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Ex-terror plot suspect speaks out

BBC | February 8, 2007  

A man freed after he was arrested over an alleged plot to kidnap a UK Muslim soldier has criticised the police investigation.

Abu Bakr, who works in the Maktabah bookshop, targeted in anti-terror raids in Birmingham, also told BBC News the UK was "a police state for Muslims".

But Tory leader David Cameron said anti-terror laws applied to everyone.

Mr Bakr, one of nine men arrested in raids, was released without charge along with another man.

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said it was normal that some people would be arrested and released without charge in large and complex criminal investigations.

Mr Bakr, who is studying for a PhD in Political Islam at the city's university, said he became aware of the police forcing their way into his house early last Wednesday morning by his wife screaming.

Asked how he felt about his arrest, he said: "It's a police state for Muslims.

"It's not a police state for everybody else because these terror laws are designed specifically for Muslims and that's quite an open fact," he added.

However, Mr Cameron denied the law singled out Muslims.

"The terror laws apply to everybody, it's not right to say we are a police state," he said.

"We have very clear laws about how long suspects can be detained. Very clear laws about rules of evidence. Very clear rules about how the police must behave. And as long as the police meet all those laws then people shouldn't complain that this is somehow a police state."

Mr Bakr said that after he had been taken into custody and fingerprinted, his solicitor told him of the alleged plot to kidnap and kill a British Muslim soldier.

He said he only realised how big the story was when his solicitor told him film crews were at his house.

Mr Bakr said that, of the other men arrested, one was his friend, he had previously met another and did not "have a clue" about any of the others.

'Random questioning'

He had been released by police on Wednesday morning and told to "go back to things how they were", he added.

"But they don't realise that, after seven days of virtual torture for my family, it's going to be hard to readjust," he added.

"This is going to affect me for the rest of my life."

Mr Bakr said his parents had told him they had aged 10 years while he had been in custody.

"Now who is going to replace that?" he said.

He also criticised what he called "amateur-type interrogation" by the police who, he said, had subjected him to "random questioning" about notes written on pieces of paper by his young children.

Mr Bakr's accusation that Britain was a police state for Muslims was rejected by Lord McKenzie, a Labour peer and a past president of the Police Superintendents' Association.

"You tell that to the many Muslims who were killed and injured in July 2005. They want these terrorism incidents reduced and stopped. The purpose of arrest is to collect evidence, to interrogate," he said.

He insisted Mr Bakr's case showed the legal system was fair.

"What this proves is that the independent judiciary have intervened. Of course he was released, which proves that we're quite the opposite to a police state, because this isn't executive detention, this is the system working."

Muslim Labour MP Shahid Malik also rejected the claim.

"I can understand Abu Bakr's anger and hurt but it definitely doesn't lead to the conclusion that we're in a police state," he said.

"It's really important that people do remain patient and let justice take its course."

 

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