Last British Guantanamo prisoner pens powerful letter on twelfth anniversary of detention


February 14, 2014

 

The last remaining British prisoner held in Guantanamo Bay has penned a powerful letter to mark Valentine’s Day – the twelfth anniversary of his detention. Shaker Aamer has been held without charge or trial since his arrest in Afghanistan in November 2001. He was transferred to Guantanamo Bay on 14 February 2002 where has been held since – despite being cleared for release by the Bush administration in 2007 and again by the Obama administration in 2009.

Conveying the desperation felt by prisoners at the US military run camp in Cuba, he wrote: “How do I feel with another year of my life gone unjustly and another year started? Truly, I feel numb. I can’t even think about it. Years are passing like months and months like weeks. Weeks pass like days and days like hours. Hours feel like minutes, minutes seconds, and seconds pass like years. And it goes around in a strange circle that makes no sense. It all takes an age, and yet an age of my life seems to pass too fast. On and on and on. Shaker Aamer with two of his children before his arrest Shaker Aamer with two of his children before his arrest

Mr Aamer, who is currently on hunger strike, added: “I feel lonely and lost. Not knowing my future is the worst torture. I am living just to die. I am confused about everything and everyone. It is not enough for them to leave us alone with all this pain we are suffering. It is not enough for us to live only with our memories, which bring more pain.”

He also captured some of the alleged mistreatment and humiliation the 160 current inmates suffer in the prison. He describes how ‘the National Anthem is playing so loudly’ at his time of writing and how a fellow inmate consistently misses his legal call because of the full body search he is threated with by the guards. Shaker Aamer: ‘I may have to die. I hope not. I want to see my family again’

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/last-british-guantanamo-prisoner-pens-powerful-letter-on-twelfth-anniversary-of-detention-9129745.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/shaker-aamer-i-may-have-to-die-i-hope-not-i-want-to-see-my-family-again-8581966.html

British amateur boxer ‘killed fighting jihad in Syria’

February 13, 2014

 

An amateur boxer has become the tenth known Briton to have died fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria. On Thursday police were searching the house where Anil Khalil Raoufi, 20, a mechanical engineering student, lived with his family in a suburb of Manchester. Police said they were assessing how Britons were being drawn into travelling to Syria and “how to prevent others doing the same”.

Neighbours of the family, who were not at the property yesterday, spoke of their shock as police carried on searches at the family’s detached home on a quiet, tree-lined street in Didsbury.

Raoufi’s father runs two restaurants on Manchester’s “Curry Mile” and his mother, Kamala, is a housewife. They are believed to have come to the UK from Afghanistan around 10 years ago. Their eldest son is a pharmacist and they also have a daughter and a young son, aged around nine.

He also railed against news articles calling ISIS extremists, and in one posting expressed pride that two boys “not older than 14” had joined him at a training camp. “We’re not like barbaric Victorians who sent their children up their fireplaces to die sweeping chimneys for a few shillings. Islam breeds heroes,” he said.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it was aware of reports of Raoufi’s death but could not confirm them.

 

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10636842/British-amateur-boxer-killed-fighting-jihad-in-Syria.html

Video about the departure of Jihadist fighters from Ceuta to Syria

February 15, 2014

 

Rachdi Babi is an example of a Jihadist fighter departing from Ceuta to be a martyr in Syria.

In the video we watch him giving graces, saying farewell to his family and friends and announcing his immolation in Syria for the sake of his brothers.

He travels to his death by the streets of Syria until he bumps against a head quarter killing 130 people.

The video caught the attention of the police already in July and since then they have been observing the area of Ceuta, as the most individuals departure from there to Syria.

Two journalists give an account of the socio-economical conditions in Ceuta that may be the roots of this phenomenon.

The last known case of a jihadist from Ceuta being killed in Syria is a teenager of 16 years old.

 

Cuatro.com

http://www.cuatro.com/diario-de/programas/temporada-13/t13xp06/Principe-caldo-cultivo-yihadistas_2_1748805241.html

Muslims join Paris protest against gender equality drive in schools

February 2, 2014

 

Tens of thousands of supporters of the conservative “Manif pour Tous” movement (Protest for Everyone) gathered in Paris on Sunday February 2nd to protest against gender equality teaching in schools. The “Manif Pour Tous” (MPT) mounted huge protests before legislation was passed in 2013 allowing gay marriages, and its focus now is on medically-assisted procreation for same-sex couples.

Sunday’s march included a prominent Muslim contribution in a protest movement that has so far been overwhelmingly linked to far-right political parties and to conservative Catholic groups.

Many protesters also told FRANCE 24 they were worried about the state’s role in sex education, and the supposed “gender theory” lurking behind an “ABCD of equality” initiative aimed at breaking down gender stereotypes in schools.

The demonstrators claim the move is a deliberate attempt to brainwash children from an early age against what they consider the “natural” differences between men and women, boys and girls.

“The state has no business lecturing children on subjects as private as sexual identity or of imposing adult preoccupations on young children,” said MPT leader Ludivine de la Rochère, voicing a concern shared by many of the Muslim associations that joined Sunday’s march through central Paris.

Among the heads of the various groups was Samir Driss, of the Muslims for Childhood group.

He told FRANCE 24 that increasing numbers of Muslims were joining the MPT movement, despite its Christian and far-right reputation, attracted to its traditional and conservative view of family life.

“Education should be about teaching children skills so that they can get jobs,” he said. “Sex education is not going to get them into work. Sexuality is a subject that I will raise in front of my children when I see fit.”

His words were echoed by Camel Bechikh, who heads the ‘Sons of France’ association of patriotic French Muslims. “The state is responsible for practical instruction of children in schools, not their moral education, which is the business of the family,” he told FRANCE 24. “When I take my children to school I expect them to be taught history and geography. I don’t want them to be told the state’s idea of what is morally right or wrong. That is my job as their father and head of the family.”

At the very front of the march, which was dominated by middle class ethnically French demonstrators, Najib Guarraz was among a group holding a huge banner bearing the words, in French and in Arabic:

“French Muslims opposed to same-sex marriage.” The 54-year-old father of two told FRANCE 24 he was protesting because “I am opposed to gender theory lessons in schools, I am opposed to same-sex marriage. We are in the process of destroying the fundamentals of French life.’’

Sunday’s protest comes a week after several thousand people marched through Paris in a violent “Day of Anger” against the policies of President François Hollande’s Socialist government, including last year’s law allowing gay marriage.

 

Source: http://www.france24.com/en/20140202-thousands-french-conservatives-march-family-values/

Second British pensioner faces blasphemy charges in Pakistan for reading from Koran in public

January 31, 2014

 

The family of a second British man facing blasphemy charges in Pakistan said yesterday that he is entirely innocent and called for more to be done to allow him to return to the UK. Masud Ahmad, 72, is currently on bail in Lahore after he was allegedly tricked into publicly reading from the Koran – an act which is forbidden for members of the minority Ahmadi sect to which he belongs. He now faces three years in jail. Mr Ahmad had been released from prison on bail and was now in secure accommodation pending trial although it was not known when the case would be heard and he faced a long and uncertain wait.

Following his arrest in November more than 600 people protested outside the police station. Under Pakistan law it is an offence for Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim. Each year dozens of members of the sect are charged with breaching religious laws whilst they and other minorities are also at risk of outbreaks of sectarian violence in the country if they are deemed to have committed blasphemy.

The quietly-spoken widower was arrested after he was recorded on a mobile phone reading from the Koran by two men posing as patients. Amnesty International said he was maliciously targeted because of his religion.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We will continue to provide consular assistance to both Mr Ahmad and his family.”

 

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/second-british-pensioner-faces-blasphemy-charges-in-pakistan-for-reading-from-koran-in-public-9099929.html

Allah vs atheism: ‘Leaving Islam was the hardest thing I’ve done’

January 19, 2014

 

Amal Farah, a 32-year-old banking executive, is laughing about a contestant singing off-key in the last series of The X Factor. For a woman who was not allowed to listen to music when she was growing up, this is a delight. After years of turmoil, she is in control of her own life.

On the face of it, she is a product of modern Britain. Born in Somalia to Muslim parents, she grew up in Yemen and came to the UK in her late teens. After questioning her faith, she became an atheist and married a Jewish lawyer. But this has come at a cost. When she turned her back on her religion, she was disowned by her family and received death threats. She has not seen her mother or her siblings for eight years. None of them have met her husband or daughter.

It can be difficult to leave any religion, and those that do can face stigma and even threats of violence. But there is a growing movement, led by former Muslims, to recognise their existence. In more than a dozen countries people who espouse atheism or reject the official state religion of Islam can be executed under the law, according to a recent report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union. But there is an ongoing debate about the “Islamic” way to deal with apostates. Broadcaster Mohammed Ansar says the idea that apostates should be put to death is “not applicable” in Islam today because the act was traditionally conflated with state treason.

“The position of many a scholar I have discussed the issue with is if people want to leave, they can leave,” said Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. “I don’t believe they should be discriminated against or harmed in any way whatsoever. There is no compulsion in religion.”

Baroness Warsi, the Minister of State for Faith and Communities, agreed. “One of the things I’ve done is put freedom of religion and belief as top priority at the Foreign Office,” she said.

The Ex-Muslim Forum, a group of former Muslims, was set up seven years ago. Then, about 15 people were involved; now they have more than 3,000 members around the world. Membership has reportedly doubled in the past two years. Another affiliated group, the Ex-Muslims of North America, was launched last year.

Zaheer Rayasat, 26, from London, has not yet told his parents that he is an atheist. Born into a traditional Pakistani family, he said he knew he didn’t believe in God from the age of 15. “For a lot of older Muslims, to be a Muslim is an identity, whereas, for me, it’s a theological, philosophical position. They might feel they have failed as parents; some malicious people might call them up, gloating about it. Some would see it as an act of betrayal. My hope is that they will eventually forgive me for it.”

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/allah-vs-atheism-leaving-islam-was-the-hardest-thing-ive-done-9069598.html

 

Muslim Christmas Celebrations Gain Footing In America

December 24, 2013

By Omar Sacirbey

 

RNS – A generation or two ago, when America’s Muslims were new immigrants who made up an even smaller minority of Americans than they do today, the lights, trees, carols, gifts and festive spirit of Christmas were viewed by many Muslims as a threat to their children’s Islamic faith.

But these days, a growing number of Muslims celebrate Christmas, or at least partake in some ways, even if they don’t decorate their homes with trees and a light show. Indeed, many Muslim families have created their own unique Christmas traditions.

“I teach my three children, who attend public school and happen to be born into an interfaith Christian-Muslim family, that we absolutely do celebrate Christmas because we are Muslim,” Hannah Hawk of Houston wrote in an email. Rather than putting up a tree or lights, “we celebrate the reason for the season, Jesus, by studying all that is written about him in the Quran and by examining historical theories.”

The Hawks also give to charity, bake treats for neighbors, invite them to dinner, and wish friends, colleagues and teachers “Merry Christmas” with cards and phone calls. Hawk’s kids get together with Christian friends to perform various good deeds. This year, they will play songs (violins, viola, trumpet, cellos, bells) at a local community hospital for patients recovering from surgery.

To be sure, some Muslim leaders still criticize Christmas celebrations as assimilation gone too far.

Imam Muzammil Siddiqi, a former president of the Islamic Society of North America, has argued that Muslims should not celebrate Christmas because the holiday commemorates the birth of a figure revered by Christians as the Son of God, which violates Islamic beliefs.

“We should tell our children that we are Muslims and this is not our holiday,” Siddiqi said in comments posted at the website OnIslam.net. “This is the holiday of our Christian neighbors and friends.”

To protect their children from the attraction of Christmas, he said, Muslim parents should take advantage of Islamic camps and conferences established at this time of year for this very reason.

But others see a new generation of Muslims born or reared in the United States who feel secure enough to view Christmas as another tradition they can relate to, and to celebrate it in a wide variety of ways — as do their Christian neighbors.

“Muslims should join their Christian neighbors to celebrate Christmas,” said Rizwan Kadir, a financial adviser who is active in his Muslim community in suburban Chicago. “We also believe in Isa,” Kadir added, using the Arabic name for Jesus, “and he has a very special place in Islam.”

While Muslims don’t believe Jesus was crucified or that he is part of the triune Godhead, they do believe in the Virgin birth, and claim Jesus as a prophet — a predecessor to Muhammad — who ascended to heaven, and will return as part of the Second Coming.

Kadir adds that Muslims shouldn’t retreat from Christmas festivities. His family doesn’t put up a tree or lights, but Kadir does go to holiday parties at work, wishes friends and neighbors a “Merry Christmas,” and watches “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and “Home Alone” — a Kadir family tradition.

“To me, those are just fun things that people do around this time of year,” said Kadir. “It doesn’t make you a Christian. It doesn’t mean you’re compromising your faith.”

That view, however, has taken time to evolve.

Zeyna Ahmed, the American-born daughter of Egyptian parents, remembers that her mother liked some aspects of Christmas. But her father “stifled it.”

“Their way of holding on to their heritage was just pushing everything that was Muslim,” said Ahmed, who lives in Easton, Pa.

When her four children started asking why the family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, she felt it wasn’t adequate to say, “because we’re Muslim,” since “we also believe in Jesus,” Ahmed said.

So, for the last seven years, Ahmed, who is divorced, has celebrated Christmas with a tree, lights, and acts of charity. She also gets a menorah for Hanukkah and cooks a big meal on the last night.

“I want to expose them to different traditions,” Ahmed said, referring to her kids. “I feel like if you respect their holidays, they’ll respect our holidays. It develops mutual respect.”

Hawk agreed. “Christmas, like Ramadan, is the perfect interfaith footbridge for Muslim-Christian fellowship,” she wrote. “Both are the perfect times to hold interfaith vigils, pray together for peace, and pledge to uphold God’s message to spread goodwill and reach out to and help the less fortunate in our society.”

Some Islamic leaders have come on board, too.

Imam Talal Eid of Quincy, Mass., a former member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, cited the 13th verse of the Quran’s 49th chapter, which states that God created “peoples and tribes that you may know one another.”

And, he added, at a time when some Christians and Jews in America have fasted in solidarity with Muslims during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Muslims should reciprocate.

“This is not about theological details,” said Eid. “This is a matter of fellowship and social activity. There is nothing wrong with exchanging gifts and participating.”

 

Religion News Service/Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/24/muslim-christmas-celebrations_n_4494836.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

Lee Rigby killing: two British Muslim converts convicted of murder

The first Islamist terrorists to carry out their plan to murder on British soil without killing themselves in the process have been convicted of mutilating and attempting to behead a soldier, as the prime minister vowed to step up efforts to defeat the al-Qaida ideology of violence.

British-born Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale (Adebolajo has asked to be known as Mujahid Abu Hamza in court, and Adebowale has asked to be called Ismail Ibn Abdullah) were convicted of murdering Lee Rigby last May, after scouring an area around the Woolwich barracks hunting for a soldier to kill. One was set on the path to murder by a deluded belief that 9/11 was a Western conspiracy. The other told of his disgust at watching television in 2003 as Western missiles rained down on Baghdad in the battle to remove Saddam Hussein from power. The savagery of the murder, in which Rigby, 25, was repeatedly stabbed and hacked at the neck by a cleaver, shattered community relations when mosques were attacked. It was the first murderous attack in Britain by those motivated by the al-Qaida ideology of violence since the 7 July 2005 bombings of London’s transport system by four suicide bombers.

While convicting them of murder, the jury accepted their defence to a charge of attempting to murder armed officers who turned up to arrest them. Adebolajo and Adebowale claimed they charged at the armed officers clutching a machete and unloaded gun, not because they wanted to kill them but because they wanted to be shot dead and achieve martyrdom. The brother of one of the men convicted on Thursday of murdering Lee Rigby has told the Guardian that he believes the killing of the soldier in the street was justified by their Islamic faith. In remarks that a majority of British Muslims would regard as an extremist mutation of their religion, Jeremiah Adebolajo claimed his brother Michael had sought to “please Allah by fighting in his cause” in the barbarous attack in Woolwich, south London.

Witness Amanda Donnelly Martin was passed a warped handwritten note by one of Fusilier Lee Rigby’s murderers. Ms Donnelly Martin was at the soldier’s side, attempting to comfort him as he lay in the road when Michael Adebolajo handed her the note. It appears to be an attempt at explaining or justifying the barbaric murder – urging the removal of “so-called politicians” and making bizarre references to “international armed robbery” and “bewitching tongues”.

In full it read:

“To my beloved children, know that to fight Allah’s enemies is an obligation. The proofs of which are so numerous that but a handful of any of them cuts out the bewitching tongues of the Munafiqeen (hypocrites). Do not spend your days in endless dispute with the cowardly and foolish, if it means it will delay you meeting Allah’s enemies on the battle field. Sometimes the cowardly and foolish could be those dearest to you so be prepared to turn away from them. When you set out on this path do not look left or right. Seek Shaheed Ala oh my sons, so that you might be raised together and if it is Allah’s decree that you’re not to be in the hearts of green birds then be ready for to enter the university of Joosuf Sijn (sic) be patient there and be firm there and Inshallah you will meet your lord with him pleased with you. Verily Allah is with those who are patient. If I live beyond this day and you find me talking other than this then know that perhaps Allah has left me to stray. If you find yourself curious as to why carnage is reaching your own towns then know it’s simply retaliation for your oppression in our towns. Many of your people are aristocrats that directly benefit from invasion of our lands without material loss. Whereas the average Joe Bloggs working class man loses his sons when they’re killed by our brothers, when the heat of battle reaches your local street it’s unlikely that any of your so-called politicians will be at risk or caught in crossfire so I suggest you remove them. Remove them and replace them with who will secure your safety by immediate withdrawal from the affairs of Muslims. Muslims will trade with you on fair terms but understand that the days of your international armed robbery is (sic) drawing to a close. To humble yourselves willingly is better for you. May Allah guide your nation to the truth.

Michael Adebolajo “slayed” the soldier Lee Rigby in broad daylight in an attack meant to wreak carnage , a jury has been told. The jury went out shortly after 11am yesterday, returning to deliver unanimous verdicts which were greeted by sobs. Rigby’s stepfather, Ian, wiped away tears and put his arm around the soldier’s mother, Lyn, who was crying.

The mother of Michael Adebowale, one of the two men convicted of hacking soldier Lee Rigby to death has blamed “the evil ones” of Islam for luring her son into a world of fanaticism. Juliet Adebowale also spoke of her sorrow for the fusilier’s family, saying: “That poor, poor family have lost a son – but so have I”. His brother’s defence contrasts with the stance taken by their parents – of Nigerian Christian heritage – who have condemned their son’s attack. Jeremiah said he was close to his brother, and that their upbringing in Romford had not been deprived and there was a strong family focus on education. He dismissed claims Michael Adebolajo might have had a troubled family life.

They were “polite, nice guys” from strict Christian families. Michael Adebolajo’s passions were “music and football and girls”. Michael Adebowale was a “lovable, quiet boy” who enjoyed cooking Jamie Oliver recipes. Yet, during their teens, these two east London boys descended into a life of petty street crime and drugs, before converting to Islamic extremism which drove them to commit the brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.

Jeremiah also sought to argue that the brutal murder of a young man was motivated by anger at western foreign policy – but dismissed the possibility that MI5 could be blamed because the security service had repeatedly tried to recruit his brother as an informant. The attack raised questions for MI5 and police, who had known of the men for eight years. Adebolajo has told those who have seen him since his arrest that repeated alleged attempts by MI5 to turn him into an informant had not played a part in the murder, which he blames purely on anger at western foreign policy. In 2010 Adebolajo had been arrested in Kenya, a gateway to terrorist areas in Somalia and it was claimed he was ill-treated with British complicity.

In the interview, Jeremiah – who says he was converted to Islam by Michael – adopted many of the views his brother expressed when he gave evidence at the Old Bailey. Asked if he was proud of his brother, Jeremiah said: “In that he is a Muslim and that he sought to please Allah by fighting in his cause and dying in his cause, then to this extent yes.”

Interviewed by the Guardian before the jury returned its guilty verdict on Michael, Jeremiah said he loved his brother more than he did a year ago, despite the Woolwich events. Counterterrorism officials continue to assess 2,000 individuals in the UK as posing a terrorist threat, a number that they say has remained roughly constant since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.

Adebolajo became more extreme and took part in numerous Islamist protests in London. He also fathered six children, one born just four days before Mr Rigby’s murder. In 2006 he was arrested during a violent demonstration outside the Old Bailey, where fellow fanatics were on trial accused of soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred following the publication of a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. In 2007 he was filmed by the BBC protesting outside Paddington Green police station after the arrest of another fanatic. He was holding a placard which complained of a “Crusade Against Muslims”. In 2008 he spent three months in custody after assaulting a police officer. The following year a video showed him ranting on a platform in front of young Muslims outside north London mosque. He told them: “Do not be scared of the filthy kuffar [non-believers]. They are pigs.”

Jeremiah argued that his brother’s act of murder was a “military strike” by a “soldier”, and in keeping with the teachings of the Qur’an. It is a claim British Muslims dispute, but he mocked them too, saying Muslims in the rest of the world regard Britain as having “blood on its hands”. He claimed his brother had been forcibly brought back to Britain from Kenya in 2010 after he tried to reach areas of Somalia controlled by extremist groups affiliated to the al-Qaida ideology. Jeremiah said: “My brother left to Kenya, to go and live in Somalia under the sharia. This was his choice. What the British government did is brought him back.”

The security services face questions over whether they underestimated the threat posed. The intelligence and security committee is investigating how much MI5 knew of the men’s activities. The men are believed to have acted alone. Adebolajo told jurors that he was a “soldier of Allah” and was obliged to obey the command of Allah. He described how he held the soldier’s hair as he hacked at his neck in a motion described by one witness as like a “butcher attacking a joint of meat”. Adebowale did not testify in his own defence and his police interviews were not heard by the court. Adebolajo’s barrister, David Gottlieb, began his closing speech by complaining that his client had been demonised as a “total monster” by the press and politicians. “I suggest to you this background of religion, race, class and politics has been a toxic mix and when you add in the word terrorism, as we have in this case, it made it impossible for rational people to think straight,” he told the jury.

Until recently Woolwich and nearby Plumstead hosted extreme Islamist preachers, such as Omar Bakri Mohammed, the self-styled sheikh responsible for Adebowale’s conversion to Islam, and Anjem Choudary, the founder of Al Muhajiroun who once counted Adebolajo in his following. The crossroads where Drummer Rigby was slain is also a five-minute drive from HMP Belmarsh, the high-security prison where many of Britain’s most committed Islamist terrorists are housed.

Killing to make a political point, to frighten the public and put pressure on the government of the day or as an expression of anger is murder and remains murder whether the government is a good one, a bad one or a dreadful one. What happened was designed to tear apart the oneness of Woolwich. It didn’t happen – people were brought closer, regardless of race or creed. And the reason that happened was because of what pre-existed this attack. People were disconcerted by what might happen afterwards but we had the links and the structures in place to show unity between Muslims, Christians, Sikhs – everybody. The community can remember [Lee Rigby] but it can also move on. Work by police and community leaders has indeed outwardly smoothed the troubled waters created by the murder. Farooq Murad, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “Muslim communities then, as now, were united in their condemnation of this crime. This was a dishonourable act and no cause justifies cold-blooded murder.”

Mr Justice Sweeney, the trial judge, said he would pass sentence after a key ruling by the court of appeal in January on the use of whole-life terms. He is considering sentencing the men to die in jail. In two recent cases he rejected crown demands for whole-life sentences, including a terrorist case where a Muslim man was murdered by a Ukrainian man who also staged a bombing campaign, who received a minimum term of 40 years.

 

The Independent:

The Telegraph:

The Guardian:

David Cameron describes death of Dr Abbas Khan in Syrian prison as ‘sickening’ as doctor’s body is flown back to UK

December 22, 2013

 

David Cameron has written to the mother of a British doctor who died in custody in Syria, describing his death as “a sickening and appalling tragedy”. Dr Abbas Khan, 32, was on the verge of being released when his family were told of his death this week. His relatives have said he was the victim of a political murder, but the Syrian government have called his death suicide. His body was flown back to the UK today and will undergo a post-mortem examination. In a letter dated December 20, the Prime Minister told his mother, Fatima Khan, that he and his wife Samantha were “so very sorry” to hear of her son’s death.

He branded the regime’s treatment of Dr Khan “despicable” and claimed it was “utterly unacceptable” that the UK was not able to support him.

The orthopaedic surgeon from London was captured in November 2012 in the ancient city of Aleppo after travelling from Turkey to help victims of hospital bombings. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it transported his body from Damascus to the Lebanese capital Beirut, where it was received by his mother Fatima Khan and British officials.

Mrs Khan, who has “110%” refuted claims that he committed suicide, broke down in tears when the coffin arrived. Mrs Khan has categorically denied claims made by Syria’s deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad that he had killed himself. In the last few days the family revealed a letter in which the doctor expressed his optimism at being released, and his hopes of being home in time for Christmas.

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/david-cameron-describes-death-of-dr-abbas-khan-in-syrian-prison-as-sickening-as-doctors-body-is-flown-back-to-uk-9020741.html

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/22/abbas-khan-body-flown-uk