The last moments in the life of a British Muslim suicide bomber were captured in a video released on today. Abdul Waheed Majeed, from Crawley, a town in Sussex – a region in southeastern England – is seen posing with his associates minutes before he allegedly drove an explosives-filled truck through the walls of a jail in Aleppo, Syria. The February 6 blast broke the barrier around the prison and allowed hundreds of prisoners - many them opponents of Syria’s Assad regime – to flee.
The 41-year-old Majeed is feared to have blown himself to atoms and is believed to the first British Muslim to effect a suicide bombing in Syria. In the video, when approached by the cameraman who asked a question in Arabic, Majeed answered "Sorry. English. I'm sorry I can't speak it. Everyone asks me man." When another man is heard to say "British," Majeed is heard to say "My tongue bro... it's got like a knot in it." He then added, "I don't want to try. It should come from the heart and I can't do it."
It was just minutes later that a truck can then seen headed towards the prison before a spectacular explosion. While the perpetrator of the attack is believed to be Majeed, the first name to be reported was a possible alias: Abu Suleiman al-Britani.
Of Pakistani origin, Majeed was the father of three children and lived in a three-bedroom flat in Crawley, West Sussex. Police have been seen combing the home for evidence. Five police searches of the home were concluded on February 13. Majeed once worked as a truck driver who was employed by the public roads department. However, for the last six months he had driven a truck in an aid convoy in Syria.
Majeed had visited the refugee camp on the border shared by Syria and Turkey and, in happier days, sported Mickey Mouse ears while visiting local children. In one photograph taken at the camp, Majeed is seen making the peace sign.
While family members claim that he had never shown signs of Muslim extremism, radical Muslim religious leader Omar Bakri Mohammed claimed him as a "a very dear brother." The religious leader stated that Majeed had been an active student and valued member of the banned Islamist Al-Muhajiroun organization between 1996 and 2004. According to Bakri, Majeed wanted to advance the "Muslim cause." Based in Lebanon, Bakri said of Majeed, "He was a good brother. He was someone who was always at hand to help people. He wanted to study Islam and wanted to know what it was to be a good Muslim. He was also very interested in the issue of how we could establish an Islamic state."
Majeed allegedly assisted Bakri in organizing sermons in Crawley, and also recorded and distributed them. Bakri was born to a wealthy family in Aleppo, Syria, and has long been controversial for his own alleged ties to terrorism. He was once quoted as saying, “We don't make a distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents. Only between Muslims and unbelievers. And the life of an unbeliever has no value. It has no sanctity.”
However, a Muslim leader in Crawley insisted that Majeed had no known links to extreme Islam. Arif Syed said "We have no knowledge of that. What Bakri is saying from Libya is all heresy."
According to the online MuslimTimes, a group seeking to promote peace and understanding between Christians and Muslims claimed that Majeed had attempted in the past to disrupt their meetings. Nazir Basharat, of the UK Ahmadiyya Muslim Association tweeted on February 14, “Abdul Waheed Majid, the bomber in Syria, was known to Ahmadiyya Crawley as part of a gang who used to come disrupt their peace initiatives.”
Ahmadi Muslims are considered heretics or infidels by some Muslim religious authorities and are frequently persecuted alongside Christians and Muslims in Pakistan.
In addition, Ahsan Ahmedi, regional president of the association, confirmed that Majeed had led confrontations in the past. “Whenever we had discussions and promotional events in the town a group of younger Muslim boys and Mr Majid would try to disrupt what we were doing. We would debate our different ideologies and they would try and discourage other people from listening to our message.”