'Al Qaida emails' suspects denied bail
August 15, 2009
Five Pakistani men arrested in the North West over an alleged bomb plot were denied bail because of a series of suspicious emails, a judge has said.
The five - among 12 held by police in April's Operation Pathway - were never charged with any offence and are challenging attempts by the Government to deport them on the grounds that they pose a threat to national security.
Giving the reasons for the decision to deny bail at a hearing of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), Mr Justice Mitting said a series of emails exchanged between an address attributed to one of the men and another attributed to an al Qaida associate were "central to the open case against the appellants".
The emails from the man, identified only as XC, to "Sohaib" appear to refer to a "nikah", or wedding.
In a written statement, Mr Justice Mitting said: "They appear to refer to XC's interest in named girls and to a nikah (wedding) after 15th and before 20th April 2009 with one of them, Nadia. The assessment of the security service is that references to named girls could be to ingredients from which an explosive device could be made and that the reference to the nikah is 'most likely' reference to an intended attack."
Mr Justice Mitting said the final interpretation of the emails would have to wait until a full SIAC hearing takes place next year, adding the "undisputed fact" that no explosive materials have been recovered was "at least a significant gap" in the Government's case against the men.
The Home Secretary's case also rests on evidence that the five men attended one or both of two meetings on March 23 and April 1 in which the "nikah" was also discussed.
Lawyers for the men have sought assurances that they will not be arrested and detained indefinitely if they are forced to go back to Pakistan.
Mr Justice Mitting said: "The Secretary of State's case on the issue of safety on return is far from complete. All we can say, for present purposes, is that is it not clear that the Secretary of State will not be able to demonstrate that it is safe to return the appellants to Pakistan."
Of the five men, students Abdul Khan, 26, and Shoaib Khan, 27, from Liverpool, have waived their right to anonymity.
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