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Terror charges against UK Qaida 'ally'
A British man suspected of links with the al-Qaida network has been charged with activity related to terrorism, police have confirmed.
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2003 20:25 GMT
Police have carried out a number of raids across the UK
A British man suspected of links with the al-Qaida network has been charged with activity related to terrorism, police have confirmed.

The 24 year old man was arrested in an anti-terrorism operation across several towns and cities in the UK over the past week. Police have confirmed that 20 people in total were arrested in the raids.

Sajid Badat, 24, who was arrested at his home in Gloucester last week, has also been charged with possessing explosives.

Police say they have Badat also faces counts of conspiring to carry out bomb attacks with convicted "shoe bomber" Richard Reid in Britain or elsewhere in the world.

Reid, who is British, was jailed for life in January in the United States after admitting trying to blow up a transatlantic airliner using explosives hidden in his shoe.

Reaction

Muslims in Gloucester have reacted with anger to national and local media coverage of Badat's case arguing that inflammatory coverage will prejudice any future trial and will also increase Islamaphobic incidents against the community and create tension between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Gloucester's Muslim community consists of 2,500 people, mostly of Indian Gujurati heritage. Muslims settled in the region around forty years ago, with second and third generation Muslims living with elders from the Indian subcontinent.

'It's disgraceful that people are in fear of their own safety, once again a whole group of people are being victimised'

Massoud Shadjareh, Islamic Human Rights Commission

"We don't even know if this man is guilty, but it seems that sections of the British press and prominent politicians have already decided that this man is guilty, and that's before he has stepped anywhere near a court room", says Massoud Shadjareh from the London based Islamic Human Rights Commission.

"I have received many calls from Muslims living in Gloucester who are worried about the situation and are fearful of a possible backlash against themselves and their families.

"It's disgraceful that people are in fear of their own safety, and once again a whole group of people are being victimised".

Alert

Britain has been on its second highest security alert for two weeks after intelligence officials said they had information an attack was planned, without specifying any target.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, speaking at his monthly news conference, played up the danger and stressed the very grave threat that Britons were under and urged vigilance.

"There's no doubt there is a threat because these people are operating in most parts of world and they have no compunction about taking the lives of innocent people," he said.

According to the London’s Metropolitan police, 250 Britons have so far been arrested under anti-terrorism laws and 70 charged.

But when contacted by Aljazeera.net, police could not provide information as to how many people had been successfully convicted.

Meanwhile Home Secretary David Blunkett has been rapped over comments that he made on radio following the Badat's arrest, which could prejudice his trial. Attorney general Lord Goldsmith has been asked to look into Blunketts comments and decide if he has a case to answer to.

Source:
Aljazeera + Agencies
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