RICU Give Update on April 2009 Student Terror Arrests

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BY ALEXANDER MELEAGROU-HITCHENS

Readers may remember that back in April, counter terrorism officers arrested 12 students in the North West of England as part of Operation Pathway.  The government has now released an update about the arrests and subsequent detentions, which have caused much consternation among some British Muslims, who (in some cases justifiably) saw the arrests as another example of the increased suspicion and victimisation of Muslims in the UK.

As yet, none of those arrested have faced terrorism charges and within 14 days of the arrests, two were released from custody and ten, who were all Pakistani nationals, were handed over to immigration authorities for deportation after a failure to provide enough evidence to charge them.  A further two were released from immigration custody on the 17th of July after the Home Secretary deemed that they did not fulfil the criteria for deportation.

The remaining eight were all recommended for deportation because, according to today’s RICU announcement:

The Home Secretary decided, on the basis of advice from the police and UK Border Agency, that the individuals, here in the UK on student visas, should be deported to Pakistan on national security grounds.

Three of the eight voluntarily left the UK on August 21, leaving five more individuals in the custody of immigration authorities.  Today, RICU announced that two of the five who remain in custody have dropped their appeals against deportation and voluntarily left the UK yesterday.

The most interesting section of the RICU update covers a court decision on the eight individuals who were not released:

SIAC [Special Immigration Appeals Commission] has considered all the evidence and intelligence presented to them in these cases so far and decided that those individuals detained should not be released on bail and should remain in immigration custody pending their appeals against the decision to deport them and any further application for bail.

Many Islamist pressure groups, such as the increasingly hysterical iEngage, use stories such as this to stoke up tensions and imply that the UK and US governments are engaged in a programme to persecute Muslims.  Admittedly, this particular story has given them a lot of ammunition as there has not been enough of an effort to explain how and why 12 young Muslim men were arrested and detained without charge, with eight being recommended for deportation.  The above quote, however, shows that the security services provided enough information to the SIAC so as to convince the judges that eight of the 12 presented a threat to national security.  Although the students were released by the police, the SIAC did not allow these men to leave the custody of immigration authorities.

Today’s RICU announcement is a welcome attempt to counter Islamist propaganda about a war on Islam and Muslims which is, among other things, a useful recruitment tool for the more extreme elements of Islamism.  However, many will remain unconvinced of the merits of Operation Pathway until more concrete information is released proving the threat posed by the Pakistani students.

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