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Trail From London to Leeds Yields Portraits of 3 Bombers

Londoners of many occupations, races and faiths gather at Trafalgar Square for a national two minutes of silence to honor the attack victims. Story, A20.
Londoners of many occupations, races and faiths gather at Trafalgar Square for a national two minutes of silence to honor the attack victims. Story, A20. (By Christopher Lee -- Getty Images)

While Khan changed his address frequently, living in several different homes in the Leeds region in the past few years, Tanweer and Hussain had spent their entire lives in Beeston and their families were fixtures in the community.

Tanweer had more advantages growing up than many of his neighbors. His father, Mumtaz Tanweer, 56, who emigrated to Leeds from Faisalabad, Pakistan, a half-century ago, is a successful merchant who has operated a number of shops over the years, including a grocery and, most recently, the South Leeds Fisheries, a fish-and-chips place.

Several other merchants in Beeston -- primarily Sikhs, Bangladeshis and Kashmiris -- said Mumtaz Tanweer was widely admired for his ability to turn a profit, while at the same time providing needed services to customers who generally didn't have a lot of money to spend.

"He's a very respected man, and it's hard to believe that his son would possibly get mixed up in something like this," said Paul Sandhir, a newsstand owner who used to run a video store next to Mumtaz Tanweer's grocery. "It's truly frightening."

Growing up, Shehzad Tanweer seemed full of promise. He graduated from high school and was scheduled to receive a degree in sports science later this summer from a local community college. This year, his father gave him a present that drew envious looks in Beeston: a used red Mercedes sedan.

According to friends, his primary passion was playing cricket, and he rarely missed a Wednesday night match at the local park. "Every time I saw him, he seemed like he was enjoying life," said Tony Miller, a fellow cricket devotee from Beeston.

While pursuing his studies, Tanweer worked part time at his family's restaurant and kept busy with other jobs. Acquaintances said he was also becoming more religious, attending prayers at the local Stratford Street mosque -- three blocks from his family's home -- several times a day.

According to relatives, Tanweer made an extended visit to Pakistan in December to study the Koran and Arabic at a religious school near Lahore. His uncle, Bashir Ahmad, said Tanweer had intended to stay for nine months but came back in February because "he didn't like the people there." The BBC, citing unidentified Pakistani officials, reported that immigration records show that Tanweer entered Pakistan on two different occasions during that period, though it was unknown what other countries he might have visited.

On July 7, Tanweer carried his rucksack onto the London Underground and died in an explosion near Aldgate station, killing seven people, London police said.

Ahmad said Tanweer's parents were in seclusion and still searching for answers. "It must have been forces behind him," Ahmad said.

Hassan Alkatib, chairman of the Leeds Muslim Forum, said many Muslim parents in hard-luck neighborhoods like Beeston struggle to give their children opportunities and keep them out of trouble. He said immigrant families in particular had to overcome rough schools and a culture that bred rebellious behavior in teenagers who do not identify with their parents' homelands but do not feel comfortable in traditional British society either.

He cited another problem, which he delicately described as "politics -- you know, how things have changed since September 11 and Iraq." And while he said many people in Leeds were angry over what they perceived as the mistreatment of Muslims around the world, he still couldn't understand what could prompt three local men to kill themselves and dozens of others in an indiscriminate attack.


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