My Neighbour, The Terrorist

Pardon my jumbled up thoughts, but I have been thinking a lot about last Wednesday in London.

There are so many stories going around about the latest ‘terrorist’ attack in London, on the Houses Or Parliament, in Westminster.

Within hours, homes in Birmingham and London were raided and 8 arrests were made. A name was given for this ‘terrorist’ who had been shot and killed by police. ISIS claimed responsibility.

No one can say the British Government didn’t step up and act ASAP.

However…

All those arrested were released.

The named ‘dead terrorist’ was actually alive and well behind bars. It wasn’t long before the real name was revealed. A man born pretty local to where I now live as it happens.

 

Two images of Khalid Masood

Attacker Khalid Masood

 

The next step was to find out who had radicalised him while he had been in prison because that was what had to have happened.

Today, I read that the authorities can find no links to any terrorist groups. No evidence to suggest that this guy was planning another attack. And they were forced to admit that though it would be good to know what prompted it, they have to face the reality that they may never know why the Wednesday attack happened.

It is likely that a slightly unbalanced person was swayed by the preachings of some radical groups, and decided to take matters into his own hands. There may have been other reasons. He may have had personal issues… and the pressure sent him a bit loopy, causing the attack… who knows.

It is such an awful situation for the families of the victims. No rhyme nor reason to why they are now sat in grief.

But what a great opportunity for those that like to stir. It has to be ISIS. It must be Islamic terrorists. Get these Muslims out of our country!

Seriously?

Those that knew the attacker, Khalid Masood (born Adrian Russell Elms) said he was somewhat violent and had served time in prison for knife crimes, but could be a polite person. No real evidence of when he converted to Islam.

It all got me thinking.

I know of a convicted terrorist.

And even to this day, I find it hard to believe that this guy had a hand in planning something that could have been so horrific.

Going back to 1998, I remember a phone call from my mother, asking if I had seen the newspaper that day. I duly went out, bought it and called mum back. There was an article about 5 men who had been arrested in Yemen on suspicion of planning a bomb attack on the British Consulate, and a church.

“Ritu, have you looked at the pictures? That’s not Samad, is it?” my mum inquired.

I glanced at the photos, and there, in a really grainy photo was a familiar face. I confirmed what she had said.

Image result for samad ahmed yemen

This was a boy who was not only a neighbour of ours, he and his family were patients of my Pops while he was a practising dentist. But not only that, he had been at my university, a couple of years my junior.

I hadn’t really known him while living in Birmingham, before university, but it was just chance that as a fellow Brummie, and more senior student, I got chatting to him during one of the fresher week events in his first year.

He was a charming lad. So bubbly and full of fun. He was also not a strict follower of Islam at the time, going out with his mates and drinking etc. He was your average university student, enjoying all the fun of being away from home!

We found out that he lived down my road back home, and that he know my parents, and that was enough to forge a big sister/little brother bond. In the holidays, he had a security guard job in a store in Birmingham City Centre and if I ever went there and he was working he would always have a chat.

But one day, during term time, something awful happened.

There had always been clashes between the religious groups withing the universities. Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, they can clash, and our university was no different. I had witnessed some horrific fights after a night out that stemmed from the religious hatred.

Samad and his friends went out somewhere. His best friend was with them. Sometime in the evening, an altercation happened. I wasn’t there, I don’t know many details, but the culmination of the event was that his best friend was killed in the fight.

Understandably, the fun loving guy we all knew changed. Samad rarely had a smile on his face. He was depressed. So down.

And that’s when I think something happened. He found God.

Now I am not condemning finding your God when in times of distress. Many people do, and that belief saves them.

But this was different. He found God through some radical group. The Samad I knew started to wear the traditional dress and became more serious. He still was polite and spoke to me, but he was not out in the evenings like before, and there wasn’t the jovial nature there anymore.

I graduated soon after,  so didn’t see him anymore, and didn’t think much about him.

But a year later, this phonecall from mum… and I looked back at what I remembered of him.

This was so unlike the Samad I knew. Then it hit me. When you are down, and vulnerable, it is so easy to become consumed by whatever appears to be soothing you at the time. There must have been some sort of grooming in place, that, I don’t know, brainwashed him. I couldn’t believe that the lad I knew could even be capable of planning something so heinous as a terrorist attack.

His family, along with the other captives families, pleaded for their release. Samad’s brother spoke at length about how his brother was no terrorist. But they were convicted in the end. There was foul play at work. They had all been involved in the planning of something that could have been awful.

But my mind still boggles.

Terrorists and radical followers of any religion are not born. They are made.

No religion dictates the violent destruction of another creed. It just takes that minority to find a line within any holy text, and manipulate it, then locate a group of misguided, vulnerable folk who need guidance, preaching to them about what their God tells them to do and Boom! You breed a band of extremists who blindly follow this incorrect belief.

This, in turn, reflects badly on a whole majority of the religion, who wholeheartedly condemn the actions of these radical groups. and racism and hatred is born.

I never knew what happened to Samad after. As far as I know, he was released a few years later, but we never saw him again. But I still stand firm in the belief that someone took advantage of his vulnerability at his time of need, and instead of supporting him and guiding him correctly, they gave him the support he felt he needed and led him down a much more sinister path…

Similarly, was Khalid Masood simply led astray by watching propaganda from some of these groups, then acting on what he felt he was being instructed to do? Or was he simply an unhinged man who saw no rhyme nor reason the day he ploughed his car into a group of people on the bridge, then went on to stab a police officer? An attack that led to the death of 5 in total,  and many in critical condition in hospital.

What are your thoughts on terrorists, and why they commit the atrocities they do?

69 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lucinda E Clarke
    Apr 03, 2017 @ 11:35:47

    The one thing that is missing in all this is ‘live and let live,’ I may have a differnet belief to you, and that’s OK, what is right for me is not necessarily right for you. Why oh why do we have to convince everyone else to believe in the same way we believe?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. amommasview
    Apr 03, 2017 @ 01:07:50

    I guess it’s the evil genius some people have to notice when someone is vulnerable and then they find the right words to get to them. It’s the steady drop that I have described here (https://amommasview.wordpress.com/2017/02/03/the-drop/) that then gets them to where they want to be: Inside the person’s brain and heart. They are there for them when they need someone, feeding them with all the wrong ideas. Making them see a reality that is actually not a reality. Or maybe it is but rather than building them up to face it with a different attitude they grow hate. You said it very well, Ritu. I do believe that they are very smart. I often think how clever some religious groups pick their time to knock on people’s doors. It’s usually a time when only the lonely are home. People who have lost their job, elderly living by themselves, even stay-at-home-mums who might be exhausted. We just recently had the entire neighborhood flooded by Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on doors. It was as if they just came off a bus. All in groups of 3, one man, one woman and a child… I found it crazy to watch. The system seems to be the same everywhere: Find the weak and give them what they crave. Then you are in and you can groom and groom and groom…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. The Indecisive Eejit
    Apr 02, 2017 @ 22:36:35

    Well written post Ritu. It makes you think doesn’t it. we see enough of it here, but for different reasons.
    I don’t know how people can live with themselves, I know any God I believe in would not condone murder in his or her name.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. lilhiddentreasures
    Apr 02, 2017 @ 15:23:36

    Such sobering and thought provoking post, Ritu. It must have broke your heart to see and hear this happening to your friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. jeremy@thirstydaddy
    Apr 02, 2017 @ 15:04:07

    I can’t imagine the shock of seeing that face on TV and realizing that you knew him

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  6. Traci York
    Apr 02, 2017 @ 14:38:35

    Sometimes, it’s very easy to fall into the “us” versus “them” and to lose sight of the person/people.Excellent, if sobering, reminder, Ritu.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  7. Gary
    Apr 02, 2017 @ 14:17:02

    Excellent post Ritu; things are never quite as simple as our so called media seems to portray; although part of me thinks they do it to stir up a story rather than reporting facts properly. I have never believed the majority of Muslims or any faith for that matter, truly want division and would prefer just to get on and not have religion held as a barrier walking ahead of them. Its why I love blogging; nobody I’ve met here judges. The issue of radicalisation, is complex and not simply A leading to B. People have a great many influences that can change lives. I explore that with my characters on occasion, as do many great writers. A shame political influencers and media cant do the same. Really good post x

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Apr 02, 2017 @ 17:38:05

      Thank you Gary. It is indeed a complex matter… you’re right… we will have to discuss over coffee!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      • Gary
        Apr 02, 2017 @ 20:13:41

        You’re very welcome….my general modus operandii is an ass is an ass…don’t care what culture, religion or otherwise they come from. Granted that’s a generalisation and complicated by circumstances people go through, but bigots and racial stuff really gets my goat up. And if that’s what drives people into depression, or worse, then it’s just plain wrong. Oops, sorry…almost moved into soap boxing… X

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ritu
        Apr 02, 2017 @ 20:17:42

        😂😂😂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. masgautsen
    Apr 02, 2017 @ 11:04:05

    Very good and thought provoking post Ritu! I guess it’s in our nature to Wonder why eben if we know we won’t get an answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  9. April Munday
    Apr 02, 2017 @ 10:35:43

    Thank you for a thought-provoking piece. I hope there are people who are working on why and how people become radicalised.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  10. Everything EmmZeeBee Blog
    Apr 02, 2017 @ 10:07:09

    I work in a low secure hospital for young people. I work in the kitchen, but all staff have to complete anti-terrorism training (I think it is called that). As we work with vulnerable people we have to be aware of radicalisation

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  11. Gay Stepdad
    Apr 02, 2017 @ 09:53:28

    This is quite thought provoking. This could happen to any vulnerable person in their time of need.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  12. thebeasley
    Apr 02, 2017 @ 09:45:58

    Ritu, thank you so much for writing this. It must’ve been so strange to find that out about your friend. So alien. More research needs to be done on radicalisation. The hows and whys. It’s so, so sad (and very scary) that a nice, cheerful guy can be turned into someone filled with so much hatred, capable of the unthinkable. Excellent post about a subject that needs to be written about & thought about.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  13. Monster Mermaid
    Apr 02, 2017 @ 09:42:34

    Great piece Ritu…its a really good insight into how something like this may happen…thanks you for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  14. Southern by Design
    Apr 01, 2017 @ 11:54:21

    Such a good piece Ritu. These terrible things do always get me to thinking too. It is unbelievable what man is capable of.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  15. Rae Longest
    Mar 31, 2017 @ 17:34:20

    Your post provoked many thoughts in my “thinking.” I have often been criticized for feeling compassion for the families of “shooters,” whether confused kids or radicalized young people. However “strange” the kid or young person is, he/she is someone’s kid, and it hurts to lose a child, no matter the circumstances. Knowing your child has killed/tried to harm others, must be the hardest of all.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  16. Persia Karema
    Mar 28, 2017 @ 19:52:29

    Thanks for this post, Ritu. I read it. Understood it. But I do not know what to say. If I could absorb all the hate and terror in this world – a burden to carry alone so everyone else could live in peace, I would gladly do so. What I see pains me. My heart is heavy for mankind.
    Stay well. Stay safe. P. x

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  17. Lisa A.
    Mar 28, 2017 @ 18:05:21

    Wow that’s crazy, Ritu! I was like is this real when I read about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  18. Judy E Martin
    Mar 28, 2017 @ 16:20:22

    It is so difficult to understand why anyone could carry out atrocities in the name of religion, ANY religion! I can’t think of a religion that advocates murder, yet it still happens.
    The people that carry out these killings seem to think that they will receive some reward on a higher level, that may be why they do it. Especially if they are having terrible problems in their lives, and feel that this life holds nothing for them anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  19. Erika Kind
    Mar 28, 2017 @ 07:38:29

    That was an amazing article, Sis. I am glad you told me about it. It is as you said, sis. When you come across the “right” people in a moment of desperation and frustration you are so receptive for revenge or false intentions. Nobody was born evil – your example of Samad shows it clearly – but a traumatic experience can change the whole mindset. When the victim becomes the bully, when the abused becomes the abuser. That’s why it is so important that we treat everybody with respect. We never know where a person just goes through and one thoughtless word can cause a breakdown when the skin is thin. That is what everyone of us can do… compassion and tolerance instead of ignorance, pre-judice, and arrogance!

    Like

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  20. jacquelineobyikocha
    Mar 27, 2017 @ 17:52:24

    I have often pondered this issue myself. What can turn a human from a sensible person to a terrorist? I do agree that some are in search of something elusive. I honestly don’t have any answers.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  21. http://www.salpa58.wordpress.com
    Mar 27, 2017 @ 16:35:08

    Interesting post-Ritu. The following from your post is what disturbed me. “There had always been clashes between the religious groups withing the universities. Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, they can clash, and our university was no different. I had witnessed some horrific fights after a night out that stemmed from the religious hatred”.
    The thing is, to me religion is a personal thing and should not be condemned by another human being. Whatever higher power, God, Allah, Jesus, etc. that a person decided to follow. No religion that I know of condones killing another human being.
    I am sure in this day and age we as a human race should not be fighting because of someone’s choice of the religion they choose to practice. That is not the norm, at least not here in America.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Mar 27, 2017 @ 16:59:52

      I wholeheartedly agree. It these awful clashes stemming from the time of the partition still keep happening. The more parents take a derogatory stance against other religions the more their children are likely to bear to see views…. a vicious circle.
      I’m glad my parents never did that. I see the person first…religion comes much later

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  22. stevetanham
    Mar 27, 2017 @ 08:44:43

    Thank you, Ritu. That was a balanced and humanitarian piece. In my view, there will always be extremists. It is a condition of human nature rather than politics. No amount of parenting is sufficient to guarantee that a vulnerable person, usually of low intellect, will be radicalised at the wrong time. The issue is vulnerability to another person’s hate – and the press have a duty to report the bigger picture, not the badge. The ‘hate’ press won’t, of course, they’ll keep driving their nails into the flesh of the collective and confused mass of humanity that is really all linked in consciousness.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  23. robbiesinspiration
    Mar 27, 2017 @ 05:29:06

    It is a very interesting question, Ritu, what causes someone to turn again the very society they have been raised in, particularly, in a case like yours where there has been no ill treatment or racism [it would seem]. I can understand that children born to dire poverty and ill treated from birth and who live a life bereft of any opportunities or love become hard and oblivious to pain and suffering. I do find it mystifying where the terrorists are born in the country of their terrorist activities and have been embraced by that society. In your particular example it doesn’t sound as if the terrorist activities were being planned against those that were responsible for his friend’s death but rather against innocents.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  24. Phil Taylor
    Mar 27, 2017 @ 02:50:12

    Wow! What an interesting story.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  25. Shivangi
    Mar 27, 2017 @ 01:06:37

    Really moving Post Ritu… I don’t know what makes them so misguided…!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Mar 27, 2017 @ 06:44:15

      Me neither… but my guess is that there is something missing in their lives, or some vulnerability which the evil minority take advantage of…

      Like

      Reply

  26. willowdot21
    Mar 26, 2017 @ 23:21:42

    I don’t know what to say Sis.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  27. ladymeritaten
    Mar 26, 2017 @ 23:21:04

    God what a thing to know. My thoughts on the whole thing are a little too jumbled and confused. Honestly I think every situation is different

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Mar 27, 2017 @ 06:42:21

      Exactly… it is so weird to think someone you thought you knew could end up involved in something like this… but that’s were you have to wonder… why?

      Like

      Reply

      • ladymeritaten
        Mar 28, 2017 @ 02:23:45

        I think people can drive themselves crazy wondering why. Sometimes people change and sometimes they are not who you think they are the entire time. The best lesson is to be kind and hope it’s enough for people to remember their and others’ humanity.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ritu
        Mar 28, 2017 @ 06:53:29

        True… but I guess we will never stop wondering why…

        Like

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