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Bomber’s father looks for answers

Islamabad/London, Oct. 30: The father of Shehzad Tanweer, the first of the July 7 suicide bombers to be buried, has spoken for the first time of the “awful” events that claimed the lives of 52 innocent people.

Mohammed Mumtaz Tanweer, 56, from Leeds, said he and his family remained mystified by the motivation for this summer’s terrorist attacks on three London Tube trains and a bus by four British suicide bombers.

Tanweer was speaking after he had taken the body of his son to Pakistan for burial last week in his home village.

The 22-year-old bomber killed himself and seven others when he detonated a device hidden in a rucksack at Aldgate station.

Tanweer said in his first interview since the terrorist attacks: “All the bombings and killings were awful. Only the group of four (bombers) or God alone knows why they carried out this terrible act.”

Shehzad, who looked upon Osama bin Laden as his hero, was born and brought up in West Yorkshire, yet he was somehow won over to al-Qaida’s war on the West. His father said: “As far as I can understand, my son was more British in his orientation than anything else. He has planned his career in sport. Even on the night before he died, he was playing cricket.”

Tanweer said his son was entitled to a proper burial, although the family now intends to discover why he became a suicide bomber.

The July 7 attacks killed 56 people and injured more than 700 others. “My first priority was obviously to bring his dead body to our ancestral graveyard for the burial,” he said. “Since I’m able to do this only now, I would soon try to find out the reasons (for the suicide mission) and will tell the world.”

The terrorist’s remains were handed over to his parents on Tuesday. They brought them to the village of Chak-477 in Samoondran, a town in southern Punjab province which owes its unusual name to the system of irrigation divisions devised by the British in colonial times.

The dead man’s mother, Parveen Akhtar, who accompanied the body, along with Shehzad’s younger brother and his two sisters, “cried uncontrollably”.

At least 300 villagers and relatives attended the funeral prayer. There was silence as the body was laid to rest in a wooden coffin on Thursday morning in his family’s home village.

Tanweer, sat cross-legged in the courtyard of his family house to accept condolences from relatives and friends.

Later, speaking in a Yorkshire accent, he accused the British media of “highly biased” and “treacherous” account of the bombings and of “hate reporting” against Muslims. “They have called us murderers, killers, slaughterers and assassins. What worse can they do'”

Shehzad had travelled to Pakistan in November with Mohammad Sidique Khan, another of the bombers and their suspected ringleader. The two men spent three months there before returning to Britain.

MI5, the security service, suspects that it was during this visit that Khan recorded a video message which was broadcast by al-Jazeera, the Arabic television station, in September.

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

It is not known what will happen to the remains of Khan and the other bombers now that they have been released by Westminster coroner’s court. However, Khan’s family is seeking a second post-mortem examination by an independent pathologist.

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