There was a very interesting story published in the Observer ten days ago about Rizwaan Sabir – a research student who had been arrested four years ago for downloading the “al-Qa’ida Training Manual” but was then released without charge seven days later. The Observer found that:
“Documents from the professional standards unit of West Midlands police reveal that officers fabricated key elements of the case against former University of Nottingham student, Rizwaan Sabir.
“…the results of the internal West Midlands police professional standards investigation into the affair following complaints by Thornton over the police’s handing of the case is complete. It found that officers effectively invented what Thornton, the university’s sole terrorism expert, told them about the al-Qaida training manual in a police interview.
“During the interview Thornton said that he merely told police that Sabir was studying al-Qaida, but was never asked to discuss the manual. Thornton says that officers invented claims that he had concerns over the manual which he says are an apparent attempt to justify the arrest and police anti-terror operation, codenamed Minerva.
“The findings of the force’s standard’s inquiry upheld Thornton’s claim that officers “made up what he said about the al-Qaida manual.”
“It also states that the actual minutes of the Gold Group meeting of the detectives assigned to the case “incorrectly recorded” their conversation with Thornton.
“Internal notes from the Gold Group meeting, dated May 17 2008, actually reveal police quoting Thornton as believing the manual was a “tactical document” and could not be considered relevant to Sabir’s academic research into terrorism.
“Thornton has now referred the police treatment of him to the IPCC. The standards board, however, says that no officers will be investigated for misconduct.”
This was clearly a very important story. Anti-terror police have a crucial responsibility in trying protect the UK and to thwart plots by terrorist groups. So, it is hugely damaging if it is found that anti-terror officers are effectively making up evidence against alleged terror suspects – as evidently happened in the case of Rizwaan Sabir.
In a must read interview with Nottingham IndyMedia two days ago, Rizwaan Sabir said:
“Evidence was manufactured against me because the police were trying to justify their actions by giving the impression that I was somehow connected to terrorism. What people don’t understand – unless confronted directly by the police – is that when police undertake a counter-terrorism operation, they are involving themselves in deeply politicised policing and with such policing pressures comes an expectation to produce results that support and reinforce political agendas. In order to prove themselves, police simply invented evidence in my case. The question we must all therefore ask is – how many people have been charged as terrorists on the basis of falsified evidence? One must remember that the Observer revelations only emerged after 4 years of intense investigation and questions into the Nottingham case. In the vast majority of cases, however, where people are arrested as suspected terrorists and released without charge or are eventually acquitted – how do we know the police haven’t simply made up information to bring a case against them? I think it’s important for lawyers and those that have been subjected to false imprisonment to work together in figuring out whether evidence has been manufactured in their case too. An independent investigation into the Nottingham case, and similar cases, will allow this understanding to be formed, which will, one hopes, allow for a more proportionate and progressive series of anti-terror measures to be implemented.”
What is very perplexing to me, is that as far as I can tell, not a single major national Muslim organisation has commented on this story – a story which has huge ramifications for British Muslims in particular. There seem to have been no public calls for the IPCC to urgently investigate why no gross misconduct charges have been brought against the police officers who made up evidence against Rizwaan Sabir.
This is all the more surprising given Islam’s teaching on upholding justice and the need to combat injustice. So why the silence? Has PREVENT neutered the entire UK Muslim establishment?