Ex-Londoner’s diary of Jihad: A portrait sprinkled with Holy Quran verses and epithets
Daily Times Monitor
ISLAMABAD: In a small house outside the city of Peshawar, a 25-year-old man from the suburbs of London chronicled his personal holy war in the pages of a diary, reported The New York Times.
March 10, 2005, “All alone in a strange land,” the report quoted him to have written. “I can trust no-one except Allah.”
March 26. Questions how fellow Muslims can live peacefully in London when the “kufr”, non-believers, have turned every corner of the globe into “a battlefield for the Muslims.” Calls London the “vital organ of the minions of the devil,” the report quoted him.
April 5 Vows to make “an all out immense effort” to “rejoin my contingent.”
What specific operation the man, Zeeshan Siddique, was preparing for is unclear, the report said. One month later, Pakistan security forces arrested him at the house after receiving reports that he was acting suspiciously. Inside, according to a Pakistani security official, investigators found an electrical circuit that could be used as a bomb detonator; a desktop computer that contained aeronautical mapping; and the cryptic 35-page diary, typed in English, with nearly daily entries from March 2 to April 6, 2005.
The report quoted the Pakistani official as saying that he believed that Mr Siddique was waiting to be dispatched as a suicide bomber. Phone numbers found with Mr Siddique have been traced to known members of Al Qaeda, as well as British extremists involved in a failed plot to detonate bombs in London in 2004, the investigator said.
The British police are also investigating whether Mr Siddique, who was reared in Britain, had ties to the terrorist attacks in London on July 7, officials said. In particular, they are trying to determine whether a diary entry on March 13, in which Mr Siddique says he has learned that “wagon is now called off,” refers to the July 7 bombing plot.
Mr Siddique denied having played any role in the failed 2004 plot or the recent London attacks, the report quoted the Pakistani security official. Still, his diary offers a chilling, if fragmented, self-portrait of a young Muslim man not only disaffected with Western society, but with other Muslims unwilling to join in jihad.
Printed on sheets of paper from Mr Siddique’s computer, in mostly capital letters, its 35 pages are sprinkled with British slang, profanities and verses from the Holy Quran. Entries from the diary were shared with The New York Times by a Pakistani security official who insisted on anonymity because of the delicacy of the investigation. Across the top of its first page is a quote from the Holy Quran: “The greatest tests are truly to be soon alleviated,” the report said.
Based on the diary entries, he quickly grew uncomfortable, even contemptuous, of those around him after arriving at the house near Peshawar in early March.
“I can’t live in filth unlike u animals” he writes on March 8, calling a group of Pakistani neighbours “dirty geezers” and a Pakistani store owner a “monkey con artist.” He suffers bouts of diarrhoea and is unhappy with his hideaway, which has no running water.
In the same entry he also notes that a person he contacted over the Internet “seemed 2 be chickening out.” He fears he is being “conned,” and is running out of money, the report said. On March 10 he complains of isolation and not speaking the local language. “I’m constantly laughed at and ridiculed,” he wrote.
Mr Siddique has told investigators that he is from the London suburb of Hounslow and is a Muslim of Indian descent. Efforts to locate his family in Hounslow were unsuccessful. The only traces of his former life are school records and a single clipping from a Hounslow area newspaper.
The article, from November 1997, quotes the police as saying that the then 17-year-old Mr Siddique “ran off to join the mujahedeen” in Lebanon. He returned to his “frantic parents” one month later, the article says. It says Mr Sidddique suffered from “a depressive illness.”
The report said that after the British press reported his possible link to the London bombings last month, officials in Hounslow issued a statement saying he was an “ordinary, average” student at Cranford Community College there from September 1992 to July 1997. But officials also say they believe that he befriended another student at Cranford, Asid Muhammad Hanif, who blew himself up in the suicide bombing of a Tel Aviv nightclub in 2003.
“We think they were friends,” said Philip Sutcliffe, a Hounslow government spokesman.
Mr Siddique has told interrogators that he first travelled to Pakistan in February 2003 with a British Muslim who was one of eight men later arrested on suspicion of having a role in the failed 2004 London plot.
He also said he had spent two and a half months in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore with Muhammad Junaid Babar, a Pakistani-American computer programmer from Queens, according to the Pakistani security official. Mr Babar pleaded guilty last year to charges of supplying military equipment to an Al Qaeda training camp and working to aid the failed 2004 London plot.
While denying involvement in the two plots, Mr Siddique has told interrogators that he spent the last two years fighting in Afghanistan and Kashmir. His diary offers little sense of what initially drove him to extremism, but abounds with examples of how he views the world through a radical lens. He rails about Pakistanis who “claim 2 b Muslim” but “don’t get it thru their thick heads” that it is their “fard,” or religious duty, to help him wage his holy war, the report said.
On March 11, he visits people whom he identifies by code-name and learns “bad news.” “The relaxing place was done over,” he writes, and “7-8 of the guys taken whilst asleep.” “Told guys need to make a move soon,” he writes. “Cant stick round.”
On March 15 Mr Siddique is told “the situation is really bad” and he should “just sit tight and wait it out until things get a bit better.” Over the next week he gardens, listens to BBC radio news broadcasts and rejoices at the death of “Yankee pigs” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The report said that he sees himself as a valiant defender of a faith under siege. “Indeed the kafrs do possess everything at the moment but for how long,” he writes on March 23. “Indeed the armies of Islam are coming.”
The report said that on April 5 he complains about endless news coverage of the death of Pope John Paul II and predicts that “Allah will throw him in hell.”
On April 6 he celebrates the deaths of Prince Rainier of III Monaco and the American Nobel laureate Saul Bellow, whom he called a “Jew boy writer friend of Herzl,” apparently a reference to Theodor Herzl, the founder of the Zionist political movement, who died in 1904, the report said. “Excellent news,” he writes. “May Allah curse them.”
He seethes the most at Muslims he sees as aiding the West, calling them hypocrites. The report quoted him that General Musharraf, is Satan. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari of Iraq is “the dog of the hell fire.” When his spirits flag, Mr Siddique bolsters his morale by watching “vids,” apparently videos or DVD’s from the “bros” in Iraq.
Mr Siddique has told interrogators that he misses his parents in Britain, according to the Pakistani security official. But he believes that the only way he can spend eternity with them is by becoming a martyr.
“Do not waver or become weak,” he writes in one of his last diary entries. “This is the only way I can be reunited with Mummy and Daddy.”