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Thursday 5 July 2007 Hitwise
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'Our son is not a fanatic. This is a mistake'

By Tim Butcher in Amman and Richard Alleyne
Last Updated: 2:53am BST 04/07/2007

  • Seven doctors held over al-Qa'eda bomb plot
  • Mohammed Asha, one of the doctors arrested in connection with the attempted car bomb attacks, was a star student who chose to live and work in Britain because it treated people with "respect and dignity", his family said yesterday.

    Jamil Asha, father of London terror suspect Mohammed Asha: 'Our son is not a fanatic. This is a mistake'
    Proud father Jamil Asha holds a picture of his son Mohammed Asha

    Dr Asha, 26, originally from Jordan, excelled at the Jubilee School, an elite institution in the country's capital, Amman, for children who show academic promise.

    After gaining straight As in 1998, he won a scholarship to Jordan University's medical school, graduating in the summer of 2004. He was again top of his class.

    However, instead of taking up a post in his native country, he moved to Britain to complete his training.

    He arrived first in Birmingham University with his wife Marwa, 27, before switching to Shrewsbury Royal Hospital and the Princess Royal in Telford where, as a junior doctor, he trained under a number of consultants.

    After one year of training he took up his current post as a senior house officer at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, specialising in neurology. By now Dr Asha and his wife had a son, Anas, and the couple moved to a three-bedroom home in Newcastle-under-Lyme, on the edge of Stoke-on-Trent.

    The picture painted of Dr Asha by his father and former college contemporaries yesterday was of a model student who always excelled and who prayed daily but was nevertheless a religious moderate.

    Born on 17 September, 1980, he has five brothers and two sisters.


    Speaking for the first time yesterday, Jamil Abdelqader Asha, 55, described his devastation at his son's arrest. "This is just so strange, so unbelievable," he said, as he sat shoeless in the modest four-storey family home in the Jbel Azhour (Mount of Flowers) suburb of eastern Amman.

    "My son cared about his studies and his family but not politics. He was religious, yes, but not a fanatic. We only spoke last Thursday about his planned trip home to see us all on the 12th of July and all he wanted to know was what size clothes to buy for his mother as a present.

    "It must all be a mistake and I trust in the fairness of the British judiciary and security services so this will be sorted out soon.

    "He chose Britain because he thought it was a place where people were respected and treated with dignity.

    "He trained as a general surgeon but he wanted to specialise and only 10 days ago he got the news that he had a job to specialise as a neurosurgeon, in Birmingham.

    "He was really excited about the new job. He said it showed how people in Britain are chosen fairly for their talents."

    Mr Asha, who comes from the Jordanian population of Palestinians made refugees by the creation of Israel, worked for 20 years as an Arabic language teacher in Saudi Arabia. The Asha family originally come from Hebron, a town in the West Bank, part of the territory occupied by Israel.

    Azmi Mahafzah, an associate professor of virology who taught Dr Asha at the University of Jordan in Amman, said: ''He was a genius.''

    According to his neighbours in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Dr Asha was always friendly and immaculately dressed.

    Dan Robinson, 61, said: "He seemed a charming fellow and very articulate.''

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