Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, the Pakistani computer engineer now being described as an Al Qaeda facilitator or operative, was a well-educated product of Pakistan's middle class. Much like the Sept. 11 hijackers, many of whom were also children more of opportunity than deprivation, he seems to have abandoned a career for a mission.
He was living in Lahore, where, he told investigators, Al Qaeda helped pay his rent. Even the woman he married last May was provided by his Qaeda handler.
Mr. Khan seems to be a mastermind who was possibly helping to plan attacks abroad. His computer yielded information including graphics of the designs of important buildings and computer calculations of the impact of explosions.
However important his role, his allegiance to Al Qaeda does not appear to be in dispute. He is the latest example of the young, educated professionals who have been lured to the network. His profile reflects familiar elements that concern counterterrorist specialists: his technological expertise; his ability to blend unnoticed for years into Pakistani society, even as he passed on messages and traveled to meet Qaeda operatives; his contacts with similarly ideological family members in Britain.
Mr. Khan's father is a senior purser for the state-owned Pakistan International Airlines. His mother is an assistant professor of botany at St. Joseph College in Karachi. They are Pashtuns. He told interrogators that the family came from India after the Partition in 1947.
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