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Last Updated: Friday, 22 April 2005, 21:13 GMT 22:13 UK
Explosion plot of 'walking angel'
Saajid Badat at school
Saajid Badat was arrested in November 2003
To the people who knew Saajid Badat during his youth, he was angelic, intelligent and mature. Yet by the age of 22, he was planning to kill hundreds of innocent people.

One of four children, Badat grew up in Gloucester reading the Koran at the local mosque while attending the Crypt Grammar School for Boys.

Abdul Jaffer, whose son Mohammed had played with Badat as a boy, recalls how he was mad on football, particularly Liverpool. Badat was an "intelligent boy who always spoke out if something was wrong, a walking angel", he said.

Badat excelled academically, leaving school with 10 GCSEs and four A levels. Head teacher David Lamper described him as a "punctual, cheerful and polite" student who worked with "maturity and commitment".

St James Street, Gloucester
Around 100 houses were evacuated when Badat was arrested

He later won places at Imperial College and City University to study optometry. But instead of going to university, the young Badat decided to travel to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he attended military training camps.

It was here that he was convinced of the necessity of martyrdom. "I have a sincere desire to sell my soul to Allah in return for paradise," he wrote to his family.

In another e-mail, in May 2001, he added: "If the enemy comes, then either we gain victory or we gain martyrdom."

Badat returned from Afghanistan, like his accomplice Richard Reid, in possession of a bomb, to be hidden in his shoes and detonated on a passenger plane. But unlike Reid, Badat pulled out at the last minute.

Psychological shut-down

Instead of finding paradise as a martyr, Badat enrolled at the College of Islamic Knowledge and Guidance in Blackburn, Lancashire. Bizarrely, he kept the bomb and fuses because he did not know how to dispose of them.

"It's almost as if the chapter had never happened," his barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, told the Old Bailey. "He psychologically shut it down in the hope that it would go away."

High explosives taken from Badat
Badat had hidden explosives in a sock for two years
And for almost two years it did go away. Badat went quietly about his studies, eventually moving back to his family home in St James Street, Gloucester.

But in November 2003 anti-terror police came calling. They evacuated more than 100 houses in the surrounding area before raiding his house.

"I was asked to do a shoe bombing like Richard Reid," Badat told police immediately after his arrest. He then told them of two suitcases in his house - one containing a fuse and detonator, the other a ball of explosives wrapped in a sock.

At the time of his arrest, neighbour Scotral Drockert said Badat "always seemed a quiet, ordinary young man. I'm shocked that he's mixed up in all this - it seems a little bit close to home".

Terror suspect admits plane plot
28 Feb 05 |  Gloucestershire
'Shoe bomber' jailed for life
30 Jan 03 |  Americas
Police question terror suspect
28 Nov 03 |  Gloucestershire

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