Asian Image : Students held in terror raids to fly home

Friday, August 21, 2009

Students held in terror raids to fly home

August 21, 2009

Two Pakistani students arrested in a major anti-terror operation will fly home after deciding to leave the UK voluntarily, their solicitor said.

Abdul Khan, 26, and Shoaib Khan, 27, were among 12 people arrested by police in the north west of England in April as part of Operation Pathway.

They were never charged but remained in custody as the Home Office attempted to deport them on the grounds that they remained a threat to national security.

Their appeal against deportation was due to be heard by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) in March.

But after they were denied bail last month, the men decided to drop the appeal and go back to Pakistan.

Their solicitor, Amjad Malik, said the men would leave on an evening flight to Islamabad tonight.

Mr Malik said his clients were “devastated” at the decision to deny them bail.

The men, who are Category A prisoners at HMP Manchester, formerly Strangeways, could not bear the circumstances of their imprisonment, he said.

Both have been told they will be allowed to continue their studies from Pakistan.

Abdul Wahab Khan, who is from Tank, in the North West Frontier, was studying for a masters degree in computer studies at John Moores University in Liverpool.

Shoaib Khan, from Narowal in the Punjab, was studying for an accountancy qualification at the Kaplan Financial Institute.

He said: “They have been in detention for 134 days. They are in Category A conditions and are strip-searched.

”We are expecting them to stay in Category A conditions for another 10 months.

”They realised that they are going to remain in custody for another 10 months when they haven’t committed any crime - that amounts to a sentence of three years.

”Also, Ramadan is coming nearer and they are not happy with the facilities in place in prison, so they wish to spend their Eid (Muslim festival) with their families in Pakistan.”

He added: “The college establishment have said they will accommodate their education from Pakistan.”

Last week Mr Justice Mitting said the pair, and three others who applied for bail, would be held in custody until the hearing next year.

Evidence passed to the tribunal suggested one of the men, who cannot be identified, exchanged emails with an al Qaida associate.

Analysis by MI5 suggested references to girls’ names were code for bomb ingredients and mention of a wedding hinted at a planned attack.

Mr Malik said the UK Border Agency, part of the Home Office, had withdrawn its “intention to deport” orders to allow the men to return home.

A Home Office spokesman refused to comment.