NewsMax : Arrest of Pakistani Students in Britain Angers Families

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Arrest of Pakistani Students in Britain Angers Families

By Kaswar Klasra | April 16, 2009

PESHAWAR -- Wednesday was supposed to be a happy time for the family of Abid Naseer. His parents had made elaborate plans for the young man’s 23rd birthday party, right down to the gourmet chocolate cake from a well known neighborhood bakery.

Instead, the occasion was “a day full of sorrow,” according to Naseer’s family. Before he could return to Peshawar for a birthday vacation, the university student was among 12 men arrested in Great Britain last week on charges of planning terrorist attacks there. Ten of those arrested were, like Naseer, Pakistanis who entered Britain on student visas.

All but one of the men is still being held and interrogated, sources say.

The arrests have sparked outrage in Pakistan, where government officials have issued a formal complaint against British law enforcement for refusing to reveal the suspects’ identities or grant Pakistani diplomats consular access to the men. Pakistan’s High Commissioner in London, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, accused British officials not of leaking details of the allegations against the men, but of failing to hand over the evidence against them, according to a report in the Daily Mail.

The diplomatic fireworks are little consolation to Naseer’s, father Nusrullah Khattak. With tears in his eyes, he insists his son is an innocent youth who went to the U.K. seeking an education in information technology at a college in Manchester.

“It is unjust to arrest Naseer, whose only sin was that he was a Pakistani Muslim with a long beard who prays regularly,” Khattak tells Newsmax. “Naseer was never associated with any religious organization. He never met any religious scholar, and I am sure he was nothing to do with terrorism.”

Khattak tells Newsmax the only details he’s received about his son’s arrest and incarceration have come through media reports. “I kept calling him on his cell phone, however I got no response,” the distraught father adds.

The arrests have caused a bit of a sensation in Britain as well. The raids were carried out in broad daylight after the government’s top anti-terror police officer, assistant commissioner Bob Quick, was photographed carrying clearly legible details of the operation.

He has since resigned over the blunder, according to an AFP report.

The father of six concedes that there are Pakistanis involved in terrorist activities in the U.K. But Khattak urged British authorities focus on eliminating the root causes of terrorism activities and not punish innocent foreign students.

“You cannot imagine the pain of this unfortunate family whose loved one is in illegal detention thousands miles away from home,” Khattak says while dabbing at tears with tissue.

“Britain claims to be a role model state, however, by arresting an innocent student Britain has exposed itself,” he adds, “It is not fair to arrest innocent people whose only sin is that they are Muslims and love their Islamic traditions.”

© 2009 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Guardian : Specialist protest squads at centre of investigations into G20 police violence

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Specialist protest squads at centre of investigations into G20 police violence

Police territorial support teams, used at demonstrations and marches, involved in previous controversy

Sandra Laville, crime correspondent | April 16, 2009

Officers from the Metropolitan police's specialist territorial support teams are at the centre of investigations over the use of unprovoked violence during the G20 protests.

Both of the officers who have been suspended in the last week were part of the force's territorial support group (TSG), a unit of 720 officers who operate in mobile squads to combat serious public disorder, work with other officers to tackle high-volume crime, provide the expertise to force entry into buildings, and carry out anti-terrorist arrests and stop and searches.

As the Independent Police Complaints Commission began an independent investigation into a TSG sergeant seen on the most recent video using his gloved hand to hit a female member of the public, the Met chief, Sir Paul Stephenson, announced that he had asked Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary to review public order policing tactics in the light of the G20. He also ordered a review of all footage held by the police in order to establish whether any other officers should be subject to investigation.

Privately, Stephenson has in the last two days sent all his officers a morale-boosting video message saying that they should continue their good work. He labels Ian Tomlinson's death a "tragedy" and notes that while the controversy goes on into the policing of G20, a Metropolitan police officer injured last weekend in a separate incident still lies in hospital fighting for his life.

While trying to allay public concern over the G20 policing, Stephenson in his private message was addressing frustration within the Met rank and file that the policing of one demonstration, out of hundreds, has so spectacularly backfired.

Some rank and file officers, particularly those experienced in public order policing, said that the latest video footage of the TSG sergeant striking a woman was being viewed out of context.

At least one public order officer pointed out that striking someone with the back of a forearm or hand was a defensive tactic all officers in those circumstances are taught to use. TSG officers are trained to the highest levels in public order, and as such attract higher levels of complaints than other officers because they are dealing with fraught, tense, difficult situations, according to a police source.

But the TSG has been involved in serious controversy in the past. A judge said last month that six TSG officers had carried out a "serious, gratuitous and prolonged" attack on a terrorism suspect, Babar Ahmed, six years ago. The team of six officers involved in the attack on Ahmed, who was arrested at his home by the TSG unit, had already been at the centre of as many as 60 complaints about unwarranted assaults on black or Asian men, the Guardian has revealed.

None of the officers involved in the assault on Ahmed has been disciplined and five of them are still working in the territorial support group. The Met said at the time that the complaints were investigated and found to be unsubstantiated.

According to The Job, the force's in-house magazine, TSG officers - who can be identified by a "U" on shoulder epaulette numbers - are better known as the "tough guys and girls" of the Met.

When policing events in which disorder is foreseen, they are issued with "Nato" helmets, flame-retardant overalls, stab vests, gloves, balaclavas and boots. All carry the standard batons, pepper spray and cuffs, but are also authorised to use tasers, and firearm-trained TSG officers carry pistols or submachine guns.

TSG officers operate in units of three Mercedes vanloads, each of which comprise six constables and a sergeant.

On the day of the G20 protest their role would have been defined by the main "gold" commanders who drew up the policing operation and stated in the days before G20 that the Met were "up for it". On-the-ground decisions in what was a fluid fast-moving situation would have been made by "bronze" commanders.

The TSG was created in 1987 after the controversy over its predecessor, the special patrol group, which received a number of complaints of police brutality. These complaints culminated in the death of schoolteacher Blair Peach, who was fatally injured in April 1979 during a demonstration in Southall, west London, by the Anti-Nazi League against a National Front march.