London, July 13: The four young men, one only 19 and another 22, who arrived at King’s Cross station at 8.30 am last Thursday, seemed so happy together. They were laughing and joking and carrying military-style rucksacks.
“You would think they were going on a hiking holiday,” commented a senior security source who saw them on closed-circuit television.
Without elaborate farewells, the four friends went their separate ways to blow themselves up, kill 52 other people and maim 700.
Britain is also pondering the deeper question: “But they were British, one even liked cricket, what led them to become suicide bombers'”
It seems likely the trail will lead to Pakistan.
Hasib Mir Hussain, 19, Shehzad Tanweer, 22, and Mohammed Sadique Khan, 30, were British Pakistanis from West Yorkshire.
The identity of the fourth is known to police but has not been announced. He is also thought to be British Pakistani from the same area.
Although their nationalities were British, the four lived in the parallel Pakistani universe that exists in Britain. Most who inhabit this world are normal, law-abiding citizens but a section of youth has been radicalised by events outside Yorkshire ' Britain even ' in Pakistan, Afghanistan, West Asia and eastern Europe.
At least Shehzad is known to have been to Pakistan. “He said he went to Afghanistan for a couple of months and for four months he was in Pakistan, in Lahore. I know he went with a group of people from Beeston (in Leeds), all young,” said a neighbour.
Shehzad is also as British as they come ' a cricket fanatic who helped out at his father’s fish and chip shop.
“I cannot believe it,” said his uncle Bashir Ahmed.
Today, the police are looking for the mastermind behind the operation because they do not think the four acted on their own without a wider support group. Fears are being expressed whether future suicide bombers have already been armed and instructed.
No timing devices were found when the bombs exploded, suggesting that the men were suicide bombers who detonated the explosives manually.
On Wednesday last week, the three from West Yorkshire drove to Luton railway station in a couple of hired cars. There they met the fourth man and the team caught an early morning train the next day to arrive at King’s Cross Thameslink station, about 100 yards from King’s Cross mainline station, at 8.30 am. CCTV caught them as they passed along a subway passage.
Their hired cars had been left at Luton railway station, along with some bomb-making equipment which police have now destroyed in 10 controlled explosions.
Over the next few weeks and months, a story will emerge linking these men to Pakistan, home to many militant groups, Afghanistan and the al Qaida network.