Category: Human Rights


Source

Court documents unearthed in the US reveal how senior detectives regularly carried out searches and enquiries on behalf of the FBI.

Metropolitan Police detectives agreed to nine separate requests from FBI agents to provide information on Babar Ahmad at a time when the case against the long-imprisoned terror suspect was collapsing because of a lack of evidence, The Independent can reveal.

Court documents unearthed in the United States reveal how senior detectives involved in the initial investigation of Mr Ahmad regularly carried out searches and enquiries on behalf of the FBI and even sent American agents two encrypted floppy disks that were found at the south Londoner’s home.

The data set, including the disks, forms part of a dossier of evidence that was sent across the Atlantic but was never seen by the Crown Prosecution Service which dropped the initial charges against Ahmad paving the way for is long battle against extradition to the United States.

Critics of Ahmad’s extradition say not enough was done to make sure that the 58-year-old was tried in a British court and that his prosecution has been effectively outsourced to the United States.

Both the Metropolitan Police and the Government have refused to be drawn on the exact nature of the cooperation between British and American detectives following Ahmad’s arrest in December 2003.

But documents filed in a Connecticut court reveal how multiple requests were made by an FBI agent under mutual legal assistance laws which allow foreign governments to ask British police to conduct investigations on their behalf.

The papers come from a trial four years ago in the city of New Haven in which Hassan Abu-Jihaad, a US navy sailor, was convicted of espionage charges. Abu-Jihaad, a convert to Islam, was found guilty of leaking classified ship movements to Azzam Publications – a series of pro-jihadi websites that American prosecutors allege was run by Babar Ahmad and another British man facing imminent extradition Syed Talha Ahsan. The alleged offences took place from late 2000 to late 2001.

At the trial Detective Sergeant Ian Vickers and Detective Sergeant Ian Elgeti, two Met Police officers involved in the original British investigation into Babar Ahmad, gave evidence. During his testimony DS Vickers stated that he was first alerted to the FBI’s interest in Ahmad in late December 2003, a few weeks after his arrest on 2 December. His first point of contact was special agent Craig Bowling, who spoke to him via teleconference and later made a trip to the UK around February 2004.

Asked to describe how the mutual legal assistance treaty system worked he explained that the United States needed to contact to Home Office and request help. “As a result of that,” he added, “If everything is correct and it’s being applied and asked for in the correct manner, then a letter of request goes through to a case officer, normally a detective, to make inquiries, seize exhibits on behalf of the United States.”

Asked how many times such requests were made he replied: “I think there were a total of nine”. He added: “I coordinated that and organized that myself.”

In the same testimony DS Vickers also confirmed that he personally oversaw the transfer of multiple exhibits to the United States including the floppy disks found on Babar Ahmad’s desk.

The decision by the Met Police to send evidence to detectives in the States has been both controversial and shrouded in secrecy. The Attorney General has refused to “confirm or deny” whether dossiers were passed abroad whilst the Metropolitan Police have declined to comment while Mr Ahmad is continuing to fight his extradition to the United States in the UK courts. Neither the Met Police nor the CPS were willing to comment on the new details uncovered in the American court documents when contacted by The Independent.

Mr Ahmad’s legal team had long argued that the CPS should have seen all the evidence against their client before deciding to drop the case. That decision not to press charges against Mr Ahmad was further complicated by the fact that he was viciously beaten by his arresting officers – an incident which the Metropolitan Police later admitted during civil proceedings.

It was only in November 2011 that the CPS admitted to Mr Ahmad’s legal team that they were never shown the entirely of all the evidence seized in the raid on their client’s house. After sending a team to the United States, Mr Ahmad’s lawyers forwarded a new dossier of evidence to the CPS in the spring of this year in the hopes that they might initiate a new prosecution that would keep him in Britain. At the same time a businessman from Newcastle who campaigns against Britain’s extradition laws tried to launch his own private prosecution of Mr Ahmad and Mr Ahsan. However the Director of Public Prosecutions has rejected both attempts citing a lack of evidence as the reason for his decision.

Green MP Caroline Lucas, who has campaigned for Babar Ahmad, called on the CPS and Met Police to provide a full account of the cooperation between American and British law enforcement following his arrest.

“Last year I exposed the fact that the CPS hadn’t even seen, let alone investigated properly, evidence against Babar Ahmad,” she said. “Now we have this extraordinary confirmation that, at a time when the CPS was arguing he couldn’t face trial in the UK because of an “absence of evidence”, British police were in thrall to the FBI and handing over that very evidence without even looking at it themselves. We urgently need to know who directed and authorised this scandalous circumvention of the CPS – and I reiterate my call for a full public inquiry into what has occurred.”

My thoughts on the hypocrisy of Babar Ahmads Case

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On the 24th September 2012 the European Court of Human Rights gave its final approval to legalise the extradition of Babar Ahmad and 4 others, under charges of terrorism, to the United States.

According to the BBC

“The US says that mr Ahmad and co-accused, Syed Talha Ahsan, ran a jihadist website in London that provided material support for terrorism”

The website in question, closed since 2002, was called Azzam.com which supported Chechen and Taliban fighters.

But when it comes to supporting groups like the Taliban, Azzam.com weren’t the only ones supporting the Taliban, The US has a history of supporting them too.

It is a known fact that during the soviet invasion of Afghanistan, The CIA were training the very fighters that would go on to form the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. In fact, some reports suggest that the CIA was in direct contact with Bin Laden. Mark Custis states in his book Secret Affairs: Britains Collusion with Radical Islam

“There is no evidence of direct British or US support to Bin Laden, but one CIA source has claimed that US emissaries met directly with Bin Laden and it was he who first suggested that the Mujahideen be supplied with Stinger Anti-Aircraft Missiles” pg 138

The United States continued its relationship with the Taliban after the soviets were defeated.

In 1997, according to the BBC News, a senior delegation from the Taliban were in Texas for talks with Unocal, an international energy company that wanted to construct a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to Pakistan.

In 2001 the Bush regime resumed the talks with the Taliban, arguing the Taliban to widen their government and include members of the Northern Alliance and look more favourably at the US company’s attempts to install the gas pipeline.

The Talibans refusal to work with the Northern Alliance stalled the talks which forced a response from a bush representative to the Taliban in the form of a military reprisal

This represents the hypocrisy of it all. That Babar Ahmad is being extradited to the US for administering a site that was supporting the very same group of people that the US were trying to do business deals with.

Currently Babar Ahmad is being extradited to the US, The Home Secretary Theresa May has stated that the Home Office is working diligently to extradite him and the rest as fast as possible.

For more information on the case of Babar Ahmad and to find out how to help, please click here

If you want to find out more about western connections to extremist Muslim groups please read Mark Curtis’s Secret Affairs: Britains Collusion with Radical Islam

Everyone has the right to protest and freedom of peaceful assembly, and it’s a right protected by Article 11 of the Human Rights Act. Closely linked to freedom of expression, the right to protest is as fundamental to democracy as the rule of law or a free press.

Article 11 protection applies to various events including demonstrations and protest marches, meetings, “sit-ins” and press conferences. It only protects peaceful gatherings and doesn’t cover deliberately violent protests.

 

The right to protest cannot be interfered with merely because people disagree with protesters’ views, or because a demonstration is inconvenient. Lots of actions by the authorities can amount to interference – preventing a demonstration, delaying a protest, disrupting a demonstration in advance and storing information on people’s political opinions and activities.

 

The State also has to take positive steps to facilitate the right to protest and protect participants. But this doesn’t always happen. For example, in recent years Liberty has been contacted by several different march organisers complaining the authorities have refused to help; instead telling them they need to pay for things like road closure orders and pricey insurance. Councils and police forces shouldn’t be dissuading people from exercising their right to protest by making it seem too difficult and expensive. Thankfully in the cases we’ve dealt with the authorities have backed down when we’ve reminded them of their Human Rights Act obligations.
Everyone also has the right to freedom of association with others under Article 11, including the right to form and join trade unions and other associations. Naturally, the right not to associate with others is also covered.

 

Like many, Article 11 is a qualified right and can be limited, but again only if the limitation is approved by law, necessary and proportionate and in pursuit of a legitimate aim such as national security or public safety.

 

With the Government’s cuts starting to bite, the right to protest is going to become a bigger issue than ever. It’s a crucial part of political life and it’s played a big part in securing many major changes, including the extension of voting rights. Before Article 11 there was no actual right to protest; it was only tolerated.

 

Yet still we see laws designed for anti-social behaviour and serious crime used against peaceful protesters. And now we’re told that Westminster Council is considering a byelaw to limit the right to protest around Parliament Square.
Such measures seeking to undermine the right to protest must be resisted. Westminster is the seat of our democracy, and the freedom to protest near parliament is of massive symbolic and practical importance. It allows people to influence decision-makers and take an active part in our democratic process between elections, and we must continue defending the Human Rights Act to ensure the freedom to protest remains intact

(Kabul) – President Barack Obama should halt plans by the US military to expand the Afghan Local Police program until significant reforms are made in training, supervision, and accountability, Human Rights Watch said today. On December 10, 2011, the commander of US Special Operations Command, Adm. William McRaven, suggested in a media briefing that the Afghan Local Police (ALP), locally based paramilitary units, would be increased from its current strength of 9,800 to more than 30,000.

A September 2011 Human Rights Watch report,“Just Don’t Call it a Militia: Impunity, Militias, and the ‘Afghan Local Police,’” detailed abuses by the ALP and various militias created or supported by the US since the defeat of Taliban rule in 2001. The report, while acknowledging that ALP units had contributed recently to improved security in some areas, documented serious abuses by ALP and other US-backed forces in several provinces, including looting, illegal detention, beatings, killings, sexual assault, and extortion. The report also described how the establishment of the ALP had inflamed ethnic tensions in some areas.

“The Afghan Local Police needs to be fixed before it can be expanded,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of rushing to triple the size of the Afghan Local Police, the US and Afghan governments should be adopting mechanisms to ensure these forces abide by the law.”

The Afghan government has not yet confirmed McRaven’s statement. When it approved the ALP program in 2010, the government set a target of 10,000 members.

In response to the Human Rights Watch report, the US military in October ordered an investigation into the alleged abuses. An unclassified summary of the results released on December 15 stated that the investigation substantiated in whole or in part many of Human Rights Watch’s allegations. The US military report also contained general findings, including:

 

  • “There is a need for increased awareness of what constitutes improper conduct.”
  • “ALP procedures do not specifically address policy or procedures to discipline or fire ALP members.”
  • There is “friction between ANP [Afghan National Police] and ALP units in the field.”

 

The report also includes recommendations that echo many of the key recommendations from the Human Rights Watch report.  These include:

 

  • “[I]ncrease emphasis on the understanding of local power dynamics when considering where to locate ALP operations, how to staff them, and how to evaluate them over time. In areas where the ALP location lies on a seam between rivals, employ additional assets to monitor and mentor the ALP.”
  • “[F]urther develop the ALP Program of Instruction (POI) to include definitions of human rights abuses and practical methods to prevent human rights violations.”
  • “[T]here is a need to clearly define force jurisdiction.”
  • “[T]he MOI [Ministry of Interior] should position a senior ANP to partner with CFSOCC-A [Coalition Forces Special Operations Command] elements to put a ‘local face’ on oversight and coordination. . . . This will allow for transparency of operations for ALP and an outlet for dispute resolution between ANP and ALP that is not Special Forces.”
  • “Procedures should be established that provide for follow up and rectification of wrongdoings by police. This should include an investigation unit.”
  • “[A]dd a section in the ALP procedures on discipline and firing of ALP members.”
  • “[C]ontinue to develop capacity for investigation of allegations of ALP or ANP abuses.”

 

“An investigation ordered by a senior US commander in the field has found numerous weaknesses in the Afghan Local Police program,” Adams said. “The priority should be to create mechanisms to ensure proper training, supervision, and accountability so that the Afghan Local Police does not become just another abusive militia.”

Since the Human Rights Watch report was issued in September, there have been new problems with the ALP.  Recent media reports documented a fatal armed clash between ALP and ANP in Baghlan Province in August.  Other violent clashes involving members of ALP units included an incident in Herat Province in which two people were killed. Human Rights Watch is also investigating numerous other new allegations, including new cases of assault, extortion, intimidation, and illegal taxation.

ALP units, which are established under the leadership of local commanders and often recruit members of a single ethnic or tribal background, have also exacerbated ethnic tensions in some parts of the country, triggering instability and local conflicts, Human Rights Watch said. In reports recently presented to the US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Norwegian Refugee Council both cited abuses by the ALP as a factor in a 51 percent increase in displacement of Afghans in the first 10 months of 2011 compared with the same time period in 2010.
Human Rights Watch

ALP units operate without proper oversight and lack effective mechanisms to investigate and respond to abuses, Human Rights Watch said. The review system to vet incoming ALP members and leaders relies on local leaders who can be vulnerable to intimidation and threats. As a result, units in some places are no more than the militias of local warlords, re-designated as ALP with the legitimacy of US support, including uniforms and pay.

The US and other countries should continue to focus on training regular Afghan military and police forces so they can provide security to the Afghan people, Human Rights Watch said.

Although the Afghan government’s original target for the ALP was 10,000, the Obama administration sought and received funding from the US Congress for a total of 30,000 ALP, the number now proposed by the US military. Human Rights Watch noted a recent World Bank report that raised concerns about the sustainability of Afghan security forces, which currently number over 300,000 and cost over US$8 billion annually. The World Bank report warned that costs for security forces at this level may endanger funding for education and healthcare.

“Now is the time for some long-term thinking,” Adams said. “What will happen when donors are unwilling to continue to pay the salaries of the Afghan Local Police and other security forces? What will be the consequences of tens of thousands of unemployed well-armed men in uniforms? What’s the plan?”