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Archived 31st July 2005

An inventory of Justice Undone

The regime of stop and searches arrests, sweeps and raids sanctioned by the Terrorism laws - the Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT) and the Anti-Terrorism, Crime & Security Act 2001 (ACTSA) – is degenerating into a cruel farce. The inventory of arrests and the judicial outcome highlights the tendentious and arbitrary nature of this regime: those caught up include hapless individuals with mental health problems, petty criminals and visa dodgers, and the young Asian or white Muslim revert who fits the profile – prays at a so-called ‘Wahabi mosque’, visits Internet sites dealing with Muslim causes such as Chechnya, wears the traditional dress. As of 6th April 2005, more than 700 have been arrested since 9/11 using the powers conferred to Police through anti-terrorist legislation; of these 120 have been charged, leading to 17 convictions; of the 700 arrests, 135 convictions are unrelated to terrorism, such as immigration and credit card offences. The 17 convictions under anti-terrorism legislation include 7 Irish, and also Kurdish and other groups; the number of Muslims is 3 - of whom some have been given leave of appeal. In a number of cases details of the convictions are not in the public domain. However it is believed that for some, arrainment has been made solely on membership of, or association with, bodies proscibed as 'international terrorist organisations' by the Home Office (for list see

"We have lost our way in this country. We have entered a new dark age of injustice and it is frightening that we are overwhelmed by it. I know I am representing innocent people; innocent people who know that a jury they face will inevitably be predisposed to find them guilty".

Gareth Peirce, leading Civil Liberties lawyer, speaking at the Muslim News Awards Ceremony, March 2004

The inventory draws on media reports, an important study Harmit Awal published by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) and analyses on the Salaam Portal’s ‘Secret State’ section. Links are provided to media coverage where possible. There is a tremendous disparity between the media coverage at time of arrest, compared with the obscure references when the individuals are subsequently released. more...


The normal presumption is that a person is innocent unless proven guilty. There should be a trial in a civilian court at which evidence of guilt must be produced to satisfy a judge or jury. Unfortunately since the tragedy of September 11 2001, many Muslims living in Europe and North America have been locked away in prison, without charges being presented and without a date for their trial. At least three young British men are detained at Guantanamo Bay by the US Military because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Scores of men and women are incarcerated in British prisons such as Belmarsh, not knowing what evidence is against them, with the choice of either putting up, or facing extradition.

A report from FAIR - the Forum against Islamophobia & Racism - published in 2003 - notes that "Many from the Muslim communities in Britain have been suggesting that since September 11 2001, all matters connected either directly or indirectly to Muslims has evolved into a situation where the authorities respond by defining any issue connected to Muslims as being a criminal. 'law and order' problem".

In a fair-minded society, everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. British Muslims unfortunately have grounds to believe that this standard is not being extended to all sections of society: a climate of fear is being stoked against Muslims. There must be a balance between the powers given to ensure state security with civil liberties - but this is teetering towards one extreme. These are difficult times that call for sobriety and maturity.

"As British Muslims we have the right and duty to use wise counsel and all our powers of argument and persuasion to impress our government the duty to uphold the rule of law and follow ethical policies at home and abroad. As citizens of Britain, we have a social contract to maintain the peace and stability of this country. No one must be tempted to commit any criminal or subversive activity".

Source: From the newsletter of The Muslim Council of Britain, Issue 4, November 2001

The Muslim community must not forget those who have been locked away unlawfully or unjustly. They should support those community bodies and other civil rights organisations such as Liberty and Amnesty International seeking to redress any wrongs done.

• Guantanamo Bay Detainees
• UK Detainees
• Unfairness in the Criminal Justice system


  • Guantanamo Bay Detainees

Tariq Mahmood
Tariq Mahmood, a 30-year-old father-of-two from Birmingham, visiting Pakistan in connection with a family land matter, is believed to have been arrested by Pakistani authorities in Islamabad and bundled to Guantanamo Bay. His wife and children are in Sparkhill.


Feroz Abassi
Returned to Britain 25 Jan 2005
Abassi, 23, who was captured by American forces in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan, in December 2001, was born in Uganda and came to Britain at the age of eight. Qasim Ahmed, Imam of Croydon mosque, remembers Abassi attending Friday prayers on a number of occasions. His mother maintains that Feroz later went to in Afghanistan as he wanted to live in a place with few distractions.


Moazzam Begg
Returned to Britain 25 Jan 2005
In June 2001, Moazzam Begg, aged 35, left his home in Birmingham and moved his wife and four young children to a new life in Afghanistan. In December 2001 Begg told his relatives that he was moving his family back to Pakistan as the situation in Afghanistan was becoming "unbearable". The American authorities allege he was involved with al-Qaida. Begg's family and campaigners say that when he was arrested and bundled into a car boot by Pakistani police and FBI agents in Pakistan in February 2002, it was a case of mistaken identity.


Shafiq Rasul
Returned to Britain 9th March 2004
Shafiq Rasul, a 25 year old law student from Tipton, West Midlands, travelled to Pakistan in October 2001, for a computer course. Shortly after, he went to Afghanistan, where he was captured by US forces.


Asif Iqbal
Returned to Britain 9th March 2004
Asif Iqbal, 21, also came from Tipton, and studied alongside Shafiq Rasul as a child. He was captured by US special forces in Afghanistan.


Rahul Ahmed
Returned to Britain 9th March 2004
Rahul Ahmed, 20, from Tipton, West Midlands, left for Pakistan in 2001 with Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal. He was held by American forces in Kandahar, in Afghanistan, before being sent to Cuba


Martin Mubanga
Returned to Britain 25 Jan 2005
Martin Mubanga, 29, form Wembley, North-West London, was born in Zambia, and came to Britain in the 1970s. He has a dual British and Zambian nationality. After returning from a trip to Afghanistan, he was captured and held in Zambia, after which the local authorities placed him in the custody of the Americans.


Jamal Udeen
Returned to Britain 9th March 2004
Jamal Udeen, a 35 year old web designer from Manchester, was held as a prisoner in Kandahar, Afghanistan, for some time. He was then moved to Cuba in February 2002, and placed in detention there.


Richard Belmar
Returned to Britain 25 Jan 2005

Richard Belmar, a 23 year-old from London, converted to Islam and then travelled to Pakistan in 2001, before the attacks of 11 September. He was captured and held by the Pakistani authorities, before being moved to Cuba.


Tarek Dergoul
Returned to Britain 9th March 2004
Tarek Dergoul, 24, used to live in East London. He is believed to have been arrested in Afghanistan.


Jamal Abdullah
Jamal Abdullah, 24, was born to a Roman Catholic family and converted to Islam while a student. His mother alleges she was told by Foreign Office officials that her son had been questioned by Britain's secret service while in Guantanamo Bay. It is reported that the Foreign Office is refusing to help Jamal because he does not hold a British passport, though his mother is a British citizen. His lawyer, Louise Christian, has said that "Britain has a moral obligation to help him, he's been here since the age of 14."


Click here for more about Guantanamo Bay

  • UK Detainees

The effect of hastily passed laws to address the threat of terrorist attacks has been largely felt by the poor immigrant sections of society. The exact number of Muslims without British citizenship held in British high-security prisons without trial under the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001 is not known - it is believed to be sixteen - but the few charges that have been made relate mainly to immigration offences.

The 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act allows the Government to hold a non-UK national in prison indefinitely without charge and trial, and without the requirement for the accused to hear all the evidence against them. To bring in these internment powers, Britain had to opt out of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights, "the right to liberty and security" which bans detention without trial. The Home Secretary need only prove that there are "reasonable grounds to suspect" an individual has links with terrorism, a far lower requirement than the standard of proof needed to gain a conviction in a criminal or civil court. The only right of appeal is to judges of the Special Immigration Appeal Commission (SIAC). One such hearing took place in October 2003, in which 5 persons held without trial for two years were represented by human rights solicitor Gareth Pierce. The rulings were in favour of the Government:

Security has been chosen over due process and is a dangerous precedent for the future. Their...continuing detention marks the entry of this country into a new dark age of injustice.
30th October 2003, The Independent

Amnesty International claims that some of the material presented at the SIAC hearing was from statements from people held at Bagram airbase, Afghanistan, and Guantaamo Bay, where torture has been alleged. Its spokesperson noted, "It would seriously undermine the rule of law if SIAC relied on evidence extracted under torture".

An MI5 expert in terrorism has admitted that the security service would use information extracted from tortured prisoners as evidence. The secret witness told a panel of judges that in spite of knowing that a victim had been tortured or had come from a country where the regime sactioned torture, she would still consider their testimony to be relevant to security service investigations.
22nd July 2003, The Guardian

The fourteen detainees, effectively thrown into a twenty-first century dungeon, are almost entirely of Egyptian, Tunisian and Algerian origin. They face repressive regimes in their homeland, and miscarriages of justice in their place of exile.

"On December 19, 2001, 8 men (all Muslims) were detained under the new Act. A further 7 have since been arrested (also all Muslims) making a total of 15. Under this legislation no interviews take place upon arrest, in fact technically, there is no arrest as an arrest under Criminal Legislation would provide a person with rights. People held under this legislation have no such rights. They are taken straight to high security prisons without being questioned or interviewed, without being charged and without having any idea of the basis of the allegations against them.
Those presently detained are being held in conditions which are inhuman and degrading. They are kept in solitary cells and locked up for up to 22 hours a day. They are strip searched before and after all visits whether they be legal or social. Amnesty International has said that the conditions of detention amount to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” and that “their continued detention without trial or charge for an unspecified and potentially unlimited period... may lead to a further deterioration of their physical and mental health.”

Natalia Garcia, a solicitor at Tyndallwoods Solicitors in Birmingham, specialising in Human Rights and Terrorism related cases, writing in The Muslim News, Issue 171, Friday 25 July 2003

Amnesty International, in a report released on 11 December 2003 notes that a "shadow" criminal justice system had been created for foreign nationals living in the UK as a result of the 2001 Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act. Of the fourteen detainees, six will face their second anniversary in high security prisons on 19 December 2003.

"Guantanamo Bay in our own backyard"

"The act is discriminatory - there is one set of rules for British citizens and another for nationals of other countries. It effectively allows non-nationals to be treated as if they have been charged with a criminal offence, convicted without a trial and sentenced to an open-ended term of imprisonment. In no respect can this be considered just.
This legislation has created a Guantanamo Bay in our own backyard.... These individuals face indefinite detention on the basis of a lower standard of proof than would be necessary in a civil court case to recover damages following a car accident....What is more, they can be held indefinitely on the basis of secret 'evidence'. Evidence that neither they nor their legal representatives can access or challenge."

Statement by Kate Allen of Amnesty International, 11 December 2003


Unfairness in the Criminal Justice system

In the aftermath of the Bradford disturbances of July 2001, the perpetrators were dealt with uncharacteristic harshness by the presiding judges.

"Only Margaret Eaton, a senior member of Bradford Council has explicitly suggested that such collusion has been apparent and that ensuing consequences have been politically driven. As she stated, "they [the sentences] were pased by the judiciary because the Prime Minister and Home Secretary David Blunkett had set a clear framework for sentencing".

The Bradford Disturbances, the Sentencing and the Impact, published by FAIR, 2003


Mohammed Ali Zaman Mohammed Ali Zaman, 26, received a sentence of two-and-a-half years for riot after being filmed throwing two or three stones at the police. Mohammed also tried to usher youngsters off the streets and protect cars parked outside a garage from being attacked.
Mudasar Khan Mudasar Khan, 21, went to the aid of a white shopkeeper and a pregnant woman who found themselves caught up in the riots and, with friends, protected their shop. In spite of this, he received a one-year sentence for violent disorder because he was filmed throwing a stone.
Mohammed Arif Mohammed Arif, 26, has been sentenced to five years and three months for riot. He has two children and no previous convictions and alleges that he was provoked into throwing bricks after a police officer kicked him in the groin.
Mohammaed Akram Mohammaed Akram, 23 was filmed throwing numerous missiles at the police and was amongst a crowd advancing towards the police. He received a sentence of five years.
Mohammed Munir Mohammed Munir, 21 years old was filmed throwing two stones at police in riot gear and received a sentence of four years and nine months.
Asam Latif Asam Latif, 33, received a sentence of four years and nine months for riot - he threw six stones at police. Asam is the father of four children.
Kamran Ali Kamran Ali, 20 years old and employed by the Inland Revenue was sentenced to four and a half years after admitting guilty of rioting offences. He was filmed throwing ten stones at police in riot gear.
Ashraf Hussain Ashraf Hussain, 30, received a four-year sentence for riot after the court saw video evidence of him throwing two or three stones. Ashraf, who has three children, has psychological problems, which mean that he is easily persuadable - a psychologist gave evidence that he was of abnormally low intelligence and would 'follow the crowd like a sheep'.
Alam Zeb Khan Alam Zeb Khan, 27, received a three-year sentence for riot - there was no evidence of him throwing stones but he was described by police as a 'ringleader' because he was seen shouting at rioters. Alam is deaf and has no previous convictions.





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