London 7/7 bombings: Family's lasting shock over attacks

Farida Patel Farida Patel said she had become more reclusive since the attacks

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Thinking back to 12 July, 2005, Farida Patel says it was the day her life "fell apart".

That was the day officers from Scotland Yard entered her family home and told her that her son-in-law, Mohammad Sidique Khan, was one of the suspected London suicide bombers.

In her first media interview since the 7 July bombings, Mrs Patel described her state of disbelief at the time.

"I said 'Why my house, why search my house?' and when they told me it was my daughter's husband, I was shocked," she said.

"At first they thought he was my son, but I said, 'No he was not my son - he was my son-in-law'."

The police raid came just days after the bombing attacks on London's transport network, which killed 52 people.

Mohammad Sidique Khan, 30, was the ringleader of the group behind the bombings, which included Shehzad Tanweer, 22, Hasib Hasan, 18, and Muslim convert Germaine Lindsay, 19.

'Bad memories'

Khan, originally from Leeds, moved first to Batley and then to nearby Dewsbury, in West Yorkshire, after his marriage to Mrs Patel's daughter, Hasina, in 2001. They had a daughter in 2004.

Mrs Patel, who came to the United Kingdom from South Africa in 1967, had worked in a Dewsbury secondary school and was a key member of the local Muslim community.

Mohammad Sidique Khan

7/7 ringleader Mohammad Sidique Khan had worked as a learning mentor

She sat on a number of committees which aimed to foster links between people of different faiths, and had even served on a local police forum.

But she said she was not happy with the way the police carried out their inquiries in the early days of the investigation.

"As his mother-in-law I suffered a lot of harassment. I had to leave the beautiful bungalow I had moved into ready for my retirement, and even until today I have been unable to go back there," she said.

"I have never wanted to go back because it holds such bad memories for me and my family. I have not even been to that area where I had lived since coming to live in the UK."

Mrs Patel's youngest son, Arshad Patel, said that he came to know Khan well after they became brothers-in-law.

"He struck me as a normal everyday guy... so when Mohammad Sidique Khan's name came up (in connection with the bombings) I was speechless," he said.

"A lot of people do tend to put you in a box and say you were a friend, or from the family of 'that terrorist'. The community do treat you differently at first. But now they're all very supportive," he said.

"When something like this happens it's not only affected us but everyone living close by, and it's very unfair to label us like that when we do not support such actions."

Mr Patel said that he was angry with the police investigation, and the fact that the police still have most of the family's property that was seized at the time.

Lasting impact

"It's been six years now and we are just starting to get back some of our property. They (the police) took away our Korans and so many of our Islamic books.

"I am trying to get back my computer games because I never got a chance to play with them, so now I'm hoping my kids can."

Wreckage of no 30 bus Four suicide bombers killed 52 people and injured more than 700 in the attacks in London in 2005

The family believe that the media coverage at the time, coupled with arrests of Arshad Patel and his sister Hasina, who did not want to be interviewed, have left a lasting impact on them.

Both Arshad Patel and his sister were later released without charge.

Mrs Patel said she had become more reclusive as a result. She now wears a full hijab when in public, and prefers not to show her face.

She said she had given up all her community activities, and would not take them up again.

"I used to sit on committees which were set up to enable Muslims and other faiths to work together and understand each other better," she said.

"Of course we condemn what happened with the London bombings and we feel nothing but compassion for all those who were victims... we just try not to remember the past and hope the future is better for us all."

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said it would not discuss individual cases, but added that no complaint had been received from the Patel family.

In a statement, the force said: "Officers from MPS conducted a complex and lengthy investigation into the 7 July bombings, which has helped to inform the police response to the criminal trial, and also the inquest.

"During the course of this investigation, officers searched a number of addresses and seized items of property.

"There is an ongoing process in place to return property to the individuals concerned where possible. This a major undertaking given the scale of the inquiry."

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