Guilty… of being related to a terrorist

In today’s Guardian, Ian Cobain, a relative of 7/7 ringleader Mohammad Sidique Khan, tells Eric Cobain about his ordeal at the hands of the police, accused of being involved the plot. http://www.guardian.co.uk/attackonlondon/story/0,,2083416,00.html  

He was arrested 10 days ago on suspicion of “commissioning, preparing or instigating acts of terrorism”, along with his cousin Hasina Patel, the widow of Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the July 7 suicide bombers, and her brother Arshad. All three were released without charge after seven days.  They had been under covert surveillance for a year, then questioned for seven days, yet the police were unable to find anything to charge them with.  That tends to make me believe Imram Motala’s claim that he was persecuted because Mohammad Sidique Khan had married into his family.

Look at the “evidence” the police had to justify the arrest – a number of phone calls between Khan and Motala.  But Khan was now a member of Motala’s family, and in Muslim culture extended family is more important than it is to us.  So phone calls like theirs are not unusual.  The police were very intersted in  a flurry of telephone contacts early in May 2005. Motala explained to the detectives that most of the conversations were about a trip he was planning to Dewsbury, where Sidique Khan lived, after another cousin living there gave birth. While there, he said, he went out night-clubbing, stayed out all night, and Sidique Khan rang his mobile repeatedly to enquire after him.

Motala likes night-clubbing, break dancing, and he likes a drink.”But the police told me they thought my western lifestyle was just a cover,” he says. “Once I was at Paddington Green police station, they said: ‘It’s all there in the training manual for jihad.'”  So, if you’re an Asian, you’re fucked both ways – whether you grow a beard down to your ankles and pray five times a day or you hit the town every Friday boozing and dropping ecstasy, you fit the terrorist profile.  Hell, you don’t even have to be Asian – even Brazilians can’t go for a ride on the tube without being shot repeatedly in the head.

While in custody he learned that he had been under surveillance for a year: he and members of his family had been followed, all of his previous employers had been interviewed, and he strongly suspects that his family home in the Lozells area of Birmingham was bugged when West Midlands police raided the property last year, ostensibly looking for firearms. Despite the lengthy surveillance operation, no evidence was found that would justify charges against him.  But they chose to arrest him anywa along with his cousin Hasina Patel, the widow of Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the July 7 suicide bombers, and her brother Arshad. All three were released without charge after seven days. Another man remains in custody.  Hmm…

 Let’s have a look at who was arrested: Motala; his cousin Hasina Patel, the widow of Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the July 7 suicide bombers; and her brother Arshad. All three were released without charge after seven days.  I suspect the arresting officers were well pissed off when they were told that being related to a terrorist is not an offense. Another man remains in custody.

When When Motala was finally released, he discovered his family’s home had been raided at the time he was arrested. While his parents, brother and a sister were being driven by police to a hotel, other officers were looking under floorboards, removing photographs, documents, electrical equipment and even two Hoovers. His father, Salem, says the house “doesn’t feel the same any more – doesn’t feel like home”.  This feeling of violation is well-known to victims of burglary – the knowledge that strangers with unspeakable motives have delved through your belongings, have destroyed forever the feeling of being secure in your home.  But it wasn’t a gang of burglars performing this symbolic act
of rape – it was the police, the people who are supposed to protect us from this kind of crap.

In the ongoing “war on terror”, the police have a nice long list of possible terrorists.  If you have a dark complexion, or if you’re in any way related to someone who’s been been possibly involved in terrorism, you can be sure that your name is on that list.

So don’t be surprised if, in the early hours of the morning, someone knocks on your door – with a battering ram.  And be careful when getting onto a tube train.  Mind the gap… and the bunch of armed policemen shooting you in the back.

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