By Sajda Mughal OBE, survivor from the Piccadilly tube bombing and Director of JAN Trust.
A decade has now nearly passed since 7th July 2005 when four bombs were detonated in rush hour on the tubes and a bus in central London killing 52 innocent civilians and injuring more than 700.
The tragedy I went through that day is etched in my mind. It’s the very same day that changed my life.
I was your average 22 year-old at the time, working in the city of London. I was enjoying myself and, like every girl, I dreamt about my future life. That morning of the 7th July I was on my way to work but I remember I was running late. I got on at Turnpike Lane. Normally, I would always make sure to get onto the first carriage – call it an OCD or ritual but I had to do this no matter what. As I was running late and in a rush, I couldn’t get onto the first carriage that morning. Had I got onto that very carriage I wouldn’t be alive today writing this, as the bomber Germaine Lindsay, was on that carriage. Just ten seconds after the tube had left King’s Cross station it happened….the explosion.
The first thing I heard was a huge bang, the loudest sound I’ve ever heard, and then silence. The lights went out and thick black smoke started to fill up the carriage. Gradually people around me started to panic, screaming, hitting and punching the carriage trying to escape. People were crying and pleading for their lives.
My initial thought was that we have derailed and since it was rush hour, I thought another tube would be leaving King’s Cross and would collide with us causing a massive fire ball where we would all burn to death. I honestly believed I was going to die down there. I started to think about all the things I hadn’t done yet, I hadn’t got married nor had children, I hadn’t said my final goodbyes to my loved ones. I honestly thought that this was it….July 7th 2005 is the day that I was going to die. I wasn’t ready to die. After a long agonizing 45 minutes of panic, anxiety and fright I heard a distant voice saying “its police, we are coming to get you.” I still remember the huge relief I felt that moment, it was the biggest sense of relief in the 22 years of my life. When I came out of 7/7 I believed I had been given a second chance.
It started to emerge in the news that the attacks were carried out by four Muslim males. Finding out it was a bomb and then carried out by Muslims is what hurt the most as I felt this was an attack on Islam. A lot of questions emerged in my mind then, like; who manipulated them? why did they do that? where were the families and mothers who would never have wanted to lose their child in such a manner hurting innocent civilians?
After the events on 7th July, it took me a long while but I eventually got myself together and went back to work but these unanswered questions played on my mind daily and I was searching for answers.
That’s when I knew – what best place to start then to work with those who can make that difference – women and mothers – they can protect their children and we can ultimately protect society. I left my job and came on-board to JAN Trust which is a multi-award winning women’s NGO supporting and empowering marginalised women and mothers to lead better lives and to become role models to their children
In 2011 we consulted with the community and realised that there was a need. We surveyed 350 Muslim mothers living in London, we found that 93 per cent of the mothers lacked basic IT skills such as being able to turn on the computer, and 92 per cent did not know what online radicalisation was. They were telling me, “We want to know, but we need assistance.”
We, JAN Trust, then developed the world’s only programme enabling mothers to tackle online radicalisation – our Web Guardians© programme. It takes a mother on a journey, educating her with the practical skills to get online, exposing her to the issue of online radicalisation and equipping her with the ability to channel their child’s grievances in a positive manner.
We have had great success with our programme with mothers thanking us in ‘saving’ their children. Mothers from one area of the UK said:
“Through your programme with us you have now saved our families, please go out there and save more!”
As a survivor, I will never forget what happened on 7/7 where people from all backgrounds were affected – young, old, black, brown, white, faith or no faith. I will always remember that day – the day that shook Britain. Like you, I don’t want another 7/7, that’s why community programmes like Web Guardians© are vital.
Your support to JAN Trust and its programmes like the Web Guardians©, means we can protect our British youth and prevent any potential future tragedies. To find more and to support our work, please visit: http://jantrust.org/projects/web-guardians