Daily Times : Dead men plotting terror?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dead men plotting terror?

UK officials believe foiled attack was planned by Rashid Rauf

Daily Times Monitor | April 13, 2009

WASHINGTON: How could Rashid Rauf, a “high value” Al Qaeda target, be plotting terrorist attacks in Britain in April 2009 – as claimed by the British authorities – if he was killed months ago in a famous drone strike in Waziristan, as US officials claimed, in November 2008, the Nesweek magazine is asking.

According to one UK expert, some British investigators as well as Rauf’s family think that he may have survived.

Rauf, a former British resident, was allegedly a central figure in an August 2006 plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners. The plot was foiled after Rauf was arrested in Pakistan. But in December 2007, he escaped from custody. US officials suspected ‘inside’ help and the White House was delighted when a Predator operation supposedly took him out. Soon afterwards, however, Rauf’s Pakistani lawyer asked authorities to produce the body which they were apparently unable to do.

US officials talking to the Newsweek said US agencies still believed Rauf was killed in the strike.

“While it is not 100 percent confirmed,” said one of the officials, “there are good reasons to believe Rashid Rauf is dead.”

“And even if he’s dead,” the magazine says, “US and UK officials said it’s possible the Easter plot was hatched prior to November 2008 — meaning that Rauf’s reach may extend beyond the grave.”

The Times : Pakistani 'terror plot suspects' to be deported rather than charged

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pakistani 'terror plot suspects' to be deported rather than charged

Sean O’Neill, Zahid Hussain and Michael Evans | From The Times | April 13, 2009

Most of the Pakistani men arrested last week in an anti-terrorist operation will be deported rather than charged, senior counter-terrorism sources told The Times last night.

Officials in London and Islamabad said that Britain had begun seeking assurances about how the men would be treated if they were returned to Pakistan. “The British wanted to be reassured that if some of these men were deported they would not face torture,” an informed source in Pakistan said.

One of the 12 men detained, an 18-year-old, has been freed from anti-terrorist detention and is in the custody of immigration officials.

Investigators are concerned that they have not found any firm evidence linking the men to terrorist attack plans. A source close to the inquiry said: “There is already talk of coming up empty-handed and there is terrible infighting between the different forces involved.”

Operation Pathway, the codename for the inquiry, has already led to the resignation of Britain’s most senior anti-terrorist officer, Bob Quick, after he accidentally revealed details of the arrest plans to photographers in Downing Street. If it results in deportations rather than charges, it will also embarrass the Prime Minister, who said that the police were dealing with “a very big terrorist plot” and had criticised Pakistan for not doing more to tackle Islamist terrorism.

The latest discussions between London and Islamabad were disclosed as news emerged from Pakistan that its anti-terrorist agencies had been holding a British convert to Islam for two weeks. James McLintock, 44, was detained in Peshawar, from where many of the men arrested in Britain come, and is being questioned about helping British Muslim militants to make contacts in Pakistan.

Pakistani and British officials said that the arrest of Mr McLintock, from Dundee, was not linked to the continuing terrorism investigation in Britain. The last time he came to the attention of the British authorities, however, was in late 2003 when he was questioned by anti-terrorist police in Manchester, the city at the heart of the plot allegations.

The family of a man studying at Liverpool John Moores University said they believed that their son had been arrested and appealed for his release. Relatives of Mohammad Ramzan, from Dera in Pakistan, said that they had been unable to contact him since last week. Haji Hazrat Ali, his father, told Associated Press that Mr Ramzan, 25, travelled to Britain in 2006 and was studying for an MBA. Mr Ali said: “He is a very humble, gentle boy and always concentrates on his studies. I firmly believe he simply cannot be involved in any negative activity.”

The operation in Britain has been running covertly for several weeks and went public last Wednesday, within hours of Mr Quick’s blunder, with dramatic daylight raids in Manchester, Liverpool and Clitheroe, Lancashire. The remaining 11 detainees, 10 of whom are believed to be Pakistani nationals visiting Britain on student visas, are being questioned at police stations across the North of England.

Detectives have been granted a further seven days to detain the suspects, who range in age from 22 to 41. They can be questioned for a maximum of 28 days before they have to be charged or released.

The investigation is a joint operation between the North-West Counter-terrorism Unit, Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command and MI5, and involved Merseyside and Lancashire constabularies. The involvement of so many forces is said to have led to infighting and confusion over the command and direction of the inquiry.

NZ Herald : Police lack 'hardware' from plot

Monday, April 13, 2009

Police lack 'hardware' from plot

April 13, 2009

LONDON - The full extent of the damage caused by Metropolitan anti-terrorism chief Bob Quick's blunder has been revealed, with details that intelligence services were possibly several weeks away from breaking a suspected plot to bomb British targets.

Eleven men arrested in raids in the northwest of England remained in detention yesterday after magistrates gave police a further seven days to question them.

But there are extreme concerns within the security services that there may not be enough evidence amassed to build a case against them, because the raids were rushed forward as a result of Quick's mistake.

The Independent was told by security sources that a number of those being held were identified as possible terrorist plotters by intelligence agencies before they left Pakistan, and were "allowed to run" to Britain through the student visa system, where they were tracked for several months.

Quick, Scotland Yard's head of counter-terrorism, had been snapped clutching a dossier headlined "secret" and bearing details of a police operation as he arrived at the Prime Minister's office at No 10 Downing St. Although the Government was quick to issue a "D notice", preventing the UK media from publishing the photograph, there was a threat it would appear on the internet.

"It was a disaster," said a Government source. "This guy's sitting at this desk and every day he's studying surveillance photos brought in by his officers. He knows the power of the camera. After the microphone, it's the most powerful tool they've got; he must have been aware he would be photographed going into Downing St."

As Quick realised his career had been finished in the click of a camera lens, he faced a brutal dilemma. Originally the plan had been to make the arrests in the dead of night.

Security sources told the Independent that the raid was only one option and in fact the planned raid was possibly several weeks away.

The operation would have involved a minimum amount of fuss and was unlikely to have inflamed tensions among the local Muslim communities in Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside. Instead, with the alleged plot in danger of becoming public knowledge, Quick was forced to bring the arrests forward, sending in armed teams to pick up the 12 suspects - 10 of whom were from Pakistan and had entered the country on student visas - in public places.

The Government source said: "The difficulty was that they weren't at home in their beds where they wanted them to be. It was a huge risk - to go to a public place such as a shopping centre and detain them."

It was also highly embarrassing. Following a slew of stories in which officials had left top secret documents in public places, the country's counter-terrorism high command was an international laughing stock.

"We lecture the Pakistanis on taking a tough line against al Qaeda then we go and do this."

But questions are now being asked about whether the decision to bring the arrests forward after Quick's bungling compromised the intelligence gathering process. Counter-terrorism squad officers have dismissed claims that an attack was about to be launched when the suspects were arrested.

A source close to Scotland Yard said the evidence indicated any plot was still at the discussion stage, and none of the hardware necessary to carry out an attack had been acquired.

"This could turn out to be similar to cases in the past, where we have stalked groups who have made serious claims picked up in recorded conversations or in email traffic, but when we get down to it they did not have the necessary hardware to actually do it," the source said.

Some are concerned that the decision to launch a raid on Thursday after Quick's security gaffe has reduced the possibility of successful convictions. A counter-terrorism source said: "Intelligence officers will always tell you the longer you leave these things the better. There's always a balance between maximising evidence and public safety."

There have been unsubstantiated claims that the alleged plot focused on several sites including a nightclub and a shopping centre in Manchester. But no bomb-making equipment has been found so far and one man has been released into the custody of the Borders Agency.

The security services are believed to have been monitoring the situation for more than a month after their US counterparts intercepted suspicious emails and calls between Pakistan and the UK.

"For the last two or three months, we have been getting reports of Pakistani groups planning something in the UK, so some kind of operation was widely expected," said Mohammad Rana Amir, director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, a think-tank in Islamabad.

British intelligence sources describe the tribal areas along Pakistan's western frontier with Afghanistan as "the Grand Central Station" of modern international militancy. A growing threat has been some of the groups that reside there such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) or Jaish-e-Mohammed. Though once focused on Kashmir, they are increasingly turning to international targets.

LeT is suspected of being behind November's attack in Mumbai, India and that on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore last month.

Another potential new player in international terrorism is the Pakistani Taleban. Though their Afghan counterparts have refrained from making any threats outside their homeland, Baitullah Mahsud, leader of the Pakistani Taleban, has repeatedly threatened Western interests. While intelligence services believe such threats are largely bluster, there is a possibility of some kind of alliance with another more capable group.

In recent months, Western security services have become more positive about the battle against al Qaeda in Pakistan. Drone strikes - though they have deeply angered many ordinary Pakistanis - have killed senior militants and upset their operations.


LIverpool Echo : Liverpool street at centre of alleged terrorist plot evacuated

Monday, April 13, 2009

Liverpool street at centre of alleged terrorist plot evacuated

Helen Hunt | April 13, 2009

A LIVERPOOL street at the centre of a terrorist plot was evacuated today.

Resident of Highgate Street, Wavertree, and a few surrounding streets were told to leave their home this afternoon.

People in the area said the order came after police sniffer dogs had been sent into a house that was being searched in the aftermath of the alleged failed Easter bomb plot.

One man said: “The police came knocking on our door and nobody is now being allowed into the street.

“They haven’t said how long we are going to be out for.”

Bomb disposal experts are now at the scene.

The First Post : Bob Quick didn’t know the law, says Davis

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bob Quick didn’t know the law, says Davis

April 13, 2009

Bob Quick, the senior police officer in charge of counter-terrorism who had to resign last week after carelessly allowing Downing Street photographers to picture a top secret document he was carrying into a meeting with the Prime Minister, has been firmly put in his place by David Davis, the former Shadow Home Secretary.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Davis recalled how Quick came to see him about raising the period of detention without charge for terror suspects from 28 to 42 days - something the police and the Government wanted, but which Davis and other Conservatives were firmly against.

Quick was seeking to explain to Davis why 28 days' detention was sometimes not enough time to put together their evidence and how the police could end up releasing a terrorist onto the the streets, thereby endangering the public.

Wrote Davis: "I looked quizzical at this. 'So then you charge him using the threshold test,' I said. This was a piece of law that allowed police to charge suspects, in special circumstances, with a lower level of proof. Police have to have an expectation that they will get enough evidence in the near future.

"I explained this to Quick. 'Oh no, it doesn't work like that,' he said, and as he went on I realised that he simply did not understand the law. My heart sank. The new head of Special Operations... did not know a fundamental piece of law about charging terrorist suspects. And he came to lecture me!"

This was bad enough, Davis went on, but then came the 'Keystone Cops' arrest of Tory MP Damian Green last November for his alleged involvement in the leaking of Home Office documents about immigration.

A new Official Secrets Act in 1989 had removed from criminal law the offence of leaking confidential information if it did not affect national security. So, by arresting Green, Quick "was not enforcing the law, he was inventing new law", wrote Davis.

It was little surprise, concluded Davis, that no one rushed to Quick's defence when he made his blunder in Downing Street last week. "At least he did the honourable thing by resigning."

The National (UAE) : Poor Bungling Bob, the policeman thrown to the lions

Monday, April 13, 2009

Poor Bungling Bob, the policeman thrown to the lions

Michael Simkins | April 13. 2009

If you have a moment this week, please spare a thought for Bob Quick. A mere seven days ago, as Assistant Commissioner (Specialist Operations) with the Metropolitan Police in London, he was the UK’s senior counter-terrorist police officer. But with evidence mounting of an imminent terrorist attack, and a covert police operation to round up suspected participants only hours away, Mr Quick arrived at Downing Street to brief the prime minister: and in the mere act of emerging from his car, 30 years of climbing up the greasy pole of career progress were swept away.

Any Hollywood starlet will tell you that getting out of a stationary vehicle in front of waiting photographers is an operation fraught with difficulty if your most personal details are not be captured for global consumption. But even they couldn’t have imagined the hash of things “Bungling Bob” (as his critics have dubbed him) would make of the manoeuvre.

As he clambered out, the front page of a dossier marked Secret and containing the most sensitive details of Operation Pathway was clearly visible in his hand, and before you could say “smile please” the shutters had clicked. Within minutes newspaper chiefs were warning the government of a security breach with potentially disastrous consequences.

In many ways Mr Quick’s blunder was the sort we all make at work from time to time, and from which we hope to escape with nothing more than a severe ribbing from our colleagues. But counter-terrorism is no laughing matter. In the case of Operation Pathway the implications were severe, necessitating as it did the raid having to be brought forward.

It’s a salutary lesson for all those in the public spotlight nowadays that no detail is safe from the modern camera lens, be it a bead of perspiration, a bobble of cellulite or a stray nasal hair. Pity the poor celebrity who nips out to the shops in anything less than full glamour make-up and designer clothes.

Indeed, only last week the tennis star Maria Sharapova was gleefully pilloried in celebrity magazines after she was photographed in a party dress with a couple of stray threads dangling from the hem. Mr Quick may have blown the cover on a top-secret intelligence operation, but goodness knows the vitriol that would have been heaped upon him had he arrived outside No10 with a loose cufflink. As it was, a mere 24 hours after his schoolboy howler Mr Quick had done the decent thing, and was an ex-commissioner.

The possibility that he might learn from his mistake and subsequently develop into a better officer as a result seems not to have been considered. As in so many facets of life nowadays, something must be done and somebody must be to blame.

If I seem to have an undue amount of sympathy for Bungling Bob’s plight, it’s only because I once committed a similar gaffe myself: although thankfully the implications were less severe. The occasion was a poetry recitation competition at a school last year, at which I had been asked to adjudicate.

Like Mr Quick, my decisions that day were controversial: I had decided to award the first prize (a book token) to the girl with the lisp who had tackled an unfashionable poem by Rudyard Kipling, instead of going for the popular choice, Hilaire Belloc’s Jim. Who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion, performed to much acclaim by the school joker with the spiky hair and the ready smile.

I left my scrawled deliberations on show for only a second while I levered myself out of the knee-crushing desk and chair combo I had been occupying in the centre of the hall, but a second was all it took. Eagle-eyed school kids in the audience read my musings, and by the time I reached the front, news of my imminent announcement had already spread like a virus. Like the embattled Mr Quick, I too was forced into an unseemly scramble to preserve what little surprise element was still left in the event.

The frosty reception in the staff common room afterwards left me in no doubt that questions about my competence were already being asked at the most senior level. Thankfully forgiveness prevailed, and last month I was invited back to judge this year’s contest: sadder, wiser, and with my notes now written in code. Having this time avoided any mishap, I can report operational efficiency fully restored.

So for those who were so keen to condemn Mr Quick and to replace him with an individual who may know how to climb out of a car but who has little direct experience of the murky world of intelligence, the final stanza of Belloc’s award-winning poem on poor Jim’s demise at the hands of the lion is worth quoting: “And always keep ahold of Nurse, for fear of finding something worse.”

Michael Simkins is an actor and author based in London

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.

Liverpool Echo : Liverpool John Moores University students may have been arrested, claim families

Monday, April 13, 2009

Liverpool John Moores University students may have been arrested, claim families

by Luke Traynor, Liverpool Echo | April 13, 2009

RELATIVES of two Pakistani men today said they believe they are among 11 suspects in custody following raids across addresses in Liverpool, Manchester and Lancashire.

The families of Abdul Wahab Khan and Mohammed Ramzan, who live in the town of Dera Ismail Khan, in north west Pakistan, said the two lived together and studied at Liverpool John Moores university.

The relatives said they had been unable to reach them since last week’s swoops.

Searches continued at flats on Highgate Street, Edge Hill, Earle Road in Edge Hill and Cedar Grove in Toxteth this weekend.

On Saturday, a teenager, 18, who was detained over an alleged terror bomb plot in north-west England was released into UK Border Agency custody.

It is understood that the 18-year-old will now be deported. The remaining suspects – aged 22 to 41 – are being held at locations across the country, including four in the West Midlands.

Officers were granted a further week to question them.

It has been reported that search teams have found images of Manchester shopping centres.

Daily Mail : Bomb disposal squad called in to site at centre of Liverpool terror arrests

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bomb disposal squad called in to site at centre of Liverpool terror arrests

By Charlotte Gill and Jaya Narain | April 13, 2009

Army bomb disposal experts have been called in by counter-terrorism officers investigating the suspected terror plot which saw 12 men arrested last week.

An area around Highgate Street in the Wavertree area of Liverpool was cordoned off as a precaution and a number of homes nearby were evacuated.

A spokeswoman for Greater Manchester Police stressed no dangerous device had been found but experts were brought in to help with the search of the property, which is continuing.

'At this stage the experts have been called in as a precaution.

'Cordons have been set up and a small number of homes evacuated.

'Officers are working to ensure this is resolved with minimum disruption to local people and appreciate the community's cooperation and understanding.'

Meanwhile sources said a number of the suspects arrested last week could be deported rather than charged due to lack of evidence against them.

The Pakistani men, most of them on British student visas, will be thrown out for breaching the terms of their entry if the police cannot find enough material to try them in court.

It is understood that the UK has already begun seeking assurances that the men would not face torture if they were sent back to Pakistan.

Deportations rather than charges would be humiliating for the police and M15 and embarrassing for Gordon Brown who said that arrests involved a 'very big terrorist' plot and criticised Pakistan for not doing more to tackle Islamist terrorism.

Extensive searches of properties have so far not believed to have led to the discovery of any bomb-making equipment or materials.

Yesterday police at one property in Manchester were seen removing sachets of sugar - sometimes used as a component in homemade explosives.

Police remain hopeful that information coming out of Pakistan coupled with emails, computer data and forensics found in the searched premises will lead to some charges.

Sources have said that the raids were brought forward after intelligence suggested that the group could strike as early as the Easter holiday.

Surveillance officers reported seeing some of the men filming buildings including the Trafford Centre, the Arndale Centre and the Birdcage nightclub in Manchester.

The terror raids in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside were planned for last week but had to be rushed by 12 hours after police anti-terror chief Bob Quick was photographed holding a secret document detailing the targets.

The blunder led him to resign the following day.

Twelve men - 11 Pakistani nationals and a UK-born Briton - were arrested. One, an 18-year-old Pakistani man, has since been released and is in the custody of immigration officials.

The family of a man studying at Liverpool John Moores University said they believed that their son had been arrested and appealed for his release.

Relatives of Mohammad Ramzan, from Dera Ismail Khan in north west Pakistan, said they had been unable to contact him since last week.

His father Haji Hazrat Ali said the 25-year-old travelled to Britain in 2006 and was studying for an MBA.

He said: 'He is a very humble, gentle boy and always concentrates on his studies. I firmly believe he simply cannot be involved in any negative activity.'

The family of Abdul Wahab Khan, 26, who lived with Ramzan while they studied at the university, have also voiced concern that their he may be among those arrested.

Khan's older brother, Gulzar Jan, said he came to Britain in 2006 and was studying for a master's degree in IT.

He said: 'My brother is for sure innocent. He doesn't deserve the treatment he might be getting in custody in the UK.'

Relatives of the two men said deportation would be a 'great disgrace'.

Nasrullah Jan Khattak, the father of Abid Naseer who was named as a suspect, said: 'Ours is a religious-minded family but this doesn’t mean that my son is part of a terrorist cell.'

He said Naseer went to England two years ago to study IT at a university in Manchester. His student visa was due to expire in September.

Details of a third man said to be one of those arrested also emerged.

Janas Khan, 25, is a student at Hope University in Liverpool and was working as security guard at Homebase in Clitheroe, Lancashire along with another terror suspect.

He is thought to have stayed at a flat in Liverpool owned by an suspected terror financier, Mohammed Benhammedi, who is alleged to have raise funds for the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which is associated with al Qaeda.

Officers have been granted a further week to detain the 11, who range in age from 22 to 41 and are being held in various locations across the country. They can be questioned for a maximum of 28 days before they have to be charged or released.

Net News Daily : Pakistan Asks UK for Names of Terror Suspects

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pakistan Asks UK for Names of Terror Suspects

by Nathan Adam | April 13, 2009

The Pakistan government has today called for the UK Government to share names and addresses of the 11 suspects detained by the UK over last week’s terror alert, which prompted teams to swoop in and arrest the suspects. It was uncovered that the suspects in fact had plans of shopping centres and other communal locations. They have asked for the details amid speculation that the Britain are going to deport the suspects.

The government told the Financial Times that they promise to respect the rights of any Pakistani’s that were caught in the group.

The comments by the government come after it was released that the detainees might be deported rather than put on trial.

This call from the Pakistani government is just another sign that ties between the British and the Pakistani governments are getting better as the new government in Pakistan promised.

Guardian : Terror suspect's father says Islamophobia to blame for son's arrest

Monday, April 13, 2009

Terror suspect's father says Islamophobia to blame for son's arrest

• Student was held in terror raid 'because of his faith'
• Property searches scaled back as another man freed

Declan Walsh in Islamabad and Martin Wainwright | April 13, 2009

The father of a Pakistani computer science student detained under anti-terrorism laws has come forward to defend his son, calling him victim of anti-Muslim discrimination.

"This is all about his prayers and his beard. I am his father and I know him. He is not involved in any mysterious plot," the man, whose son was one of 11 Pakistani students picked up in raids across the north-western England last week, told the Guardian in an interview in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, one of the 12 men arrested in the raids was released by police but handed over to the UK Border Agency as a probable preliminary step to deportation. Searches of properties in Manchester and Liverpool were scaled down yesterday, as police were given a further seven days by magistrates to continue questioning the other men detained. They are understood to range in age from 22 to 41 and to be in the UK on student visas.

But the father of one said yesterday his son was a cricket-loving, religious-minded young man from a good family who was only interested in his studies. Before making arrests MI5 surveillance teams monitored his email and observed several suspects photographing shopping areas and a nightclub in Manchester.

The man's father said by phone from Peshawar: "We have done nothing wrong. We have nothing to hide."

Since learning of the arrests in Urdu newspapers last Friday, the suspect's father said there had been some serious reporting errors. For one, he said, his family came from Karak district in the south of the North West Frontier Province, not the tribal areas, where Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud holds sway, as has been reported. "This is a great offence," the man said. "We are from an old district, with educated people. Not the tribal belt." His son was in his third year of computer studies in Manchester and his visa was valid until next September. The last time he saw him was during the Eid ul-Fitr holiday last autumn. "He appreciated the UK system, especially the freedom and facilities [it offered]. He was satisfied there - he could go to the mosque and he could study," the man said.

Unusually, many of those arrested last week were Pashtuns from North-West Frontier Province, and appear to come from well-to-do families. The relatives of two other detainees gave a press conference in the city of Dera Ismail Khan, at the southern tip of the province.

Meanwhile, the uncle of another suspect, speaking in an emotional voice by phone, told the Guardian that he and other relatives had regularly sent their nephew sums from £800 to £3,000 to help pay for his studies.

"He was too ambitious about his life and his studies. He was not up to any mischief. So I say to the UK government, please don't spoil his future," he said.

Rahimullah Yusufzai, a veteran Pakistani journalist, said: "Maybe some careless conversation or act has landed them in trouble. A few of them may be involved in this case, but I don't think it's a real terrorist plot."

In Islamabad, a Pakistani intelligence official said that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency had no involvement in the case prior to last week's raids.

He dismissed reports linking the arrests to Rashid Rauf, a British-Pakistani implicated in a previous alleged plot and believed to have died in an American drone strike.

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim youth organisation in Manchester, appealed for the local community to stay calm yesterday.

Dawn : Held Pakistanis were already identified as terror suspects

Monday, April 13, 2009

Held Pakistanis were already identified as terror suspects

April 13, 2009

After the suspects had been identified in Pakistan, it would have been easier for them to be tracked through the student visa system. —AP

LONDON: Now it turns out that the Pakistanis arrested on Wednesday on the suspicion of being terrorist plotters were actually identified as possible terrorists even before they left Pakistan.

The Independent on Sunday quoted security sources as saying that a number of those being held were identified as possible terrorist plotters by intelligence agencies before they left Pakistan, and were ‘allowed to run’ to Britain through the student visa system, where they were tracked for several months.

A security source said the suspects had been watched since before January. One was allowed to enter Britain last week, even though there were irregularities in his paperwork. The man was told to return at a later date for an immigration appointment. However, since they were taken into custody in a rush there is a sense within the security services that now there may not be enough evidence amassed to build a case against them.

‘And it may now take more than seven days for the investigators to reach their logical conclusions,’ informed sources said.

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas last week denied that security checks for foreign students were inadequate, rejecting claims that the UK would not cooperate with Pakistani authorities over background checks on applicants for visas.

In fact, after the suspects had been identified in Pakistan, it would have been easier for them to be tracked through the student visa system, which would record their movements into Britain, rather than allow them to turn up in the country through other means and become lost in the system.

Raids were carried out in broad daylight on Wednesday afternoon after anti-terrorist chief Bob Quick allowed a secret document with details of the operation to be in full view of photographers as he left No 10, when he arrived for a briefing with Gordon Brown. He resigned from the force the next day.

Officials, scrambling to avoid a major row, immediately let it be known that the arrests had been planned for 2am Thursday morning, meaning the operation had been brought forward by a matter of a few hours. Yet security sources have told the newspaper that the Thursday raid was ‘only one option’ and in fact the planned raid was possibly ‘several weeks’ away.

Although Quick resigned on Thursday morning as assistant commissioner, an intelligence source said he was already ‘out of his depth’ on terrorism issues and it had been only a matter of time before he was replaced. Assistant Commissioner John Yates has taken over the role.

The current anti-terrorism mission, known as Operation Pathway, is being compared to Operation Crevice, which broke up a plot to blow up nightclubs with huge fertiliser bombs. In that case, intelligence officers waited until suspects obtained the fertiliser before carrying out raids. ‘It is probable that they (the suspected plotters in the latest investigation) were at the stage of only looking to source material,’ one source said of the current operation.

Mirror : Police expect more arrests over Easter bomb plot

Monday, April 13, 2009

Police expect more arrests over Easter bomb plot

April 13, 2009

Anti-terror police probing an alleged Easter bomb plot expect to make more arrests within days.

And they have been given another week to quiz the 11 men in custody over an alleged al-Qaeda backed plan to blow up a busy city centre.

Despite extensive searches police have found no bomb-making equipment at homes they raided across the North West last Wednesday.

But a source said: "It is likely there will be further arrests."

Police held 12 men, 11 Pakistanis and a Briton. One was released into the care of immigration officials.

The raids were brought forward after Met Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick was pictured going into Number 10 with the details..