A former Biddenham Upper School pupil who plotted to become a terrorist in Syria is due to be sentenced today.
Naseer Mirze Taj, a 26-year-old taxi driver, of Victoria Road, Bedford, spent months quietly preparing to leave his pregnant wife to flee to Syria to become a jihadist.
He tried to obtain fraudulent travel documents and even found himself a jihadi bride who was prepared to marry him once he arrived.
But Naseer was arrested two days before he was set to leave and convicted following a court hearing in February.
News of his conviction shocked family and friends.
“We didn’t suspect a thing,” said one friend. “Naseer was just a normal Bedford boy, educated and raised in the town by a very nice, hard-working family.
“He was very respectful to his parents and his elders, and he was always polite and friendly. Nobody would ever have expected him to be involved in anything so terrible.”
Friends are convinced Naseer was recruited by extremists from elsewhere in the country during a “weak moment”.
One said: “We don’t have people with extreme views in Bedford. It’s just not something that happens here.”
Naseer, who now faces a prison sentence, lived in a flat in Tudor Court, Victoria Road, with his unsuspecting wife Rabia Khalique and their small son.
At the time of her husband’s arrest, Rabia was heavily pregnant with their daughter.
Naseer’s parents, who live in Queens Park, were said to be devastated by their son’s conviction.
A spokesman for the popular Queens Park mosque said Naseer was not a member.
“We were all shocked to hear about him,” he said.