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NYT: Terrorist Neurosurgeon Faced Racism

From his fans at the New York Times:

Photo

Mohammed Asha as a young terrorist

A Surgeon’s Trajectory Takes an Unlikely Swerve

By SERGE F. KOVALESKI and HASSAN M. FATTAH

NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME, England, July 2 — Mohammed Asha, the Jordanian-trained doctor who has been arrested, though not charged, in the terrorism plots in the Britain last week, was proud of his career accomplishments but fretful about his welcome in English society, friends and acquaintances in Jordan and Britain said Monday.

In this town in the English Midlands where Dr. Asha settled, Simon Plant, 34, recalled in an interview that when Dr. Asha and his wife were interested in renting a modest red brick three-bedroom house last year on a cul-de-sac named Sunningdale Grove, Dr. Asha had a pressing question on his mind. “He seemed very concerned about racism in the area,” Mr. Plant said.

Mr. Plant said that it soon became apparent to him that Dr. Asha’s wife, who was arrested with him on the nearby M6 highway late on Saturday, had experienced racism in the community where the family had lived in Shrewsbury in Shropshire. “It was weighing on him,” he said…

Dr. Asha, 26, whose specialty is neurosurgery, recently started work at the North Staffordshire Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent. According to the General Medical Council in Britain, Mohammed Jamil Abdelqader Asha completed his medical studies in Jordan in 2004. His limited registration allowed him to work for the National Health Service under supervision. Until last July, he worked as a doctor at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital, both in Telford.

Neighbors said the family was insular, but in the last few weeks two men who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent had started staying with the Ashas at the house.

Chris Shaw, a postal worker who delivered mail to the Asha family, said he was struck that over the last three months or so, Dr. Asha started receiving more packages and certified mail than usual.

“He would just sign for it and go back inside the house without saying much,” Mr. Shaw recalled. He added that Dr. Asha seemed bright, educated, courteous and European in his style of dress…

Mr. Plant said Dr. Asha often dressed in traditional Muslim attire, as did his wife, who would retreat upstairs whenever Mr. Plant came to tend to a maintenance problem.

Others recalled that Dr. Asha alternated between wearing Muslim garb and Western clothing, like white dress shirts and suit pants.

Dr. Asha and his wife, who wore a hijab to cover her head, stood out in a closely knit community that does not have much of a Muslim population

Dr. Asha, a Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship, was born in Saudi Arabia. In 1991, his family moved to Amman, Jordan, where his father said he thought his children had a chance at a better education. In Amman, they lived in a squalid neighborhood where Islamists own the streets…

He married Marwa Younis after medical school at 23, and they moved to England where he studied on a British government fellowship

In an interview on Monday at his home in Amman, Jamil Asha, 55, Dr. Asha’s father, dismissed as preposterous the idea that his son could be a terrorist. He insisted that his son had been accused of exactly the opposite of what he had aspired to: saving lives and helping people. “He couldn’t be further from any of this,” Mr. Asha said…

Mohammed Asha, they said, was religious but not extremist…

Of course he was a nice, hardworking boy who doesn’t have an extremist bone in his body.

All the best terrorists are.

Still, a neuro-surgeon? At 26?

I find that about as believable as the claims of racism.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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