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Since I picked this story as my student project, I’ve always felt that it was to make any difference.
What you need is proof incontrovertible, unassailable beyond a doubt proof of who authored the Trojan Horse letter.
And we didn’t have it.
Brian, I had a lot of compelling circumstantial evidence of whom I ever end the letter and a sound theory of why it might have been written, but that wasn’t going to be enough.
The Trojan Horse affair means something to powerful people in my country, to its political and media class to our decision makers and mood, says when they’re looking to justify policies or geopolitical support.
It’s part of the infrastructure that allows them to shorthand that Muslims are dangerous.
When others have pushed back against a Trojan horse narrative, they’ve done it by calling out the Islamophobia and racism that drove the affair, focused on the damages done to Muslims in Birmingham and Britain.
But none of this really worked.
And I think it’s because that approach requires people to care about Islamophobia to care about Muslims.
A weird long way from that.
That’s why I’d focused on the letter.
I believed exposing that author of Operation Trojan Horse would give us an agnostic fact, would sidestep the need for people to care, and would force everyone to acknowledge what really happened here, even if it’s through gritted teeth.
And it’s also why we’re headed to Perth, Australia, our next and final stop in this investigation.
And it wasn’t just Brian and me going, we’re taking with us to Perth.
Stay with me now.
This is a very multicultural moment.
A South African dentist would make in a windswept town.
On the coast of Wales named Ahmed D’costa.
But in plan to travel to Australia with Ahmed, the adventure would end up on together.
It started with a visit to his tiny flat in the town of Cardigan.
Hello hi how’s he meet you?
America, I’m from America.
It’s my first time to Wales.
We’ve driven to Wales to see Achmed because we wanted to ask him about Rezvan.
Adar Achmed moved with his family from South Africa to Birmingham some years back, where he began volunteering as a governor in schools.
We heard that he and Ravana Dar had been close once before she went to Adderly.
Mrs Darr worked at the school where Achmed was chair of Governors Oldknow Primary School.
Achmed stayed friends with Mrs Dar after she moved on from old.
Now would go visit her at Adderly where his wife was also a governor and then the Trojan horse affair.
Happened because of the scandal.
Achmed was banned from education labeled an extremist in the newspapers and ended up shutting down.
His old dental practice in Birmingham and taking a position here in Cardigan.
Used to be the mask before.
There’s the room.
Yes, this you see on the floor you see the lines behind you.
They used to pray in this room.
This used as we stepped inside his place.
Achmed pointed out the faint lines in his carpet which showed people were to stand for prayer.
Back when his apartment used to be a mosque.
Now the mosque is downstairs in a little storefront space.
The Cardigan Islamic Cultural Center, Aqua, could live anywhere in town.
He makes a fine living as a dentist, but he told us he likes the convenience and familiarity of this place.
Easy to pray.
Easy to get home.
I’ll take out at Abdul Curry shop next door.
Hums and I were hoping because Achmed new Mrs Dar.
He might have some useful information for us about the Adderley dispute or even the Trojan Horse letter, but made it clear pretty quickly he wasn’t interested in discussing his van Adar, so I can’t speak bad of it.
Is what happened with the teaching assistants.
I don’t know.
I was in there.
What happened with the Trojan horse later?
Critics say that she adopted I don’t know, but what I do know is my relationship with her was extremely good.
She was an outstanding teacher.
I only loved.
I only have good luck.
Man told us he didn’t have much interest in the Trojan Horse letter or its origins at all.
Still, we ended up staying at Akmens a whole day because being with him it was like recognizing a far flung relation.
Someone seemingly as preoccupied as we were with straightening out what had happened during this whole affair.
There was plenty.
Achmed did want to talk about.
Adderly aside, what he was prepared to discuss.
And when I say prepared in the middle of the room, he had a tripod set up with a projector on it but didn’t.
Just is this thing on.
It’s not done.
Was the legal case he was building against the government for what they’ve done at old No primary school during the Trojan Horse affair.
It was pretty similar to what happened at Parkview, a school that was rated outstanding until the Trojan horse that are broke.
This is how we spend the next few hours taking in an exhaustive presentation of volumes of files Achmed saved from old know which he projected from his laptop on the wall above his bed.
This is like a spreadsheet full of text messages.
This is word for word, literally David.
A text also emails meeting minutes.
The school paper work.
Did you create this timeline yourself?
I did but Achmed hoping he can convince a solicitor to build a case out of this material to hold the officials involved.
Accountable that was augments main reason for talking to us.
He was very clear he doesn’t have a high opinion of journalism, but he thought possibly our story could catch the interest of a lawyer willing to help him.
All this effort Achmed was putting in.
It wasn’t even to exonerate himself.
He was trying to help another person.
The Department for Education Band.
The former head teacher at Olde No.
The guide only got him the job a couple months before the Trojan Horse letter went public.
Achmed says any is amazing that the government was concerned about at this school.
This new headteacher had little to do with.
He’d just taken charge.
If anything, Achmed says the changes at old know were on him as chair of Governors, Aquafil responsible for the headteacher losing his career still feels responsible.
At one point Ahmed got up to stir something delicious.
Smelling on the stove, a South African rice dish.
I looked around and I realized it almost seemed like he was camping out.
The drafty flat the twin bed.
He was apparently stuffing himself into each night comma.
It’s a big guy, well over 6 feet tall.
The space heater, the ironing board doubling as a side table.
There was no artwork or photos or anything personal in there apart from piles of red and blue and green document boxes filled with hard copies of Trojan Horse Records, which Achmed told me he lugs around every time he moves house.
I asked him where’s your family by the way.
Your wife, kids.
Suddenly they permanently and then you’re here permanently, but I can’t leave until this justice.
That’s why you’re here solely because you want to try and get justice for this whole Trojan horse thing.
I’ve gotta go back permanently until years at least some form of Terry Crews will justice just because I know at some point we’re going to go to court, isn’t it?
Someone will come along.
If not you if you’re not.
If your story, someone somewhere, the truth always come out.
And on the side of truth is time.
Something about Ahmed became apparent as the day went on.
He was driven to talk at length about the Trojan horse scandal and the lies.
He was sure the whole thing was based on.
But when Brian and I would try to bring up the place where it seemed like the whole thing started, Adderly and the Trojan horse after he would pull back.
Do you remember?
Can you remember when you first heard about the Trojan Horse letter?
Oh my word, I can’t remember that.
Do you remember when you first read it?
I don’t think I ever did.
You’ve never read the Trojan horse.
No, this is the letter that started it.
All I know is that this guy who was living thousands of miles away from his family to seek justice for the Georgia horse affair, had never read the Trojan Horse letter.
It beggared belief.
We tried to get him to read our copy.
Now just read that and let us know why would you want me to read it?
‘cause you’ve never read it.
We wanna talk to you about it, yeah, but I’m not.
I don’t read like you read, you see.
I like to read with a pin and with a highlighter.
You’ll see I’ve got.
So you see on there the back this colored pintles do all of that while you do that, I’ll make a cup of tea.
Barely looked at it, but later as I was doing the dishes and lighting up a New York style cheesecake he’d bought, especially for Brian, his avoidance of Adderly and the letter started to relent.
But the Trojan was so I don’t know.
Have you spoken to us every restricting?
Who have you spoken to from the Adderley leadership team?
Achmed asked us, we told him we weren’t having much success with that one nobody, and that’s when I came in, started talking about Mark Walters, Mark Walters, the former deputy headteacher of Adderly Primary School, who had offered that curiously late testimony, saying he was inside the room with Ravana Dar as she opened the envelopes from the Muslim teaching assistants and pulled out resignation letters.
It turned out Achmed Newmark 2 because, like Mrs.
Dar market, also worked at old No.
And after Mrs.
Dart took the job at early, Mark joined her.
I liked Mark because he was a very good teacher.
He wasn’t gentleman nice man.
Market taught Achmed kids.
He’d given special attention to his older son, who’d been having a hard time academically.
Achmed and his wife credit Mark Wood, turning their sons whole school career around.
Mark had been documents house Achmed Rd.
References for him, he and Mark Mrs Dar would see each other at a local tutoring center on Saturdays.
They even talked about going to South Africa together to do work in schools there.
However, when Trojan was happened.
Parkview was in the front in the newspapers, but I said look old now is going to be next.
So then I contacted.
There is a email there and I said the inspector said they come into old now can you write me?
Can you email me something that I can present to these people?
Because you were in the school that there is no extremism in or no.
I didn’t hear a word from her.
I heard nothing from her.
You’ve never heard from her son.
Not a word since then.
She was like my sister almost, you know we.
Our relationship was very good so I was shocked for me.
That was the biggest shock.
Occmed also wrote to Mark Walters asking for the same support mark ignored him too and then heat up and moved to Australia without Achmed ever seeing him again.
Achmed told us he was sure Mark had first hand knowledge about the ETA, resignations at Adderly and maybe about the Trojan Horse letter too.
He said if we were interested in nailing down who wrote the letter, mark was definitely someone worth pursuing.
But if he’s pressured, you will speak.
You think if he was pressured, he would.
He was ‘cause we’ve contacted him.
We’ve we’ve written him and called, yeah, you will speak.
In fact, on my Facebook I put in markwalter million times to try and find him, really.
The weakness I can tell you is Michael.
About a week after our visit to Wales, I got a message from Mohammed Salam Hamza.
Can you text me Mark Walters, phone number, school and home address please?
We gave up with a call.
I’m gonna come to Caseys Hamza.
Or we could tell Mark had been on his mind since we left.
I can’t believe that he.
Would let us all be accused falsely for so long.
We told Ahmed we’re thinking of flying to Australia to try to speak to Mark Weiner was a little crazy.
It’s a long way to go for an interview with someone who might or might not help us crack open this mystery.
But we’re kind of desperate.
Over the course of the core, we realized I would have liked to have looked him in the eye to talk to him.
Ahmed is considering a trip to we all decided it made some sort of weird sense for us to go together.
Can you even go to Australia like I don’t even know like don’t you have like a dental practice?
As a friendly intermediary, I’ma thought he could help us get our meeting with Mark but also Ahmed could use a trip to try and get something he wanted which is personal.
He wanted Mark to simply say to him.
I know you know an extremist, I know you know some dangerous plotting Muslim.
And so we’re off to see Mark Walters in Australia on a glimmer of hope that he could help us put this letter, and the affair started to bed from serial productions, the New York Times I’m homicide, I’m Brian Reed I’ma Decosta.
This is the Trojan horse fair.
We arrived at our hotel near Perth, me from Birmingham.
I’m from Wales, Brian from New York, a little worse for wear.
AMA delayed of foot surgery to accommodate our trip and being all cramped up on a long haul flight hadn’t been friendly to him so my feet were really giving me.
It was really so I’m that boat new trainers last week and set my feet up.
Man killed me.
It was killing me.
Top of mine yeah yeah his foot did look bad but there’s nothing I could do for him all good.
I would said he put his trains back on the truth.
Need to come out somehow is indeed those were his actual words as he did up his shoes.
Swollen feet be damned, Ahmed was on a mission.
We turn up to Australia with the following information.
We knew that Mark Walters was a deputy principal in a suburb of Perth.
Weed called and emailed him several times over the previous year but never heard back from him.
Would also find a home address for an M Walters right nearby his school.
That’s where we decided to approach Mark at his home rather than at work.
Brian, I would knock by ourselves first without a myth and no recorders.
We figured that would be a little less scary for him.
Alright man you ready this is walking over your nervous little bit.
Around 6:30 we headed to marks complex it had just gone dark OK I feel good I feel I’m going to crack jokes or I’m just going to be self aware and say that I know this is surprising.
Just yeah just be there for each other.
It’s both be involved.
OK yeah of course yeah I’m turning this off ready.
We don’t know if it was him showering.
We’d walk up to marks condo, and as I was about to knock on the door, I heard a shower going through the window beside us.
I mean, it probably is him showering.
We decided to wait in the car for roughly shower length.
Amount of time.
Then headed back to the condo to try again.
I don’t like seeing you nervous ‘cause then you like make me nervous.
So I wasn’t nervous to mellow out and chill and then I’ll be chilled.
Yeah, I’m not nervous all right.
Fuck this way.
Wrong address, the unit was home to a Frenchman blasting club music with his friend and a case of booze.
He said he didn’t know if a mark Walters used to live there or not.
Our best shot had evaporated like that.
It was Friday night, which meant we had two days to try and find Mark at home.
Said you asleep no, I’m just relaxing.
I’m recording by the way.
Back at the hotel we debriefed talk, but you’re successful in anything I wouldn’t use the word successful.
No wrong address.
Some French guy.
But anyway, we found another address that looks actually quite nearby and also likely.
You do know what you look like, yeah?
We’re gonna go in the morning at 8:30.
Early the next day we woke up a woman who was not Mark Walters, tried another address and another woman.
Also not Mark Walters.
Brian, I joked that Monk might have chosen a great birthday area as a new home, not only for its remoteness and stunning weather, but also for its noticeably high concentration of invoices per capita.
And then set a new Ahmed pumped up.
He emailed us a file.
He tapped a realtor who cheered him on a database of property sales to people named Mark Walters all over WA.
Over lunch I started flicking through the attachment and a woman’s name jumped out at me as Brazilian sounding out a vague memory of somebody in Birmingham saying something about Mark being Brazilian or marrying a Brazilian.
I googled her name and her Pinterest Page came up with a picture of her and mark does markway as Mark.
That’s his wife.
That’s Mark that’s his wife.
That’s their address, that’s their address.
Mid now there’s now we’re now.
This is it.
Yeah, this isn’t like crap shoots anymore.
I’m going to get doubled espresso.
Yeah, I’m going to get a nice smooth for the road, yeah?
Alright, I’m texting achmed.
The right house.
Headed there now.
We’ll report back later.
Thumbs up and a heart.
Have you prayed?
I prayed this morning.
Are you supposed to do prayer right now?
Yeah, alright man, let’s not bring that in God.
I’m on the road.
We needed all the help we could get.
I’ll pray I’ll pray before we in the place I can actually, it’d be really nice, yeah.
Humsa wandered over to a grassy Knoll overlooking the Indian Ocean.
There was a breeze blowing, he prayed.
Good prayer, good prayer.
That spot felt strong.
Yeah yeah, really nice.
Really, really was nice.
Unless you got to put my shoes back on.
She would do it.
I think it’ll help articulate just to get in the right frame of mind.
Why should Mark tell us what he knows?
You know, if you just like, why do you guys care about this?
Quite honestly, it’s like.
Oh man, it’s like.
It’s about making him realize.
That’s something that began so insignificant.
Had such a profound impact on so many lives.
I’m talking about generally what was happening in those schools.
The message that you don’t have to.
Strip everything that you stand for the values that you’re born with or you live by, you know it can all be achieved without you having to lose yourself and become something else you know you know.
It’s not combined re choice.
I’m either this or I’m that in order for me to be successful, I have to be a certain kind of person and be a certain kind of way and believe in a certain kind of thing.
You know if I’m precious about my belief system, if I’m precious about my background, if I’m precious about my culture, all of these things will actually hold me back and there’s no success for me.
And so I have a choice.
No, that’s not true.
So I don’t know how we’re going to put all that across on a doorstep of someone who clearly does not want us there.
It’s gonna be difficult.
This is helpful.
This is why I needed to like get this back in my head ‘cause we’ve been so much in the minutiae of the white Pages and Google Maps, this is good.
I feel good.
You ready, yeah, that’s good let’s go alright, let’s go to his house.
I don’t know.
Hey Achmed, it’s Brian.
OK, so it didn’t go great.
We’re sitting in our rental car in a strip mall parking lot, about 100 yards for Mark Walters House.
Yeah, we knocked.
He answered the door, I said Mark Walters, he said, who’s asking?
I said, I’m Brian Reed.
I’m sure this is very surprising and he said you need to get off the property now and slam the door shut.
That’s not very good, is it?
No, and we stood out there knocking a bit saying we don’t mean to cause you to stress, we’re just doing our job.
We think it’s really important to talk.
Please hear us out for five minutes.
We’ve come all this way and then we we.
I don’t know if I mentioned this to you, but we had written a letter.
In which we explain that you’re here.
And how much you respect him and how you’re hoping to speak to him and so anyway, right before we left, I said, I shouted in I’m leaving you a letter mark, please read it.
We left the letter in the door and then we kind of sat on the curb across the street for a while.
No one stirring.
And now we’re kind of just in a shopping center outside where he lives.
Yeah, I will just go speak to him.
I’ll go to I’m.
I don’t think you’ll shut the door in my face.
His first reaction is normal.
You know the first reaction to most journalists.
Is where you want to shut the door.
So I don’t think you must be surprised about that.
So you’ve been on the receiving end of this.
Yes, I have.
Normal people are just generally scared of journalists.
Journalists are not to write the truth you see.
So This is why people are scared.
And if you’re crook then you also scared of journalists because they might write the truth.
So either way, the people that are honest and dishonest don’t like journalists.
You have a lot of power over people’s lives and people feel very helpless and especially now for him because this is now his new home.
You are going to bring all the bad news back to his new life and it doesn’t want that, and I think he’s also a victim in all of this nonsense that went on.
I don’t think he.
Is the bad guy so dumb?
Yeah, I know I’ll go speak to him, that’s not a problem.
We went back to the hotel and found documented in his room.
Oh you, horrible man.
You went to torture mark, but at this point it was late.
We wanted to give Mark a chance to read the letter we’d left for him, lodged above the front door Nob.
We take Achmed over to marks first thing in the morning while we were out all day augmented made friends with a taxi driver at the mosque downtown who offered to bring us some Curry for dinner.
We sat and AC metal hotel room while we waited Ockman asked if he could take a look at some of the court files from the utterly employment case.
He hadn’t seen them before.
I gave the witness statements from Ravana, Dar and Mark Walters and he lounged on his bed in a white T shirt and sweatpants, reading them.
And I think he was surprised how much of their narrative struck him as odd.
You see that, but I don’t understand.
That makes no sense, Brian.
It says here in the first few parts parents you never criticizing.
And making Deragatory remarks.
About the head teacher in the playground.
You know there are parts in the statements about conservative Salafi parents hurling abuse at Mrs Dar on a daily basis, which Achmed had a lot of trouble picturing.
Why would you take abuse for years that makes no sense?
There were protocols for dealing with angry parents at schools and especially knowing Mrs Dar how authoritative she was.
Ackman couldn’t imagine her just taking it.
I’m not saying that there is no unruly behavior, but it’s very easy to deal with it.
So if there’s ever been going on for years that make no sense to me, because now her teacher just really like a unique kind of beyond situation.
No, no no, which is what they’re claiming it was really bad.
But what I’m saying is she’s a very forceful person, must die, is very forceful, and she will allow the parent to abuse their day in day out.
Does it make sense to you?
Just think logically.
Don’t try and be a journalist to just use simple minds.
Achmed had started off relaxed on the bed, now reading what his old colleagues had sworn to in a tribunal.
He was agitated.
You see, This is why I don’t read these things.
You know it’s just.
You asked to read it.
Yeah, I know, but I don’t wanna do it.
Read this, Brian.
Alright, sleep well.
Get some rest, get some rest.
OK let’s be fresh thank you for the evening we called it a night.
I was in my room down the hall about to get in bed.
When there was a knock at the door, it was Achmed.
He said he couldn’t sleep.
Could I lend him Mark Walters?
His witness statement for the evening he asked.
I read the this last night.
And I read it again this morning.
Hamza and Achmed and I are headed to marks early the next day.
Sunday Achmed dressed up for the occasion oppressed shirt and blazer and he has marks witness statement in his hands.
What do you understand by the term overacting?
Overacting I know.
My wife sometimes will they will say oh what a terrible actor or something they will say she’s overacting.
Yeah, and how do you guys understand that you’re exaggerating your emotions like more than a normal person would, or you’re not being truthful in your performance.
You know you’re being a little hokey or fake.
That’s what I thought of the resignation.
Achmed reads Mark Walters account of the day.
The envelopes arrived from the three Muslim TAS.
I’ll start with the first, but on the 6th of December, 2012 at approximately quarter past one, I was in a route to Mr Stars offers for pre arranged meeting.
I’ll come back I’ll I’ll come back through the bunch that stand out as they approach the main school Edmond office, Mr appeared at the doorway.
I was accompanied by the other deputy, a teacher, and Nila Ashraf.
I walked the few steps directly into monsters office.
Miss Door held the door open for us and I saw she had multiple envelopes in her hand.
The three of us entered the office and sat down at the large meeting table, and I recall noting that the envelope looked thicker than usual as I commenced discussions.
OK, let’s stop there.
I recall noting that the envelopes look thicker than usual.
That is something silly to say that don’t fit.
Yeah, I was actually actually when you just when you just read that aloud.
I I noted that too.
That doesn’t fit because that they come in all the time with envelopes.
And why would you say that?
That that just sounds suspicious to me.
That’s just added four for overacting.
And their resignation letters, I’m told, are two sheets out, just two sheets make envelope look thick.
True, it just don’t feel right.
And then she opened it up in front of them every time.
Which is very convenient with all of these resignations, they altogether, Marcus Day and Neil’s Day, and she’s there.
She’s help keeping the door open for them.
That’s also a bit.
But I’ve been in the office multiple times.
And she’s not necessarily, you know.
I just found it.
Or maybe it, maybe it happened like that, but.
I just find that strange.
When we first met him a couple months earlier in Wales, Akman was very reluctant to accept the possibility that these people, he thought highly of Ravana, Dar, and Mark Walters might have done something untoward regarding the resignation letters by the time he tricked to Australia.
I think it’s fair to say he’d concluded that something had gone awry, but he wasn’t sure what, precisely and whatever had happened.
He seemed to imagine that everyone’s motives had been unmalicious a forgivable mistake, but this morning on our way to Mark Walters.
House occmed come to series Van Adar and Mark Walters response to that as as calculated.
I think these people were driving risks up the wall.
And she wanted to get rid of them.
That’s just what my gut is telling me.
And reading this man’s response.
Don’t make that disappear.
It feels choreographed.
If it was the truth, she would have had no problem to say I was in my office.
I opened it up.
I saw this resignation letters.
I called in my deputies and assistant to understand that she would have had no issue.
But I don’t believe that they were in the room when she opened it.
That’s it, right?
We pulled up to marks letters still there.
The lead is still there.
Where do you guys see the envelope we’d left for him was still wedged in the front door.
The door and his car, a yellow Toyota, also appeared not to have moved since we were here yesterday.
Now just go knock.
There’s no point of hanging around.
You came all the way from the UK to meet this man to this committee.
After the break Aquaknox alright alright good luck.
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In every episode, we peek into an intimate corner of someones life and learn about what love means to them.
35 years with another person, I’ve never spent that much time with anyone else, so we both kind of said I love you pretty fast as long as they keep the dance up, I’ll keep the dance up and she felt the same way an instant connection.
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Sunday morning Ahmed walking up to Mark Walters is one story house on the edge of a world in development near Perth.
Brian, I parked a few houses down.
This is crazy.
Alright, I’m looking through the back.
He’s at the door.
He’s knocking, he’s knocking.
I’m so nervous for him, he’s so brave.
Yeah, nervous too.
He’s kind of pacing at the door right now.
He stepped away a bit.
Oh, he’s knocking quite drunk there.
He’s pacing in front of the house.
Now he’s doing a wide pace, hands in his pockets beige blazer khakis.
If you do have eyeballs on the front.
In your work and you don’t know the cost is here.
Now you’re gonna be like what fresh hell is this two journalists at my door yesterday.
Now I have a giant ex colleague based around my front lawn.
How long is it been?
It’s been about 7 minutes.
It’s been that long.
I thought it just felt that long.
No, it’s generally been long.
It’s starting to become a scene, isn’t it?
I’m aware of the neighbors.
I know there’s a dog doesn’t like dogs.
I thought this time would creep, but it’s actually flying like so on edge.
The neighbors told him to clear off.
Oh, really, I think so.
OK, I need to watching him come back to our car.
He looks a little dejected.
The neighbor said this, you know why you nothing?
Our time was quite loud.
Ahmed got in the passenger seat, but it’s not.
It’s not a word not to whisper.
Nothing in the house.
Did you shout?
Did you say like it’s Achmed I all the time I will do the windows by each window and this is what myself right in the neighborhood.
I’m talking loud and what did you say?
I actually talked to the customer mark just because few minutes it’ll be did it over and over and over like a lunatic.
The neighbors can hear me so surely he can hear me if he’s inside.
So he must be inside the latest in the door.
We weren’t very good friendly terms, you know I I plan for him and others to come to South Africa to come help us with our schools day and.
It’s very sad that it all ended in such disastrous fashion for everyone.
We have for lunch then came back.
The envelope is gone.
Finally, some thrilling signs of action.
Since we’ve been here this morning, the light wasn’t on.
The light is unknown.
Maybe went to stay at a family member’s house or friends house.
We sat there, I’d link unsure what to do.
Now I’m just bored.
I was behind the wheel, Senator Ahmed and Brian note to someone behind us.
A woman marks next door.
Neighbor was coming at the car aggressively with a phone out photographing us.
Taking a picture of the car.
I’m gonna go talk to her.
I’m gonna go talk to her.
Take your things with you, look like more like a journalist.
Hampton Amateur Brian to take his recorder with him because it looked more like a journalist, but in his rush to intercept the neighbor, Brian left in the backseat running.
It’s better he steps out.
Brian walked up to the woman and offered her a business card to introduce himself, but she wouldn’t take it from him.
She kept clutching her phone with a scowl on her face and continued taking pictures.
Then a man we assume was her husband came down the driveway.
You don’t look very happy either.
Hey monkey, I’ll get good stuff.
It’s just open up the door.
Oh Mark, you could stop all of this.
Just open the bloody door, Ahmed mumbled.
Now the woman was right outside Ahmed window with her phone in his face.
My wife taking pictures of us because you’re harassing us and your stalking harassing already told the police we know exactly who you are harassing you.
We got nothing to do with you.
Dad neighborhood leave, but we’re not coming to speak to you.
Access to see Brian in my side mirror.
Just decorating and talking to the husband.
Even with deployment Disney, he’s probably.
I explain what he’s doing, I don’t.
I don’t know what.
My husband looked very aggressive.
I don’t know if it’s still but you see now it’s a natural instinct when you look the same, but their flock together so they will listen to him a bit more than if they had to be there.
Oh yeah, obviously that wouldn’t give us 2 minutes, but like I mean, the fact that he’s managed to keep him talking for this long is good enough.
I think he’s a good, decent diplomats.
Yeah, he’s good.
He’s good for this stuff.
I would have lost my patience about 20 minutes ago.
Do you think?
I don’t think that went well.
I mean, it’s not really going.
Have you upset the neighbors?
The neighbors are not very happy we got to go.
Fuck, can’t believe this shit.
That was crazy woman like we know who you are.
We know what’s going on.
This isn’t Birmingham.
We know this story.
We know what’s happening.
How did they know that you must have spoken to them and they said he’s not there?
I said he’s left he’s not been here again.
I said that’s fine if that’s true.
That’s good to know the wife was.
I mean, way more upset than the husband.
They said they called the police.
I said I’m happy to speak to the police.
We’re not doing anything wrong, but your belt on.
I said why are you filming his house?
I said we’re not filming.
We have a microphone.
You’re welcome to look at it.
We’re talking to each other in the car.
We’ve not filmed.
He said who are the two cronies who are filming yesterday?
I said I’ve been here every time I’m with these guys.
Brown, she’s worried about 2 Browns.
She came to the client said get out of our neighborhood.
I think there were some undertones there for sure.
I sensed ethnic apprehension in her voice.
Yeah, yeah, she just kept saying, we know what the story is.
We know it’s about we know who you are.
We know who you are.
We know who you are.
But how did she know the story?
That’s what I’m.
That’s what I’m interested in.
They seem to know ‘cause I said.
Well, I said, you know, it’s a story about school that he used to work in.
I’m here all the way from New York because as part of my job I need to make sure before I air it that I get a chance to talk to him and give him a chance to respond.
He said was obviously not interested.
He’s obviously not interested.
I said, I understand that this is a situation where I still need to make sure he responds.
I’m sorry that I freaked you guys out.
He doesn’t want to deal with this.
Shit is what he said so angry they demeanour the particular demeanor look so aggressive and so angry.
She was very upset.
She was like your liar, you’re a liar.
You’re a liar.
I said I’m a journalist, she said, you’re a liar.
I can understand they may be upset because they feel you.
There’s something going on that they’re not too sure what’s going on.
They should come and ask questions, so then yeah, come and ask questions.
Don’t charge out.
Well, I think he told him something.
Achmed took in what this could mean the way the couple was speaking to me.
Mark doesn’t want to deal with this shit.
You’re a liar.
This isn’t Birmingham.
It seemed like not only was mark avoiding him, but he might have said something bad about Achmed or about all of us to his neighbors.
What do you mean?
What can I do enabled?
I’m glad you experience a little bit.
You know when you said X and she said no, you’re lying.
Was that what we experience all the time as Muslims?
But there would have calmed down because you spoke to them brand.
If I do got out of the car, I don’t think they would have been very calm for sure.
You were OK because you were in the neighborhood and your neighborhood.
‘cause it would have ended in minutes ‘cause I would just stepped out Fucking bug the shit out of them.
Your colleague is bit more aggressive than you brand.
This guy gets riled up.
This has happened before.
I don’t understand why.
Honestly, I don’t understand why.
You have to take it and it wasn’t taking it, not you, not you.
I just mean in general I mean the royal you, you know the royal you you did.
Well you did really well.
There’s a bigger picture, don’t let them distract you.
If you want to.
Slowly show people the reality of Muslims.
Then you have to be better than them.
It it don’t it.
Don’t take it.
I know I don’t expect you to agree with you above and beyond like to like to be treated equally.
It’s like forget that man.
So I feel like.
Also I feel like all right.
So if I walk on tip toes and egg shells you might you might ignore me but like it’s like you know what you’re going to think.
Whatever you think of me anyway, what I’m saying is the brown person.
You will always be seen as the aggressor.
You bum dachman I’m just disappointed.
You seemed pretty confident that he would talk to you.
Yeah, he said.
Well, see if I if I could meet him in person.
He would speak to me.
Well, clearly clearly you being here hasn’t helped.
Judging from like filter through the osmosis.
Of his neighbors.
Sounds like he didn’t frame it well.
He didn’t seem sympathetic to your being here or moved by your being here.
I’m sorry Achmed no, no it’s not a problem for me.
But I don’t know.
I think it’s just scares me.
My gut told me that this.
Opponent in all of this as well.
We might just have to sit here and accept the fact that like we are not going to get the truth, no, no, no no no.
I believe that we can get the truth.
You might not be able to get the truth.
We can get the truth in a court of law.
Right, But then but then OK, re phrasing that it basically means that the truth is further delayed, yeah, but that is.
This is what I’ve told you, isn’t it?
For me, the the goal is not the end.
My goal is just to struggle and if you have that vision then you never.
You have to be patient.
It was somewhere along this aimless car, right that I realized we weren’t going to get an answer.
We weren’t going to know for sure what happened in Richmond office that day with the envelopes or why Mark Walters and any letter of testimony about it was delayed for so long.
We weren’t going to find out whether Mark or any dash Rev give true accounts of what they saw.
We don’t know whether they did anything wrong at all, and most disappointingly, we weren’t going to get a confession out of anyone involved in crafting the Trojan horse that are not the author or authors or a first hand witness.
Meaning we have no ability to say for sure who wrote the letter or why.
Which is pretty much what Brian told me was going to happen the first night I met him.
Standing backstage as a blood throughout my pitch for the story.
What he said to me was.
It’s gonna be really hard to figure out who wrote the letter.
You’re probably not going to prove it.
But he also told me that doesn’t mean the story isn’t worth doing, because if I was doing it right, I’ll still make revelations along the way that could be meaningful.
Well, we can tell you is this.
Once Upon a time a head teacher named responded or was in trouble because of four teaching assistants and Burnley city counsels investigators.
We can say strange letter appeared in the nick of time claiming that EA’s in the City Council or part of a Muslim plot and that they had conspired to frame Mrs Da.
We can say that this letter was very useful to Mrs.
She brandished it around insisting she was a victim of conspiracy and ultimately her name was cleared.
We can say the police knew the letter was bogus and that was told to Michael Gove that soup AKA raised an alarm that Peter Clark produced his plot.
No problem, maybe plot but it won’t save plot report and we can tell you about two essential eyewitnesses to the envelope opening who utterly primary school kept puzzlingly hidden for nearly a year.
But whether these revelations are meaningful.
I doubt it.
I believe without someone saying I wrote the letter or I have proof of who wrote the letter.
The Trojan Horse affair will rumble on and on.
At one point in the car, as I was going on again about journalism being useless, Brian asked him a question which you might as well been asking me.
Because people, maybe we can ask you this why?
Why are you participating with us?
Why are you talking to us?
Yeah, I don’t know.
It’s a good question because I test.
Why bother with this at all then with journalism?
I’m thought about it for a second.
In Islam, we are taught that when you’re oppressed you have to speak.
If you can’t change it physically.
The only alternative is to speak.
One of the highest forms of.
Like I don’t like to use this word because it’s not understood very well.
The word is jihad, but one of the highest forms of sacrifice is to speak against the dictator when oppressor and tell him to his face that he’s an oppressor and a dictator.
I believe in this too.
The value of speaking, if there’s nothing else you can do to change something.
I went to journalism on that premise.
This series is what that sounds like.
But while the implication of that guidance, to me at least, and I’m no scholar.
Is that speaking truth will lead to change.
I don’t know if the Prophet peace be upon him actually said that.
Actually said where it would lead.
He just said speaking truth in the face of oppression.
One of the greatest forms of jihad.
Forms a struggle.
And so that’s where I’m left.
Wondering if all of this what we’ve told you.
Is headed towards change.
Or is this just another profile of the struggle?
Can can we?
Can we not lose hope just because?
Like I don’t want to lose hope until you are on a plane?
No no, no no.
Even if I go back to the UK for me this was positive.
You know, because I came here.
I did something.
I did warn Homza I knew how these things normally go.
Rarely is there one big revelation that undoes years of misinformation and untruth.
Most decent journalism is an exercise in incremental understanding.
The Trojan Horse letter, though even with my tempered expectations, I was surprised by how willing people have been to let it stand unchallenged.
People are depressingly unbothered that this harmful myth about Muslims persists.
The mystery of the Trojan Horse letter could be resolved.
The person or people who sat down one day to type out that document, or perhaps others who know about it.
They’re almost certainly out there right now, possibly strolling down Alum Rock Rd, maybe even listening to this.
But in order for that resolution to happen, government officials or the police, the British public, they would have to decide that this task determining the perpetrator of a massive nationwide hoax.
Is their responsibility.
And probably should have always been so that it wasn’t left to a doctor turned journalism student in search of a school project, which is to say, a bunch of people would have to care enough.
And Hamza is right, we may just be a far away from that.
On our last day, together with Achmed in Perth after having emailed Mark again and trying his wife a few times with no response, hams and I watched from the car as Achmed strolled through a primary school gate and across the parking lot and probably pass asked camera.
Into the schools reception area with an envelope in his hand containing a letter which comes and I had both witnessed him seal inside a final written plea for Mark Walters to simply talk to him.
Achmed would stand in that primary school reception area just a few feet away from Mark Walters, who, as the principle LED Achmed know, was sitting in his office on the other side of a door.
Refusing to come out.
The Trojan Horse affair is produced by Hamza Saeed and me, along with Rebecca Lacks.
The show is edited by Sarah Koenig.
Additional editing by IRA Glass and by her contributing editor, Aisha manager Siddiqui.
Fact checking in research by Mark Raleigh and Ben Flynn.
Original score by Thomas Miller with additional music by Matt McGinley and Steven Jackson.
Sound design, mixing and music supervision by Stephen Jackson and filled Omaha ski at the audio non visual company.
Julie Snyder is our executive editor.
Neil drumming is managing editor.
Supervising producer isn’t day.
Chubu executive assistant is Alberto DeLeon.
Sam Dolnick is an assistant managing editor of the New York Times.
Special thanks to Aaron Cooney, Nathan Brown, forensic linguist, James Fitzgerald, and Rob Leonard and his team are Hofstra University, Chris Henry, Simon Bruce, Johnny Begue, Maria Fernanda, Danielle Australia, also Solange Franklin.
Read Paula and Howard Reed, Adam and Stephanie Reid.
Vera Franklin, Chrysalis Civic, Abbas Hussain.
Moment of Shaheed Katie Fuchs, Jordan Cohen Jonathan Haywood Elizabeth Davis Maurer Elena Cerro Susan Wessling Clifford levy.
In Council by Danny Green.
Aluminium R Martin Psalms Emma Lynch Simone progress Gavin Miller Constant Pendleton Allison Sherry Roberts tanky Selena McLaren.
The distribution team at the New York Times.
Jeffrey Miranda John McNally, Julia Simon, and Lauren Jackson.
The marketing team at the Times.
Lindsay Fischler and Megan Shepherd.
And thanks also to rain and Borelli, Terry Godwin, slaughter.
Peter rents John Michael Murphy, Alexa Brown, Sam Posner, Matthew Liquits, the brand identity team with the New York Times, Kelly Dole Jason, Fuji Cooney, Hanaho Denisha Mooney, Lucy Jones, Catherine Roach, Nina Lasam, Matthew Lloyd, Thomas, Stephanie Price Tag and Aussie Morgan Jones, and Christopher mottos.
The Trojan Horse affair is made by serial productions and the New York Times.
The Trojan Horse affair is supported by better help online therapy.
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