14 July 2012
Rizwaan Sabir, a British Muslim student from Nottingham University was arrested by the Police under the Terrorism Act, in 2008. He was accused of downloading an al-Qaida training manual for terrorist purposes. Sabir was doing an MA on terrorism tactics at the time and he had downloaded the manual from a US government website for his research. After remaining seven days in police custody, Sabir was released without charge.
The incident then became a flagrant demonstration of the Islamophobia rooted in the British Universities. The university’s sole terrorism expert Dr Rod Thornton, published an article condemning the University’s handling of the arrest and treatment of Sabir and alleging that the university attempted to smear the student.
An internal investigation carried out by West Midlands police into the affair following complaints by Thornton over the police’s handing of the case has now been completed. It found that officers effectively invented what Dr Thornton told them about the al-Qaida training manual in a police interview. The case has now been referred to Independent Police Complaints Commission.
29 June 2012
According to the media reports, the arrests were based on a tip-off after men were seen behaving suspiciously close to the Olympic venue. The two suspects were detained under the Terrorism Act 2000 on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism and held at a central London police station.
However, the police have been under heavy criticism for allowing police to exercise excessive powers thus leaving scope for abuse. In addition, the great majority of those who have been arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 have been released without charge.
On the other hand, David Anderson QC, The Government’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation is working towards ensuring that Muslims are not wrongfully arrested during the Olympic Games in London amidst fears that the police may abuse their powers under the Terrorism Act 2000.
The National Post – February 16, 2012
A newly released intelligence report from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) warns that teenagers are being exposed to Islamist extremism in Canadian high schools. CSIS says that in two recent cases, suspects charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act “appear to have been radicalized in part while attending Canadian secondary school institutions.”
The appeal of extremism among youths is a key concern to Canadian counterterrorism officials, particularly since the 2006 arrests of the Toronto 18, whose members plotted truck bombings in Toronto and an assault on the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. Since then, a handful of youths have left — or tried to leave — Canada for Pakistan and Somalia to join terrorist groups.
While returning from holiday, Glasgow MSP Humza Yousaf was selected for security checks from among returning passengers at Edinburgh airport. The Scottish Herald reports that checks according to Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act (the so-called “skin color check”) had previously angered Muslims so much that they threatened to boycott Scottish airports in favor of flying from Manchester to avoid what they perceive as harassment.
News Agencies – March 15, 2011
The RCMP have charged two Canadians with terrorism-related offences in connection to a 2009 plot to blow up packed subway cars in New York. The RCMP allege that the al-Qaeda terrorists behind the plot were trained by a University of Manitoba student who has disappeared from Canada.
Ferid Imam vanished from Winnipeg in 2007 and is now suspected of being in the mountains of northwestern Pakistan. He is now being sought on terrorist-training charges as part of a new criminal case. The case, which alleges lesser offences by a second suspect, amounts to a crucial test of the reach of Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act. Passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, it allows police to charge suspects who are suspected of committing terrorist offences outside Canada’s borders. The new case is the first time that the Mounties have charged someone with acts taking place entirely overseas.
Police hope the case against Mr. Imam – who faces a life sentence if he is caught and convicted of being a terrorist trainer – will alert the public about what they say is the growing threat posed by radicals from the West who want to join al-Qaeda and its affiliates.
Canadian prosecutors have indicated they will appeal a 12-year prison sentence handed down to Saad Gaya, one of the “Toronto 18” group accused of planning al Qaeda-style bombings of Toronto landmarks in 2006. The Crown had sought a harsher sentence for Gaya, who pleaded guilty in September to plotting an explosion likely to cause death, the most serious of the charges against the “Toronto 18” group of extremists.
Police say Gaya and the other alleged plotters had planned to bomb the Toronto Stock Exchange, the CN Tower and other downtown targets in Canada’s largest city. Gaya’s sentence came on the same day that the alleged ringleader of the group, Zakaria Amara, was given a life sentence, the stiffest yet imposed under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The 24-year-old Canadian mastermind of an al-Qaida-inspired plot to explode truck bombs in downtown Toronto has issued an abject apology to Canadians.
“I deserve nothing less than your complete contempt,” Mr. Amara told Mr. Justice Bruce Durno as he read an “open letter to Canadians” during his sentencing hearing. He pleaded guilty to terrorism offences last October and is to be sentenced next week.
These were the first public remarks by Mr. Amara, a ringleader of the so-called “Toronto 18” plot, who spent the spring of 2006 trying to procure huge quantities of explosive chemicals in order to build truck bombs. Starting off by quoting the Qur’an, in hindsight, he said his interpretation of Islam was “naïve and gullible,” and that his belief system made worse by the fact he had “isolated himself from the real world.” It wasn’t until he got to prison, he said, that he began to learn tolerance. Mr. Amara, a Sunni Muslim, talked of how he had also befriended a Jewish inmate, and a Shia Muslim, men from two religions he would have viewed with only contempt prior to his incarceration.
Mr. Amara faces life in prison, a punishment which the Crown is requesting. He will get one of the stiffest – if not the stiffest – terrorism sentence imposed since Parliament passed the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
The case of Canada’s notorious homegrown terror plot enters a significant phase in 2010 with the trials upcoming for the final six alleged members, accused of attending a training camp and plotting to bomb various targets. The Crown has alleged some of the men held a terrorism training camp north of Toronto and that others were involved in the bomb plot.
One of the remaining men is expected to have his trial by judge in January, while the other five men’s case is expected to be put in front of a jury starting in March.
The guilty pleas and the outcome of the first man’s trial will have absolutely no bearing on the last five men’s case, said lawyer William Naylor, who represents the man who will stand trial in January. The fact that those five men have elected trial by jury is breaking new ground. This is the first time an Anti-Terrorism Act case will be tried by a jury. All of the six men awaiting trial have been in custody since their arrests in June 2006, except for one, who was granted bail in August.
Last week the Guardian uncovered a report by MI5 suggesting there is no single pathway to Islamic extremism. What a surprise! And in a further deconstruction of preconceptions, the report found evidence that a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation. If this is the case, what are the implications for racial and religious profiling? The report clearly dismantles any assumptions that can be made about the identity, background and religiosity of a would-be terrorist. The UK’s Muslim population is a mere 2.8% but is so ethnically diverse that the government could cynically use this report to sanction the continuing infringement of civil liberties of the entire population through ID cards, surveillance and so on. The sounding the death knell for racial profiling is something to celebrate, but I wonder whether my optimism is premature. Adam Khan, 28, from North London also has his reservations, after repeatedly being stopped and interrogated under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 when trying to return to the UK. Samia Rahman reports.
The defense lawyer of Momin Khawaja, a Pakistani-born Canadian citizen, accused of collaborating with a group of British Muslims who in 2004 sought to bomb British buildings and natural gas grids, told the Ontario Superior Court that his client’s case should be thrown out. Attorney Lawrence Greenspon presented a motion requesting that the terrorism charges be dropped due to a lack of evidence to substantiate bomb-plot allegations. Khawaja has said that while he wanted to fight for the Islamic cause in Afghanistan, he never intended to bomb civilians in Britain. Khawaja, an Ottawa software developer, faces seven charges under Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act, which include financing and facilitating terrorism, participating in terrorist training and meetings, and making a house owned by his family in Pakistan available for terrorist use. Khawaja has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.