Profile of a terror suspect - changed his name and religion

He plotted to bring down as many 10 trans-Atlantic jetliners.

heathrow jam 88 ap (photo credit: )
heathrow jam 88 ap
(photo credit: )
Don Stewart-Whyte drove a compact car but suggested he'd rather have a Porsche. He married young to a bride that friends and neighbors seldom saw, save for the few times she came out of the modest brick house the couple shared with his mother. The young man who mowed lawns as a teenager in this hilly, suburban town of red-brick homes northwest of London was hardly the type who would come to mind in a plot to bring down as many 10 trans-Atlantic jetliners with liquid explosives. But as Abdul Waheed, the name he adopted after his conversion to Islam six months ago, he has drawn international interest following reports he was among 23 people still detained in the plot to detonate bombs aboard the flights bound from Britain to the United States. The former hairdresser was apparently one of three converts to Islam among those arrested in the raids, all of whom appeared to have ordinary lives and come from middle-class or working class families. Authorities named 19 of the suspects and froze their assets as they tracked the plotters. Though Stewart-Whyte was not among the named suspects, police guarded his home, national newspapers published his photo and his employer said he would be suspended from work pending the outcome of the investigation. Waheed, who neighbors said was aged between 19 and 21, recently spent eight months working at a night club and two weeks selling electronics, never getting into any known trouble. His late father was a local Conservative party officer, and his half-sister was reportedly a model who was once married to tennis star Yannick Noah. She told British papers that she has never met her half brother. Waheed's quiet street in a neighborhood where the residents are native Britons and Pakistani immigrants is lined with modest homes with small front yards, flower beds and white garages. He was typically seen cruising around his neighborhood in High Wycombe, 50 kilometers from London, on a red and white Peugeot mo-ped. A yellow sticker in the rear window of his small red Nissan Micra read: "My other car is a Porsche." Shauib Bahatti, a neighbor, recalled that Waheed wasn't averse to the occasional sip of something alcoholic, but was a "good boy" who seldom missed prayer time at the town's main mosque. After he embraced Islam, he changed his name and grew a beard but didn't appear radicalized, neighbors said. "He wasn't a tough guy. He was soft as a bloody peach," said a 17-year-old friend who wouldn't give his name out of fear of repercussions from the police, who he said target Muslims. "He was very warm and open." The teen, along with a group of others standing in front of the house, said Waheed was a gentle person who never wished harm to anyone. Waheed quit his job at the Blue Room night club after becoming more religious. Two weeks ago, he took a part-time job selling TVs, stereos and personal electronics at Curry's, a popular electronics retail chain. Waheed is reported to be friends with another High Wycombe suspect, Umar Islam, 28, who has a West Indian background and changed his name from Brian Young when he converted two or three years ago. Another suspect, Oliver Savant, 26, grew up in east London with his English mother and Iranian father. He loved soccer as a youth, but had become increasingly isolated from his neighbors after he converted to Islam a few years ago and changed his name to Ibrahim. Both Savant and Islam were among the 19 suspects named by British authorities.