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|British Court Frees a Muslim Arrested After 9/11|
|08/10/02 at 09:34:52|
British Court Frees a Muslim Arrested After 9/11
By ALAN COWELL
LONDON, Aug. 9 — A British court today freed a Muslim who was arrested after the Sept. 11 attacks last year and accused of recruiting Islamic terrorists on a Web site that offered the "ultimate jihad experience" of live-fire military training.
The collapse of the case against Sulayman Bilal Zain-ul Ibidin, 44, was the latest in a series of embarrassing reverses for British and American authorities seeking to prosecute suspects seized in an effort to round up people with ties to Al Qaeda and the atpacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The latest defeat could also revive a debate here about antiterror laws approved last year after the attacks.
The case against Mr. Zain-ul Ibidin, a British convert to Islam, revolved around a Web site on which he offered "the ultimate jihad experience," with training in military techniques using live ammunition at camps in the United States. During court proceedings, Mr. Zain-ul Ibidin denied any link to militant groups, and said his site was a legitimate promotion for a training course for security personnel.
"It's a joke," he said. "The bottom line is that if Sept. 11 never happened I wouldn't be standing here and trying to justify trying to make a business. I'm their trophy. I'm their prize."
After Sept. 11, a newspaper article about possible British links to Islamic militants mentioned his Web site. Mr. Zain-ul Ibidin then went to the police to complain that because of the article, he did not feel safe.
Ha was arrested two weeks later. At the time of his arrest, the police raided his apartment in southeast London and found a laptop computer containing articles about Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
On his Web site, Mr. Zain-ul Ibidin advertised a company called Sakina Security Services, which offered a two-week military-type training course in the United States. But in interviews with the police he insisted that "his offer in the use of firearms had nothing whatever to do with the assisting of terrorism," according to court testimony.
Mr. Zain-ul Ibidin said his Web site was part of a "bona fide commercial venture in the training of people who wanted to be involved in the completely lawful security business, such as bodyguards." The business had been largely unsuccessful with only one person making inquiries about training as a security guard, the court was told, and it was unclear whether the course actually existed.
Mr. Zain-ul Ibidin was detained at around the same period as British authorities, smarting under accusations that London had become a haven for terrorists, seized several people, sometimes at the behest of American authorities seeking to extradite terrorism suspects. One of them was Lotfi Raissi, an Algerian pilot initially said by prosecutors to be the "lead trainer" of the Sept. 11 hijackers. Mr. Raissi was freed in February after American investigators failed to convince a British court that he should be held for extradition.
Also, in October, the British police arrested Yassir al-Sirri, an Egyptian who has sought asylum in Britain and is accused in his own country of trying to assassinate the prime minister in 1984. Mr. Sirri was said to have been linked to the killing of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the anti-Taliban Afghan leader. In May, however, a British judge said that Mr. Sirri was "an innocent fall guy" and set him free, despite an indictment in the United States on charges of disseminating terrorist messages.
Mr. Zain-ul Ibidin listed his occupation as a chef at the Royal College of Obstetricians. He was born Francis Etim in London's Chelsea district, but adopted his current name after converting to Islam in 1979. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Britain has introduced new antiterror laws permitting the detention of foreign terror suspects.
That legislation ran into trouble recently when immigration judges ruled that the law was discriminatory because it exposed only foreigners, not Britons, to detention without trial. The government has said it will appeal that ruling, and the authorities are still reported to be holding nine people — all Arab Muslims — under the new laws.
|Re: British Court Frees a Muslim Arrested After 9/|
|08/12/02 at 05:09:06|
August 10, 2002
Muslim cleared of attempting to recruit terrorists
By Richard Ford, Home Correspondent
A MUSLIM convert who claimed he had been a “trophy” scapegoat for the authorities after
the September 11 attacks was cleared yesterday of trying to recruit Islamic terrorists by
offering weapons training on his website.
Sulayman Zain-ul-abidin, had set up the Ultimate Jihad Challenge website offering live
firearms training on a ?3,000, two-week course in America.
Mark Ellison, for the prosecution at the Old Bailey, claimed that it was to “assist or
prepare for terrorism”. He added that the offer of live firearms training was something the
jury would have to give careful consideration to when deciding what message the defendant
was choosing to convey. “The invitation to others is not disputed,” he added.
Mr Zain-ul-abidin, 44, from Greenwich, southeast London, maintained that he was running a
security service and disregarded any inquiries which thought he was recruiting people for
a holy war. He had been fighting a war of words against attempts in the media to demonise
Islam. The only person to have taken a course in the last couple of years had been a
Sainsbury’s security guard.
The defendant was the first Muslim to be tried in England under the Terrorism Act 2000
Act after September 11. He was arrested three weeks after the attacks on New York and
Washington and two weeks after going into a London police station to complain that he did not
feel safe after a newspaper article about his activities.
“September 11 happened and they have got to show the public they are fighting Islamic
terrorism,” he told the court.“If September 11 never happened I wouldn’t be standing here
and trying to justify trying to make a business. I’m their trophy, I’m their prize.” They
have got to convict me.”
Mr Zain-ul-abidin had denied inviting others to receive instruction or training in making
or using firearms or explosives between February 20 and October 2 last year.
The prosecution also alleged that police found a laptop in the defendant’s locker
containing articles about al-Qaeda.
His acquittal follows two failed attempts to extradite suspected Islamic terrorists to
the United States. There has been no conviction of anyone connected to Islamic terrorism
Last week a judge dismissed extradition cases against Yasser al-Siri, a West London
bookseller, accused of being a key figure in al-Qaeda. Earlier, a case against Lotfi Raissi, a
pilot based in West London, was dismissed.
Mr Zain-ul-abidin was born Francis Etim in Chelsea but changed his name after converting
to Islam in 1979. He was a chef at the Royal College of Obstetricians.
Muddassar Arani, his solicitor, said that his client’s house had been repossessed since
Andrew Dismore, Labour MP for Hendon, who first brought the case to the public’s
attention, said he was disappointed by the outcome.
“I have been following the activities of (this firm) for getting on for three years now,”
he said, “and certainly from their website there was, I thought, quite substantial
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