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28 March 1979 |
Gloucester, United Kingdom
|Known for||shoe bomb|
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Saajid Badat is the child of Muhammad Badat and his wife Zubeidah, both of whom immigrated to the UK from their birthplace in Malawi in the 1970s. They moved to Gloucester in south west England, where Muhammad found work in the Walls ice cream factory. Their first child Saajid was born at Gloucester maternity hospital on March 28, 1979. He attended St James Church of England primary school, and later won admission to The Crypt, a highly regarded grammar school in Gloucester. Teachers there describe him as mature and committed, and in 1997 he graduated with four A-levels.
A committed Muslim, Saajid became a Hafiz (one who knows the Qur'an by heart) at age twelve. After leaving school, he briefly pursued studies to be an optometrist before deciding to study to become an Islamic scholar and teacher.
Badat's studies began at an Islamic college in Lancashire; from 1999 he attended a madrassa in Pakistan. Investigators believe he became radicalised there under the influence of Al-Qaeda sympathisers. It is believed he trained in Pakistan and possibly in neighbouring Afghanistan. There he reportedly met Richard Reid, another British citizen, and the Al-Qaeda military commander Mohammed Atef. Badat returned to the UK in early 2001, but remained in email contact via "Bobu", his handler (alleged to be Tunisian footballer Nizar Trabelsi).
After his return, Badat, like Reid, obtained duplicate passports from British consulates (court documents claim Badat was in the British embassy in Brussels doing so on September 12, 2001, having watched the attacks of the previous day on television). Both Reid and Badat returned to Pakistan in November 2001, and reportedly travelled overland to Afghanistan. They both were given "shoe bombs", casual footwear adapted to be covertly smuggled onto aircraft before being used to destroy them. Later forensic analysis of the bombs showed that they both contained the same plastic explosive and that the respective lengths of detonator cord had come from the same batch (the cut mark on Badat's cord matches exactly that on Reid's). The pair returned separately to the UK in early December 2001.
On their return, both maintained contact with their handler(s) in Pakistan, using a system of telephone cards and email accounts. Soon after this, Badat emailed his handler, indicating he was unsure if he would proceed with the scheme. But, he booked a flight from Manchester to Amsterdam, in preparation for taking a US-bound flight from there. Reid did likewise, booking a flight to Paris and thence to Miami. On December 22, 2001 Reid boarded his flight. Badat did not, having emailed his handler, "You will have to tell Van Damme that he could be on his own".
Following the failure of Reid's mission and his arrest and conviction, Badat remained silent and returned to his Islamic studies in Blackburn. He appears to have cut ties with his handler in Pakistan, but kept the shoe bomb components at his parents' home on St. James Street in Gloucester (the detonator under his bed, the explosive in a hallway cupboard). Acting on secret intelligence, police searched the home in November 2003. They found the concealed bomb parts (they had evacuated more than 100 families from houses in the surrounding area) and arrested Saajid Badat. After the family were allowed to return, his father Muhammad Badat reportedly spent several days visiting each home in the neighbourhood to apologise for his son.
Sentencing and imprisonment
On February 28, 2005 at the Old Bailey in London, Badat pleaded guilty to involvement in a conspiracy to destroy a US-bound aircraft. On April 22 Badat was sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment. Delivering the sentence the judge, Justice Fulford, said Badat's withdrawal from the plot justified a more lenient sentence, saying, "Turning away from crime in circumstances such as these constitutes a powerful mitigating factor". Had Badat not withdrawn, the judge said, he would have received a life sentence.
During his incarceration, Badat assisted British and US authorities with information. It was to be used in the US prosecution of Adis Medunjanin, a suspect in a 2009 plot to attack the New York City Subway. Because of this cooperation, Badat's sentence was cut from 13 years to 11. Shortly before he was due to testify for the United States government in U.S. v. Adis Medunjanin, the British government revealed that Badat had been released from prison in March 2010. He was being provided accommodation and training for his reintegration into society.
- "Shoebomb plotter given 13 years". BBC News. 22 April 2005. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
- "Terror suspect admits plane plot". BBC News. 28 February 2005. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- "Would-be plane bomber has sentence cut". BBC News. 16 April 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
- "Secret Life of Shoebomber". The Daily Telegraph. 23 April 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012.