Telegraph : 'Manchester terror plot' suspect pictured for first time

Monday, April 13, 2009

'Manchester terror plot' suspect pictured for first time

The face of one of the Pakistani students arrested as part of an alleged Easter bomb plot to blow up shopping centres in Manchester can be revealed for the first time as it emerged a flat he stayed at is owned by a suspected terrorist financier.

By Duncan Gardham and Aislinn Simpson | April 13, 2009

The picture, obtained by the Daily Telegraph, shows Janas Khan, 25, a student at Hope University in Liverpool who was illegally moonlighting as a security guard.

The company he worked for had provided security for England and Liverpool footballers although Khan was not involved in that side of the business.

He worked as a £6-an hour security guard at building sites around Liverpool until his cousin was deported for alleged visa violations in January.

Khan comes from Peshawar, near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, where he studied for a degree designed to prepare students for medical school at the Government Superior Science College.

He obtained his passport in September 2006 and is thought to have arranged his student visa and travel to Britain shortly afterwards.

Haroon Khan who employed the arrested man, said: "He is very slight, not a big guy at all. We have a gym here but he never used it.

"He was a very clever lad but a bit of a loner, always looking for attention or company."

Khan resigned from his job but signed on with another company which employed him to act as a security guard at a new Homebase which opened in Clitheroe, Lancashire last week.

The store is close to a chemical plant run by Johnson Matthey and it is suspected the men may have been using their jobs as security guards to scout potential targets.

MI5 observed the men filming themselves outside the Trafford and Arndale shopping centres and St Ann's Square in Manchester and they also visited a number of second-hand car dealerships.

Operation Pathway to arrest the men had to be brought forward by 24 hours last week after Britain's most senior counter-terrorism police officer, Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, inadvertently revealed details of the operation on a piece of paper as he went into Downing Street.

Police suspect the men were sent to Britain as suicide bombers by al-Qaeda planners in Pakistan's tribal areas, not far from Peshawar.

Khan is thought to have stayed at a flat raided in Earle Road in Wavertree, Liverpool.

The property is owned by Mohammed Benhammedi who has an interest in a property firm called Ozlam Properties Ltd.

Benhammedi has been identified by the Americans as an alleged "key financier" for the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which is associated with al-Qaeda, and was arrested in 2002 in Iran for allegedly attempting to enter Afghanistan.

He was arrested in Britain in 2006 for alleged terrorist activity in Iraq but released five months later.

His assets were frozen under a United Nations resolution after he was named by the US Treasury and he is still the subject of an Interpol appeal.

His partner in Ozlam properties, Asaad Shalash, said he had not seen Benhammedi for 18 months.

Mr Shalash arranged the rental of the property in Earle Road to three students, he believed were studying accountancy, one of whom was arrested there on Wednesday.

Khan was arrested at a bedsit where he was staying in Clitheroe along with fellow security guard, Umar Farooq.

Police have been given another week to question 11 men aged between 22 and 41, all but one of who are Pakistani citizens and most of whom arrived using student visas.

An 18-year-old was released without charge but immediately detained by immigration authorities.

Among the others arrested are Abid Naseer, 22, and Hamza Shinwari, another security guard, who both lived in Cheetham Hill, Manchester.

The main tenant where three men were arrested in Cedar Grove, Toxteth in Liverpool was Abdul Wahab Khan, 26, a student.

Searches are continuing at 10 addresses across the north west.