and stoic Londoners, we are losing the War on Terror.

I’m not the first person to say this, of course. It is quite common to make this point and to argue that George Bush and Tony Blair are to blame. But I’ve got a rather different culprit in mind. Actually this is a bit embarrassing, because we don’t know each other very well and we’ve always rubbed along fine until now, but I think the real culprit is . . . well, I think it is you.

Let me start in the queue for the photocopier. Ellen Langer, the distinguished Harvard social psychologist, conducted a fascinating experiment in just such a queue. Addressing her fellow queuers in the library, she said: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” Surprisingly 60 per cent of those asked complied and let her push to the front. Then, with other groups, she tried a different tack: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush.” You won’t be surprised to learn that this time 94 per cent let her by. After all, “I’m in a rush” is a decent reason for seeking a favour.

But now get this. Langer also tried asking: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies.” This time 93 per cent complied. In other words, it wasn’t the quality of the reason she gave that led people to agree to her request, but the mere fact that she provided a reason at all.

We are desperate to understand why things happen and to make sense of whatever reason we are given, even when there is no reason worth making sense of. And ever since 9/11 this hunger for understanding has let us down. This week we have all talked about how life goes on unchanged and how nobody can push us around and how we must never give in to terrorism, as if the events of the past four years haven’t given the lie to every one of these propositions.

Few Westerners may subscribe to the “Jews did it” theory (though a vast number of Arabs do) but other, hardly more credible, “reasons” have attracted much greater support. It was Bush’s fault, it was Blair’s fault, it was the fault of American policy in the Middle East, it was the fault of all of us who have done nothing about the desperation of alienated Muslims. So many seem incapable of accepting that these things happen just because criminals do criminal things. It is no more interesting to understand their reasoning than to find out what the Yorkshire Ripper thinks about prostitutes.

And the more we search for reasons, the more we have aided the terrorists. For our political collapse, the collapse in public resolve since 9/11, has been quite astonishing. That’s what I mean when I say it’s all your fault.

Let’s do the maths. Ultimate victory may be beyond the terrorists’ reach. Apart from anything else I’m not sure they would realise they had won even when it was all over. But just because they can’t win, doesn’t mean we can’t lose. And I believe that is exactly what we are doing.

The past four years have seen Europeans turn against America, Nato teeter on the verge of collapse and the Government of Spain fall as the direct result of a terrorist outrage. Tony Blair, so brave in his response to terror, had to creep back to No 10 after the election, badly damaged, his political base cracked.Israel, always controversial, is now commonly talked about as if it were a pariah state.

Most astonishing of all has been our loss of self-confidence. On Thursday night, as the weblog Harry’s Place has observed, the BBC website ran an article headlined “Bus man may have seen terrorist”. By the next morning the headline appeared as “Passenger believes he saw bomber”. Another page on the site referred to “the worst terrorist atrocity Britain has seen”. By Friday lunchtime these words became “the worst peacetime bomb attacks Britain has seen”.

And this wasn’t an accident. Editors were following Section 11 of the BBC’s editorial guidelines which read: “The word ‘terrorist’ itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should try to avoid the term.” What is this, if not a disastrous loss in confidence? Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers puts up £9,000 (remember this figure the next time you are told that it is impossible to cut public spending without damaging services) to finance a Muslim extremist to travel to Britain and speak at a conference. We need him, say the Met, to contribute to “a debate into dealing with tensions in communities”.

So I’m afraid I can’t join into the orgy of self-congratulation that has followed the London bombings.

Yes, they struck close to home for many people and, of course, it is impressive that so many Londoners have been ready to get back on the Tube and travel to work. I can quite see why many find it frightening. All this was brave, the Blitz spirit, something to be proud of. But politically we have not been so brave, so immovable. And, barking though they may be, I think the terrorists can see this.

It is always difficult to counsel that we should understand less, be less curious. Yet in the War on Terror, to understand less is to comprehend more.



So whose side is the BBC on?
By Stephen Pollard
Daily Mail (London)
July 13, 2005

For years, the BBC has been infected by a left-liberal bias. Its reporting, for example, of the arguments over the future of the EU has made out that those in favour of ever-greater European integration are peace loving sages, as opposed to those who believe in self-government who are, by definition, xenophobic bigots.

That bias, real as it is, has often been subtle. Let the BBC’s reports wash over you without paying full critical attention and you might not even notice it.

But the distorted way in which the BBC has reported the terrorist murders in London is of a different order of magnitude altogether.

In the immediate moments after the murders, it seemed as if something might have changed for the better. The murderers were, rightly, described by BBC reporters as terrorists. The BBC’s website had a page with the headline, “Bus man may have seen terrorist”. The story began, “A bus passenger says he may have seen one of those responsible for the terrorist bomb attacks in London.” Another page referred to “the worst terrorist atrocity Britain has seen.”

The use of the word terrorist was surprising, but welcome. Surprising, because in its coverage of terrorism in Israel, the BBC has consistently described the suicide murderers who blow up buses, with the specific intent of murdering as many Israelis as possible, as ‘extremists’ or ‘militants’. The word terrorist never passes correspondents’ lips.

So to see the BBC describe Thursday’s murderers as terrorists looked like a rare example of the corporation using accurate descriptions of terrorists.

It did not last long. By Friday, those web pages had been edited to excise all references to terrorism. The first page had a new headline: “Passenger believes he saw bomber”. The story was changed to: “A bus passenger says he may have seen one of those responsible for the bomb attacks in London.” And the second story now read: “the worst peacetime bomb attacks Britain has seen.”

No mention of terrorism was anywhere to be seen.

But for all the warped values which led to such changes, the edits merely affected the BBC’s own words. What the corporation did to the Prime Minister’s words in the House of Commons on Monday, however, was simply shocking.

Mr Blair told MPs this: “It seems probable that the attack was carried out by Islamist extremist terrorists…” The BBC’s report of Mr Blair’s statement is a wilful distortion: “Those responsible…, probably Islamic extremists, would be hunted down.” The Prime Minister referred to them specifically as terrorists. But the BBC deliberately left out that most important word.

And it did not even report Mr Blair’s conclusion: “Together, we will ensure that though terrorists can kill, they will never destroy the way of life we share and which we value, and which we will defend with the strength of belief and conviction so that it is to us and not to the terrorists, that victory will belong.”

There were, presumably, simply too many references to terrorists for the BBC to concoct even a distorted report.

In the BBC mindset, the murderers are not terrorists. As its Editorial Guidelines puts it: “Our credibility is undermined by the careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgements. The word ‘terrorist’ itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding.”

The bombers, as the BBC insists they be called, merely have a different world view from the rest of us, you see. Indeed, the guidelines say, “we recognise our duty to protect the vulnerable and avoid unjustified offence or likely harm. We aim to achieve this by ensuring our output is not used to denigrate the beliefs of others.” How awful it would be if mass murdering Islamists were offended or denigrated by being called terrorists.

But terrorism is not a value judgement. It is recognised as a crime against humanity under international law. Professor Norman Geras defines it as “the deliberate targeting of civilians with a view to killing and maiming them and if possible in large numbers”. To describe Thursday’s bombers as terrorists is merely to observe the reality of human rights law.

This is, of course, about far more than labels. The refusal to use the word terrorist goes to the heart of the BBC’s world view, in which such murders are simply a response to the West’s provocation.

It is all our fault, according to the BBC’s ‘experts’. On Friday night, a Newsnight correspondent, Peter Marshall, informed us that “What the war on terror was supposed to prevent, it has brought about.”

That is the least of it. Frank Gardner, the BBC’s Security Correspondent, has been lauded for his return to work after being shot by terrorists – oh, excuse me, militants - in Saudi Arabia. His undoubted bravery ought, however, not to prevent his analysis of Thursday’s events from being exposed for what it is.

Speaking on Radio 4 on Monday, Mr Gardner declared that Western policies in Muslim countries, and ‘harassment’ of suspected Islamists in Britain and Europe, was ‘offensive’ to Wahabis. But what Wahabis find offensive is the very existence of the West, which they are committed to destroying.

He then remarked that that it was extraordinary that they planted a bomb in Edgware Road, since this was a Muslim area. Yet not only did they not plant a bomb there (it went off in a moving train), they have as long a track record of murdering Muslims as they do of killing apostates.

Mr Gardner concluded that it was “doubly tough for Britain’s Muslims…it’s more of a blow for them than for everyone else”. Really? The relatives and friends of the victims might disagree with that.

There is much, much more of this sort of thing – not least the ludicrous BBC series, The Power of Nightmares, broadcast at prime time, which sought to prove that, in the words of its producer, the threat of global terrorism, “is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services, and the international media”.

Last Thursday did not happen, it would seem. It was all an illusion.

If the BBC was just another broadcaster, forced to compete for an audience, we could choose whether or not to support it. Instead, each of us is forced, under threat of imprisonment, to pay for it to broadcast its distortions of the threat we face. We have had to put up with this bias for too long. It is time the BBC was held to account for its behaviour.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.