Liverpool terror suspects held over ‘intercepted email plot’
by Ben Rossington, Liverpool Echo | August 15, 2009
ANTI-TERROR police swooped on addresses in Liverpool and the North- West after intercepting emails suspected of detailing an al-Qaida bomb plot.
More details about the April raids, which saw 12 men – 11 Pakistani nationals and one Briton – arrested by Special Branch officers, were revealed by a judge who denied some of the suspects bail.
The suspects were arrested as part of Operation Pathway, but never charged with any criminal offences.
Instead, all but the Briton were released into the custody of the UK Border Agency.
Seven are now fighting government attempts to deport them and five applied for bail, including at least two from Liverpool, while their cases are heard.
But High Court Judge Mr Justice Mittings refused their application.
He 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.”
Richard Hermer, QC, for XC, told last month’s hearing of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) the security service’s account of the emails was “far-fetched” and the emails were no more than “innocent social discussions”.
Mr Justice Mitting said the final interpretation of the emails would have to wait until a full SIAC hearing takes place next year.
He said: “On the information, open and closed, which we have now, we are not satisfied that the assessment by the security service of their likely meaning is clearly wrong.”
Mr Justice Mitting added that the “undisputed fact” that no explosive materials have been recovered was “at least a significant gap” in the Government’s case against the men.
“Ultimately, it may prove to be more than that,” he said.
“On any view, it assists the appellants in their denial of participation in attack planning. But at present it does no more than that.”
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.
Of the suspects, students Abdul Khan, 26, and Shoaib Khan, 27, from Liverpool, have waived their right to anonymity.
Raids took place in Toxteth, Wavertree, Edge Hill and at John Moores University.
Hope University student Janas Khan, 25, was also among those arrested.