Telegraph : Pakistani men 'part of al-Qaeda network planning attacks in Britain'

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pakistani men 'part of al-Qaeda network planning attacks in Britain'

By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent | May 13, 2009

Ten Pakistani men released without charge after an investigation into an alleged plot to bomb shopping centres in Manchester were part of an al-Qaeda network planning attacks in Britain and should be deported, a tribunal has heard.

The men were arrested on April 8 after former Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick entered Downing Street with details of the operation against the men visible under his arm.

None of the men were charged with any crime but the government launched an attempt to have the men deported. ?THIS OK? [sic!]

Their lawyers are objecting to the deportation orders, arguing that they should be freed to continue their studies.

Robin Tam QC for the Home Secretary told the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in London: "All the applicants were members of a UK based network linked to al-Qaeda involved in attack planning.

"Each therefore poses a risk to national security and deportation would be considered in the national good."

Mr Tam said there was a "high risk they would re-engage in their former activity to the detriment of national security" and there was a risk they would abscond if granted bail.

All the group were "young single men with no close family ties to the UK and each claims to have been a student", Mr Tam added.

Three of the men, Abdul Wahab Khan, Shoaib Khan and Tariq ur-Rehman, waived their rights to anonymity at the hearing.

The SIAC panel considered evidence behind closed doors before refusing bail for the three named men, along with a fourth, "XC."

Sibghat Kadri QC for Abdul Wahab Khan, 26, said the Pakistani High Commissioner in London had claimed the operation against the men was a "hoax" and added: "Other than what he was told upon arrest, that he was suspected to be a terrorist, he has never been informed of the substance of any allegations against him.

"During various interviews he was subjected to intensive interrogation. He was asked mostly about his association with friends, going to the mosque, meeting various friends and taking photographs."

He added that despite the police seizing computers, a TV and clothing which were subjected to forensic examination, "not a shred of evidence was found."

He added: "This case does not involve the liberty of the applicant but the wider question of trust that the community can repose in the security services in a multi-racial society and the subsequent faith in the Secretary of State to make a decision based on justice rather than fear of political failure."

Dawn : Al Qaeda trying to establish links with jihadi groups

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Al Qaeda trying to establish links with jihadi groups

By Our Special Correspondent | May 13, 2009

LONDON: Al Qaeda is trying to establish links inside Pakistan with jihadi groups, rather than Taliban, to exploit the current instability in the country and also to relieve some of the pressure that has been put on them by continuing strikes by the US drones, says The Guardian correspondent Jason Burke in a report (Al Qaeda’s push into Pakistan) on Tuesday.

Quoting sources inside intelligence agencies but without naming them he said that the group led by several dozen senior militants from Central Asia had already set up links with Lashkar-i-Taiba and was now probing others like Jaish-i-Mohammad, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen Islami and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.

For international militants, he said, Pakistan had a particular significance as the birthplace of the new wave of modern Islamic militancy in the 1980s during the war against the Soviets.

‘The battle against Pakistan’s secular elected government – and thus indirectly against its western backers – is being cast as the continuation of the successful struggle against the Soviets,’ he added.

According to Mr Burke, the militants have little chance of actually taking power as Islamists remain on the fringe in Pakistan, ‘and the Pakistani Taliban are a fringe of that fringe’.

‘But inserting themselves onto the home-grown campaign of local jihadis can boost al Qaeda’s flagging jihadi credentials after the failure to create a new base in Iraq or to repeat a 9/11-scale spectacular. It might also provide some breathing space for regrouping and rethinking: planning for a major strike in the West continues.’

In the meantime, according to Mr Burke, al Qaeda strategists see no harm in getting involved in someone else’s local war. ‘After all, it has worked for them before.’ As for al Qaeda contacts with the Pakistani Taliban itself, Mr Burke says quoting sources in Islamabad and Kabul, these are personal rather than organisational, much as many would like to paint the latter organisation as an offshoot of the former.

‘During recent fighting in Bajaur, senior Pakistani officers repeatedly insisted that the local villagers had been led astray by shadowy international militants,’ the correspondent said.

He said there were indeed a few senior figures moving through Bajaur but the main dynamics behind the fighting had little to do with al Qaeda and a lot to do with disintegration of local tribal social hierarchies and values in recent decades, the radicalising effect of western operations in Afghanistan, generalised mobilisation in much of the Islamic world, collateral damage resulting from US drone strikes and a very local dynamic pitting one valley and one tribe against another.

He said the prisoners that he interviewed confirmed that the conflict was essentially a local one, though sometimes framed by participants within a global narrative.

‘The Mohmands, more commercially minded, more radical, more mobile and with a history of militancy and criminal involvement, were never likely to be on the same side as the Salarzai, their more agricultural, more stable, more sedentary and government loyal neighbours. Similar local dynamics are the determining factors behind the violence in Swat as much as new radicalism, new opportunities for young men denied status, authority and employment and of course radical propaganda.’

‘So, as they have done elsewhere for a decade or more, al Qaeda’s leadership are trying to exploit this and to graft their international campaign aimed at sapping regimes in their home countries — including Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Maghreb — onto local campaigns, through striking at the west and its allies.’

‘The same thing happened in Iraq, leading to an intensity of violence in 2006 and 2007 which few had predicted. The end only came for al Qaeda’s Iraq adventure when Iraqis themselves sickened of the atrocities perpetrated by outsiders coming into their country — just as young foreign militants are reported to be moving to Pakistan — and turned against them. Agencies have tracked the movement of active extremist fighters from Iraq to the new theatre: AfPak.’

Times : Ten arrested in anti-terrorism raids 'linked to al-Qaeda planning'

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ten arrested in anti-terrorism raids 'linked to al-Qaeda planning'

Fran Yeoman | May 13, 2009

The men arrested during anti-terror raids across the North West last month included members of a British-based network linked to al-Qaeda attack planning, an immigration hearing was told yesterday.

All 12 of those who were detained in Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Lancashire over a suspected bomb plot were released without charge.

The Home Office, however, is seeking to deport ten of them, all Pakistani nationals who are currently in immigration custody, on the ground that they pose a risk to national security.

Robin Tam, QC, representing the Home Secretary, said that there was a “high risk that they would re-engage in their former activities” if the men were released.

The ten are appealing against that decision. Four appeared before a Special Immigrations Appeals Commission hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice yesterday, at which their lawyers applied unsuccessfully for bail and claimed that despite an extensive police investigation there was no evidence that the men were involved in extremism.

The arrests, on April 8, were brought forward after Bob Quick, the Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner and Britain’s most senior anti-terrorism officer, revealed details of the operation by accident.

Stephanie Harrison, representing one of the men, who can be identified only as XC, told the commission that given the high profile of the arrests and the events before them “one cannot exclude political expediency as a factor” in the decision to deport the men rather than simply release them.

“Not a single piece of actual physical evidence has been produced” against her client, she said.

Sibghat Kadri QC, representing Abdul Wahab Khan, 26, said that he was a “genuine student” who is was in Britain with the sole purpose of obtaining a Masters degree. He said that during lengthy police interviews his client was never told of “the substance of any allegations against him”.

Mr Kadri said that Mr Khgan's arrest by the UK Border Agency immediately after he was released without charge by the police was causing a great deal of concern and unrest among both the Muslim community in the United Kingdom and the wider international community. He said: “Any miscarriage of justice will cause irreparable damage to race relations and consequently to the national security of the United Kingdom.”

Thaindian News : Arrested Pak students’ part Al-Qaeda network, claims British official

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Arrested Pak students’ part Al-Qaeda network, claims British official

by ANI | May 13, 2009

London, May 13 (ANI): All the 10 Pakistani students who were arrested last month from different parts of London on suspicion of plotting bomb attack across Britain were actually part of Al-Qaeda’s network, a British official has claimed.

Robin Tam QC for the Home Secretary told the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in London that all the so-called students, who were arrested, had links with Al-Qaeda.

“All the applicants were members of a UK based network linked to al-Qaeda involved in attack planning,” Tam said.

He urged the commission to allow the officials to deport the suspects, as they pose a risk to the national security.

“Each therefore poses a risk to national security and deportation would be considered in the national good,” The Telegraph quoted Tam, as saying.

He also objected the idea of granting them bail, saying they could once again start their nefarious activities.

“There is a high risk that they would re-engage in their former activity to the detriment of national security,” he said.

Meanwhile, a court has rejected the bail applications of four Pakistani students currently detained at Manchester prison for deportation on national security grounds.

The Lawyer of the students, Sibghat Ullah Qadri argued that chief constable of Greater Manchester police Peter Fahy himself had said in a press statement that the students are innocent until proven guilty and free to walk away.

However, the court rejected his claims. (ANI)