Two Pakistani students arrested over an alleged terror plot have returned to Pakistan after deciding to leave the UK voluntarily, the Home Office has said. Abdul Khan, 26, and Shoaib Khan, 27, were among 12 people held by police after raids in north-west England in April, but the pair were never charged.
It is understood the men decided to leave after being denied bail while appealing against deportation. Abdul Khan said his detention had been “like a hell” and his treatment showed the British authorities “do not know what justice means”. The men’s solicitor, Amjad Malik, said his clients should have been freed instead of being held for months. Mr Malik claimed both men had been frequently strip-searched, subjected to “searches by dogs” and served tainted food. The British High Commission in Pakistan has rejected the allegations as “unfounded”.
Counterterrorism officials believe an alleged al-Qaeda terror plot against the UK, designed to cause mass casualties, was due to be carried out over Easter. The police raided fifteen locations in the Northwest of England on Wednesday, April 8, arresting 12 suspects of whom 11 are Pakistani nationals. They are believed to be part of a Pakistan-based and trained al-Qaeda cell.
The arrests took place in the afternoon, being rushed forward after a security blunder. Senior police and top counterterrorist officer Bob Quick had exposed a secret document on the ‘Operation Pathway’ to photographers on his way to a 10 Downing street meeting. The operation was then carried out within hours in the daytime and Quick resigned from his post.
It is probable that the Pakistani nationals will now be deported to Pakistan, if the alleged accusations are proved. Their families back home expressed shock and anger and denied any connection of their sons to al-Qaeda. The incident reveals the tense situation in British home affairs. Most probably, a major terrorist plot has probably been foiled; at the same time, the daytime operation endangered other residents, and solid evidence for the alleged plot must now be made public.