Sweden bomber 'stormed out' of British mosque
The suspected Swedish suicide bomber "stormed out" of the mosque he attended in Britain after he was tackled over his extremist opinions, the chairman of the mosque said Monday.
Qadeer Baksh, chairman of the Luton Islamic Centre in Luton, said Taymour Abdelwahab was a "bubbly character" but his behaviour had alarmed fellow worshippers.
Baksh told AFP: "I had to confront him three or four times because his views were so extreme.
"He was saying physical jihad was an obligation for all Muslims and saying that Muslim scholars are unreliable and untrustworthy because they are in the pockets of governments.
"Each time I talked to him and rebutted what he was saying, and each time I left him, I felt I had changed his opinion."
But eventually Baksh "felt he was just buying time with me", he said.
Before his extremism came to the fore, he was "a bubbly character who was quite respected, but that was before I knew what he was up to."
Baksh said his final confrontation with Wahab came in 2007.
"After that he stormed out and I never saw him again," he said. "Something must have happened to him between then and Saturday."
Swedish investigators said Abdelwahab was carrying a cocktail of explosives and probably meant to cause carnage among Christmas shoppers in Stockholm on Saturday but succeeded only in blowing up his car and then himself.
Baksh said he never believed the man he had known would eventually launch an attack.
"When his name came out (after the bombings) I didn't clock it at first but then a couple of people called me and I realised it was him," he said.
"I am shocked because I never imagined he would go this far."
Baksh said he could not recall discussing with Abdelwahab any trips abroad when he might have been radicalised. "It was just debates I had with him," he said.
British police were Monday searching a house believed to belong to Abdelwahab that he shared with his wife and three children in Luton.
A town north of London with a large Muslim population, Luton has been a flashpoint for clashes between Islamic extremists and far-right militants in recent years.
In 2009, Muslim extremists demonstrated at a homecoming march for British soldiers of the Anglian Regiment returning from Afghanistan, holding placards calling the troops "cowards, killers, extremists".
Four years earlier, the four suicide bombers who killed 52 people on London's transport system met up at the town to make their way into the capital.
© 2010 AFP