Three radicals: Jihadists with UK degrees

September 23, 2005

Omar Sheikh, who is awaiting execution in Pakistan for the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl, studied at the London School of Economics in the 1990s.

He grew up in London and was known as a troublemaker. His father relocated the family to Pakistan.

Sheikh returned to England to study and joined the LSE Islamic Society and a Muslim charity, the Convoy of Mercy, which was working in Bosnia.

Inspired by Muslim fighters in that conflict, he joined Harkat-al-Mujahideen, a Pakistani militant group in Kashmir. He attended an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan.

In 1994, Sheikh lured three British travellers to a village in India, where they spent weeks chained to a stake before being freed by police. Sheikh was linked to the shooting of five policemen in Calcutta in 2002 and named as a financier of Mohammed Atta, the suspected ringleader of the group that carried out the 9/11 attacks.

Ramadan Shallah , a Palestinian terrorist leader blamed for ordering an attack in Tel Aviv that killed five people, studied for a PhD at Durham University from 1985 to 1990.

His thesis on Islamic banking in Jordan called for the "Islamisation" of financial institutions with a ban on paying or receiving interest. His work starts with a quote from the Koran warning of a "war from Allah and his apostle" to be waged against those who persist in charging interest.

Shallah studied for his first degree at Zakazik University in Egypt. He was funded by the Muslim Brotherhood and met future Islamic movement leaders through them. He taught Middle Eastern studies at the University of South Florida before taking over as head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad after the assassination of its leader Fathi Shiqaqi.

Zacarias Moussaoui , who was arrested in Minnesota on August 16, 2001, after his flight instructor became suspicious, received a masters in international commerce from London's South Bank University.

The university said there was no record of any difficulties during his time there. His course director recalled that he was "reasonably hard- working, reasonably committed and quite quiet."

But he shed his Western interests when he attended the Finsbury Park Mosque and became radicalised. He visited Malaysia in September 2000, staying in a flat where two of the 9/11 hijackers had lived. Jemaah Islamiah, a militant Islamic group in South East Asia, provided Moussaoui with $35,000 (£19,500) and travel documents.

He has pleaded guilty to involvement in the 9/11 attacks, but says he only intended to hijack a plane to fly to Afghanistan.

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