- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 4, 2005

LONDON — The chilling video message of Mohammed Sidique Khan, the British suicide bomber, was recorded in Pakistan after he was given orders to attack London, investigators with Britain’s MI5 domestic-security service said.

According to government officials, the security service is probing the theory that Khan, 30, was filmed during a three-month visit to Pakistan with fellow bomber Shehzad Tanweer. The visit began in November last year.

British investigators are working with security services in Pakistan to try to identify where the video was recorded — possibly Rawalpindi, a hotbed of terrorism close to Islamabad.

The video was broadcast Thursday by Al Jazeera, the Arabic television station.

Khan, in his native Yorkshire accent, said: “We are at war, and I am a soldier.” He blamed Britain’s involvement in Iraq for his intended suicide mission.

In part of the video not yet given to Al Jazeera, Khan is reported to have been filmed with Tanweer, 22, the second member of the July 7 suicide team that killed 52 other persons and injured more than 400.

Al Qaeda often staggers the release of video footage to gain maximum publicity.

Tanweer’s uncle confirmed in an interview that the two men had spent much time together in Pakistan before returning to Britain in February.

“They used to be up all the night talking to each other whenever Khan visited Tanweer during this period,” Tahir Pervez, Tanweer’s maternal uncle, said in an interview.

He said his nephew traveled away from his home village of Samoodran in Faisalabad, with Khan.

“Both times Tanweer went out with Khan, he told us that he was going to Rawalpindi to meet Khan’s relatives,” Mr. Pervez said.

Rawalpindi, a bustling city seven miles from Pakistan’s federal capital of Islamabad, is notorious as a hotbed of Islamic militancy. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, al Qaeda’s third-in-command and the architect of September 11 attacks on the United States, was arrested there two years ago.

Intelligence officials think that the July 7 attacks on London were the handiwork of al Qaeda.

One official said: “Even the picture background used when the interview of Khan is recorded before he carried out his suicide bombing is a typical al Qaeda signature. They have used a cloth on the wall, and this is what al Qaeda guys do whenever they have to record a statement.”

Pakistani intelligence agents believe that Khan was connected to a division known as the Osama Group. The theory developed after the authorities smashed an arm of the group last month that was using an international telephone call center to channel messages to Britain and other Western countries.

In Britain, MI5 is investigating the possibility that Khan, thought to have been his cell’s leader, traveled to Pakistan to get final instructions on what target to attack in Britain. A British official said, however, that MI5 had no evidence to support reports that the video was produced in Leeds on the eve of the July 7 attacks on three London subway trains and a bus.

“There are only two real facts on this tape: Fact one is that Khan was prepared to commit suicide in an act of terrorism, and fact two is that al Qaeda have got their hands on it,” the official said.

Investigators are trying to obtain a copy of what sources in Qatar claim is the “full video.” It is understood that Al Jazeera has been told that it contains a further commentary from Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s second-in-command, in which he refers to Queen Elizabeth II and to other planned attacks.

• Massoud Ansari in Rawalpindi contributed to this report.

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