Reactions to alleged involvement of Jordanian doctor in UK plot

Mohammad Asha before The Jordanian blogosphere is filled with reactions to the alleged involvement of Jordanian doctor Mohammad Asha in the UK terror plot. Blogger and journalist Batir Wardam is hoping that Asha is innocent, saying:

I am deeply in hope that Dr. Mohammad Asha (27) who is a Jordanian will turn out to be innocent from the suspicions of an alleged role in the planning of terror attacks in London and [Glasgow]. Not only because he is Jordanian but I feel very alarmed that the profile of Dr Asha is very far away from the typical terrorist, in fact he can be a replica of thousands of Arabs and Muslims trying to seek a career of excellence in Europe.

The story of Asha is all over the news here in the US. The Today program is showing a picture of him with Queen Noor. Nothing has been confirmed so far and he may turn out to be innocent as his family claims. But I think harm has already been done. Jordan’s name is now linked to this terror plot. What a shame! I do disagree with Batir on the issue of Asha’s profile. I’m of the opinion that the current "profile of a terrorist" is not that of the disenchanted and the unemployed. On the contrary, many of those involved in terrorism are highly educated. Here is an excerpt from today’s Washington Post:

Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy leader of the network, is an Egyptian-trained physician. Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged chief planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacking plot, earned a degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina A&T University. The lead hijacker, Mohamed Atta, studied architecture. Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was educated as a civil engineer.

Meanwhile, blogger Firas is not surprised by the possible radicalization of Asha. Firas showed a more recent picture than above of Asha with him fully-bearded, something that could be interpreted by some as a shift towards extremism. He says:

Mohammad Asha afterIf he is truly involved, there might be some explanation, and I’ve personally witnessed this: What happens is that Arab students go to study abroad in countries where political and religious freedoms are granted for all, say countries like: US,UK,Canada and Australia. Now these students get to know other Muslim students usually Pakistanis who got some extremists among them, and that’s when they are fed with all this crap. And this is out of personal experience (a close friend would stop talking to you, because you are a Christian,the guy was transformed in 5 months). As in Pakistan extremist groups and parties are deeply rooted in that country, and for an Arab student who finds him/herself in an alien culture and lately a hostile culture to Islam (think of post 9/11,the Danish cartoons,the Pope’s lecture,etc) these guys would have some affect.

Regardless of whether Asha is innocent or not, it is a shame to see Jordan’s name dragged into this. As if the effect of Zaraqwi on Jordan’s reputation was not enough!

UPDATE: The International Herald Tribune is running a story that highlights comments from Asha’s colleagues who are saying that he was "absorbed in his studies and had no ties to terrorism." The story quotes a Jordanian government source saying that British authorities described Asha as a "possible subject" not charged with any crime. The same source called connections to the physician "very sketchy."

Azmi Mahafzah, Mohammed Asha’s instructor at the University of Jordan medical school, said he knew Mohammed Asha during his studies and training from 1998 to 2004 and did not have the impression that he was religious. "He interacted with others, both boys and girls. He has no prejudices. He is not a fanatic type of person," he said. "I wouldn’t believe that he would risk a very, very bright future in medicine for going into such things. He’s very smart," Mahafzah said. He said Mohammed Asha graduated with top honors from his medical class.

Another colleague of Asha’s in Amman, Aseel al-Omari, described herself as a "close friend" of the Jordanian doctor. She said she knew him for the past decade since they attended a school for gifted students. The school, founded 14 years ago by Jordan’s Queen Noor to promote religious tolerance, is mixed — a rarity in this conservative Muslim society, which often separates the sexes.

6 Comments

  1. Isam July 4, 2007 at 3:30 am

    The Sun already has a nickname for him … Dr. Evil !!

    if his profile made his collegues suspecious … why shouldnt the brits feel that way too ??

    For Islam’s , Arabs’ and Jordan’s sake … Please be innocent Mohammad !

    Reply
  2. Faris July 4, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    One thing for sure those people at Scotland Yard do not go about accusing people of being terrorists just because they are muslims other wise they have a big problem on their hands since millions of Muslims like myself live all over Britain and Europe.They must have concrete evidence or some legal suspecion of a person.i hope this doctor comes innocent but we have to respect the well of the British authorities to ensure the saftey and security of all the citizens of Great Britain.

    Reply
  3. Ahmad July 4, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    I was walking with non-Muslim friend in London. I told him i am going to Jordan when i finish my course and not to stay here. He said to me do not mention Jordan word people would not like to hear in pub in this current environmnet .I was shocked and embarrassed .

    Before That Brtish respect jordanian people because our royl family.They respect king Hussine- may allah bless his souland – and king abudallah

    Last Monday , My boss was unhappy even i felt he can not trust me although he has knows me fand y fmaily for long time .Thanks God no one get hurt and police captured them .

    Reply
  4. dm July 9, 2007 at 9:28 am

    One thing that we have to remember is that people will act away from the norm when they are scared. Ever since terrorism has become very real to the western world (mostly thanks to 9/11), people are scared. I admit thst when I fly now I am more cautious, and I hate that I do this, but I do look twice when I see a group of Arab men boarding the plane. It’s awful because these men are innocent, but it’s fear that’s very real. You just can’t help it. I feel bad that innocent people are being blamed, and it is possible that this may be the case. If he is innocent, then I hope that comes out in the end. If he’s guilty then I hope justice is brought to him.

    Reply
  5. Don Cox July 20, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    “the profile of Dr Asha is very far away from the typical terrorist, ”

    Not at all. Everything I see about this guy suggests a typical cult victim: quiet, serious, a bit idealistic, not very streetwise or cynical.

    This is just the kind of person who is most easily trapped.

    Reply
  6. Justin October 30, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Some copies of reports regarding this case are here.

    Reply

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