Britain moves to deport poison plot terror suspects as 'threat to national security'
September 15, 2005
Seven Men Detained in Britain As Threats
By ROBERT BARR
Associated Press Writer
LONDON (AP) - Britain served deportation orders Thursday on seven men who were detained as threats to national security, including some accused of a terrorist plot to spread the poison ricin.
The Home Office confirmed that the men were detained in London and Manchester. They were being held under the government's powers to deport people "whose presence in the U.K. is not conducive to the public good for reasons of national security," the Home Office said in a statement.
Officials declined to disclose the names or nationalities of the seven.
A senior government official, however, confirmed to The Associated Press that some of those detained had been previously charged with participating in a terrorist plot involving the poison ricin.
Four Algerians were acquitted in that case in April, and prosecutors dropped charges against three other Algerians and a Libyan. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, declined to discuss how many of Thursday's detainees had been acquitted in the ricin case or their nationalities.
The Home Office declined to say what had prompted Thursday's sweep. However, in recent months the government has been trying to reach agreements with several countries, including Libya and Algeria, guaranteeing that detainees would not be tortured or mistreated if deported there.
The only man convicted in the ricin case, Algerian Kamel Bourgass, is in prison serving a life sentence for murdering a police officer. He was also sentenced to 17 years for conspiracy.
Gareth Peirce, an attorney who represented some of the ricin defendants, was unavailable for comment, her office said.
The senior official stressed the men had been detained under the 1971 Immigration Act, not under the new powers introduced last month to deport radical Islamic preachers and others who incite or glorify terrorism. The official said the men were not Islamic clerics.
Police said they found recipes for ricin, cyanide and botulinum, and the blueprint for a bomb, when they raided an apartment in London two years ago.
Ricin is derived from the castor bean plant and is one of the world's deadliest toxins. It has been linked in the past to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network and Iraq. It has no known vaccine or antidote and kills cells by preventing them from making proteins.
The individuals will be held in prison pending deportation proceedings, the Home Office said.
Earlier in August, Britain detained 10 foreign residents, who included Omar Mahmoud Othman Abu Omar, also know as Abu Qatada - a radical Muslim preacher previously described by Spanish officials as bin Laden's "spiritual ambassador in Europe."
Britain also barred another radical Muslim cleric, Omar Bakri Mohammed, from returning to the country.
The crackdown followed the July 7 bombings that killed 52 bus and subway passengers and four suicide bombers in London, and the failed attacks two weeks later.
The Home Office said the detainees had five working days to appeal against deportation - a process that could drag on for months.
As a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, Britain is not allowed to deport people to countries where they may face torture or mistreatment. Britain has been trying to sign agreements guaranteeing humane treatment of deportees with 10 countries, including Algeria, Lebanon, Egypt and Tunisia. The first such memorandum was signed with Jordan last month.
Associated Press reporter Ed Johnson in London contributed to this report.
Terror swoop as new laws take hold
NEW LAWS: Charles Clarke.
POLICE and immigration officers swooped in Manchester and London today to deport foreigners considered a threat to national security.
The operation to detain a total of seven people came shortly before Home Secretary Charles Clarke revealed tough new anti-terror laws.
Immigration officials supported by Greater Manchester Police officers detained one man in Manchester. Another six were held in the capital.
It is believed one of those detained was present when GMP detective Stephen Oake was stabbed to death by terror mastermind Kamel Bourgass in a flat in Crumpsall in 2003.
Bourgass was jailed for life for the murder of Det Con Oake and, in a separate trial in April, found guilty of conspiring to cause a public nuisance through the use of poisons and explosives.
Sources also indicated that some of those detained were among Bourgass's eight co-defendants acquitted in the Ricin trial at the Old Bailey in April.
It was one of the first operations mounted since the government issued clearer definitions last month of what kind behaviour was considered unacceptable of foreign nationals staying in Britain, for instance supporting or inciting terrorism. It is the first such operation mounted in Manchester under the new rules.
On August 24, Home Secretary Charles Clarke published a list of unacceptable behaviour calculated to "foment, justify or glorify" terrorism.
The new definitions clarified the Immigration Act 1971 which gave the authorities the power to conduct this morning's raids.
The detainees were taken to prison awaiting deportation to their homelands.
A Home Office spokesperson said: "The Immigration Act 1971 gives powers to deport individuals, and to detain them pending deportation - the Immigration Service has detained the seven foreign nationals on this basis.
"They will be held in secure prison accommodation and we will not disclose their names."
A spokeswoman for Greater Manchester Police said: "The GMP operation was to allow the Immigration Service to safely carry out a Home Office deportation order on one man who has now been detained."
Meanwhile, tough new anti-terror measures were being set out in detail by the government today. They will allow police and security chiefs to detain terror suspects for longer than the current 14 days without charge.
Police say they need more than two weeks as they assemble a case out of complex computer, CCTV and forensic evidence, but the civil rights group Liberty attacked the move, being announced by the Home Secretary as "a new British internment".
The Home Secretary has been meeting the leaders of the other political parties in an effort to get cross-party agreement so that the tough new laws can be rushed through parliament in the wake of the London bombings in July.
There may be moves to allow phone-tap evidence to be used in court, as in much of the rest of Europe.
And an offence of giving or receiving terrorist training is also likely to be debated.
Today's measures are to be part of a Counter Terrorism Bill.
It is unusual to publish clauses of a Bill before it is published in full, but this is to allow consultation with the opposition parties.