Al Jazeera : UK police release al-Qaeda suspects

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

UK police release al-Qaeda suspects

April 22, 2009

British police have released all 12 men arrested in raids earlier this month over a suspected al-Qaeda plot.

Officers did not charge the men, 11 Pakistanis and one Briton, who were seized on April 8 in a raid that had been brought forward due to a security breach.

The arrests, which took place in northwest England, were rushed through after Bob Quick, Britain's senior counter-terrorism officer, was photographed holding notes on the operation.

The security blunder led him to resign a day later.

Gordon Brown, Britain's prime minister, said at the time of the raids that police had foiled "a very big terrorist plot".

Insufficient evidence

The men, 10 of whom held student visas, were arrested in raids in Manchester, Liverpool and Clitheroe in Lancashire.

But prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to justify holding them any longer or bring charges against them.

Peter Fahy, chief constable for Greater Manchester police, defended the operation.

He said: "We had a duty to act to protect the public and a subsequent duty to investigate what lay before us.

"We don't take these decisions lightly and only carry out this kind of action if it is wholly justified."

All but one of the suspects are expected to be deported on national security grounds.

A lawyer for three of the men said they would fight to stay and continue their education in the UK.

Mohammed Ayub said: "Our clients have no criminal history, they were here lawfully on student visas and all were pursuing their studies and working part-time.

"Our clients are neither extremists nor terrorists. Their arrest and detention has been a very serious breach of their human rights."