Dhiren Barot is one of Britain’s most senior and prolific al-Qa’ida terrorists. Yet his upbringing gives few clues to what transformed the boy into an extremist.
Born in India in December 1971, he came to Britain with his parents, Manu Barot, a retired banker, and his wife Bharati, in 1972. He was brought up as a Hindu in a quiet suburban cul-de sac in north-west London.
He left the highly rated Kingsbury High School in 1988 after obtaining some GCSEs, and then obtained a City and Guilds qualification in tourism. He worked as an airline ticket clerk in Piccadilly, central London, between 1991 and 1995.
During this period he was reading Islamic literature and attending lectures. As time went on the meetings he attended became “more radical,” Woolwich Crown Court heard yesterday. Barot converted to Islam at the age of about 20.
In September 1995 he told his employers that he was going on a “long overseas trip”. His travels took him to the disputed Kashmir region in Pakistan and then on to a mountainous area called Kotti where he was taught how to use weapons and explosives.
Barot wrote about his experiences when he returned to Britain. Under the name Esa al-Hindi, he published a book entitled The Army of Madinah in 1999.
Barot spent a further six months in Pakistan before travelling to the Philippines via Malaysia in September 1999. A witness testified that while at Camp Hudaybiyah, run by the Jemaah Islamiyah group, Barot was instructed in small arms training, mortars, basic explosives handling, navigation and jungle patrolling.
The court was told that the New York terror plans were prepared after reconnaissance was carried out by Barot during visits to the US in August 2000 and March 2001.
Back in Britain he had a few short-term jobs but no obvious source of income, leading to suggestions that he was funded by al-Qa’ida.
In early 2004 he presented the plans to senior al-Qa’ida members in Lahore, Pakistan. He travelled there on a false passport and returned to the UK on 21 April 2004.
On 28 July 2004, MI5 lost track of Barot. The authorities became alarmed after documents revealing details of some of the plots were found during a raid by the Pakistani authorities in Gujarat, Pakistan, in July 2004. Barot, now 34, was finally arrested on 3 August 2004 at a barbers in Willesden, north-west London, where he was seized without a struggle.