A man described as an “al Qaida operative” and another labelled as “willing to participate” in his plans today won the right to stay in the UK.
Abid Naseer, 24, and Ahmed Faraz Khan, 26, both Pakistani nationals who were arrested last year in counter-terrorism raids but never charged, were told they had won their appeal against deportation at a hearing of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) in central London.
Mr Justice Mitting, chairman of Siac, said in a written ruling the panel was “satisfied” Naseer was an al Qaida operative who “posed and still poses” a serious threat to the national security of the UK.
He said it would be “conducive to the public good” if Naseer was deported, but the tribunal was allowing his appeal because “the issue of safety on return” made it impossible to send him back to Pakistan.
The judge added that Faraz Khan – said to have undergone a “radical change of view” between leaving home and arriving in the UK – could “safely be taken to have been willing to participate” in Naseer’s plans, but his appeal too was allowed on the grounds of his safety on return.
The successful appeals prompted newly appointed Home Secretary Theresa May to say that “all possible measures” are now being taken to ensure the men do not engage in terrorist activity.
She said: “Protecting the public is the Government’s top priority. We are disappointed that the court has ruled that Abid Naseer and Ahmad Faraz Khan should not be deported to Pakistan, which we were seeking on national security grounds.
“As the court agreed, they are a security risk to the UK. We are now taking all possible measures to ensure they do not engage in terrorist activity.”
Two other Pakistani nationals arrested with Naseer and Faraz Khan – Tariq Ur Rehman, 39, and Abdul Wahab Khan, 27, who had returned to Pakistan – lost their appeal to return to the UK.
The Siac panel said it was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Wahab Khan was a committed “Islamist extremist” and that he and Rehman were “knowing participants” in Naseer’s plans.
One other man arrested in the raids, Shoaib Khan, 31, who had returned to Pakistan, won his appeal against deportation. The judge said the panel was satisfied he was not a “knowing party” to Naseer’s plans.
The judgment comes after hundreds of officers carried out raids in north-west England in April last year over an alleged bomb plot in which 12 men were arrested – including 10 Pakistani nationals on student visas and one Briton.
The raids were brought forward following a blunder by Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick. He accidentally showed secret documents with details of the plan to photographers outside Downing Street.
Mr Quick, then Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, later resigned saying he “deeply regretted” having jeopardised a major police operation.
All 12 suspects were released without charge with 11 of the men – all Pakistani nationals – transferred into the custody of the UK Borders Agency.