Babar Ahmad

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For the Anglo-American film director, see Babar Ahmed (director).
Babar Ahmad
Babar Ahmad after his release from prison in 2015
Born May 1974 (age 41)
London, England, United Kingdom
Residence London, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Ethnicity British Pakistani
Education MEng(Hons), University of London
Employer Formerly employed at Imperial College London
Known for Spent 11 years in prison. Extradited to US. Awarded compensation by London Metropolitan Police.
Home town London, United Kingdom
Religion Islam
Awards Awarded £60,000 compensation by London Metropolitan Police.

Babar Ahmad (born London, England, May 1974) is a British citizen and a Muslim of Pakistani descent, who was released after spending 11 years in prison in the US and Britain.[1] From prison, he fought a public 8-year legal battle, seeking to be tried in Britain. The British Crown Prosecution Service concluded that there was "insufficient evidence to prosecute" him.[2]

In 2009, the High Court in London awarded Ahmad £60,000 compensation after the London Metropolitan Police admitted that its officers had subjected him to "serious gratuitous prolonged unjustified violence" and "religious abuse" during his arrest[3] which led to 73 injuries.[4] It was revealed that the officers, who abused Ahmad were also accused of dozens of other assaults on black and Asian men.[5] The revelation lead the Mayor of London Boris Johnson to order an independent review of the case.[6] In 2010, the review led the Crown Prosecution Service to announce that four serving police officers would face criminal charges for assaulting Ahmad.[7] The four officers were acquitted by a jury in June 2011.[8] In October 2015, a London High Court of Justice judge ruled that PC Mark Jones, one of the officers acquitted in the Ahmad case, assaulted and racially abused two Arab teenage boys in another case.[9][10]

In 2011, celebrities and senior British lawyers backed a public campaign which led to 140,000 British citizens signing a UK Government e-petition calling for him to be tried in the UK.[11][12] His case was subsequently debated twice in the British Parliament.[13][14] Ahmad was extradited from Britain to the United States in 2012. After spending two years in solitary confinement at a US Supermax prison[15][16] he pleaded guilty to "conspiracy and providing material to support to terrorism".

In 2014, US federal Judge Janet Hall sentenced Ahmad to an unexpectedly lenient sentence.[17] and concluded that Ahmad was never interested in terrorism, stating, "There was never any aid given by these defendants to effectuate a plot. By plot, I mean a terrorist plot ... Neither of these two defendants were interested in what is commonly known as terrorism.."[18] She described Ahmad as a “good person” who she believed posed no threat to the public and stated she had weighed the seriousness of his crime with his good character after reading thousands of letters of support and hearing from British prison officials who described him as an exemplary inmate.[17] Judge Hall said “It appears to me that he [Babar] is a generous, thoughtful person who is funny and honest. He is well liked and humane and empathetic... This is a good person who does not and will not act in the future to harm other people."[19]

Early life and education[edit]

Babar Ahmad was born and brought up in Tooting, London.[20][21] His parents emigrated to Britain from Pakistan in the early 1960s. His father is a retired civil servant and his mother a retired science teacher.[17]

Ahmad was educated at Emanuel School, where he won academic prizes and obtained outstanding results at both GCSE and A-Level. He then went to university and obtained a master's degree in Engineering from the University of London in 1996.[22][23]

Before imprisonment[edit]

Ahmad fought on and off in the Bosnian War from 1992 until 1995.[24] Before his imprisonment in August 2004, Ahmad was working in the IT department at Imperial College, University of London.[25][26][27][28] At the time of his arrest, he lived in Tooting.[29] On 18 March 2009, the London Metropolitan Police agreed to pay Ahmad £60,000 in damages after admitting he was subjected to "violent assault and religious abuse" during the raid.[30][31]

US prosecution of Ahmad and extradition battle[edit]

Babar Ahmad was arrested in London on 5 August 2004 on charges of providing material support to terrorism. An affidavit filed with the US court detailed that Ahmad established Azzam.com, a website established in 1996 that later solicited support for Chechen insurgents and the Taliban regime in 2000/01. It further stated that items recovered from a house used by Ahmad included a floppy disk containing a detailed description of the movements of the US Fifth Fleet battlegroup. Ahmad was later indicted by a grand jury of US citizens in October 2004.[32] Another man, Syed Talha Ahsan, was indicted in 2006 of involvement with Ahmad and with the battlegroup information in the document.[33] In 2008, a US former navy seaman, Abu Jihad, was indicted and convicted of disclosing the classified information on the battlegroup but he was cleared of terrorism charges.[34] However, when sentencing Ahmad on 16 July 2014, federal district Judge Janet Hall ruled that "nothing was done with the information" found in Ahmad's possession so, "And that is that the Battle Group Document, besides showing that the Navy enlisted man was a traitor to his country, it also shows that Mr. Ahmad and Mr. Ahsan had absolutely no interest in operational terrorist actions that would harm the United States."[35]

US extradition documents state that "at all times material to the indictment" Babar Ahmad was resident in London. However, the UK Crown Prosecution Service declared in July 2004 and December 2006, as did the UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith in September 2006, that there was "insufficient evidence" to charge Ahmad with any criminal offence under UK law.[2][36]

Having been refused bail, Ahmad was detained in prison until his extradition on 5 October 2012. On 17 May 2005, Senior District Judge Timothy Workman approved his extradition at Bow Street Magistrates' Court, stating: "This is a troubling and difficult case. The defendant is a British citizen who is alleged to have committed offences which, if the evidence were available, could have been prosecuted in this country".[37]

In September 2005, Sadiq Khan, Member of Parliament for Tooting, presented a petition of 18,000 signatures to the Home Secretary Charles Clarke asking for Babar Ahmad to be tried in the UK, instead of being extradited.[38]

On 16 November 2005, Clarke approved his extradition to the United States.[39]

On 28 November 2005, the UK Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee raised serious concerns about the one-sided UK-US extradition arrangements and, in particular, the case of Babar Ahmad.

In a House of Commons emergency debate on 12 July 2006 about UK-US extradition, several MPs from all parties raised concerns at the case of Babar Ahmad. His name has also been mentioned repeatedly in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords in relation to UK-US extradition.[40] Thousands have attended demonstrations in support of him.[41]

On 30 November 2006, Ahmad lost his appeal at the High Court.[42] On 4 June 2007, the House of Lords refused to grant him leave to appeal to them.[43]

On 10 June 2007, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (France) ordered the UK Government to freeze Babar Ahmad’s extradition until they had fully determined his final appeal.

On the 8 July 2010, the European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe, at Strasbourg, imposed a temporary stay on the extradition of Ahmad et al. to the United States to face terrorism charges, until the Court was satisfied that he would not be liable or subject inhumane treatment.[44] The Court based its judgment on the European Convention on Human Rights, which is incorporated as the Human Rights Act 1998 in English and British law. In past cases, the ECtHR had ruled to prevent the United Kingdom and the British Government from deporting, extraditing or repatriating terrorism suspects to other countries, where they would be subject or liable to, or where there was a likelihood that they would be subject or liable to, torture, or to degrading or inhumane treatment.

In Babar Ahmad and Others v The United Kingdom the legal representatives of the litigants, argued that extradition to a country, where they might be imprisoned for life, with no possibility of release on parole, and where the penal regime is in comparison excessively harsh, amounted also to degrading or inhumane treatment, and that the extradition therefore ought to be refused.[45]

On 22 June 2011, the Houses of Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights urged the UK government to change the law so that Ahmad’s perpetual threat of extradition is ended without further delay.[46]

In November 2011, celebrities and senior British lawyers backed a public campaign which led to 140,000 British citizens signing a UK Government e-petition calling for him to be tried in the UK.[11][12] His case was subsequently debated twice in the British Parliament.[13][14]

On 10 April 2012, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (France) ruled that Ahmad could be extradited to the United States.[47]

On 24 April 2012, the BBC reported the testimony of a British man convicted of plotting to blow up an aircraft, from the trial of Adis Medunjanin in New York.[48] Saajid Badat alleged that he was radicalised by Babar Ahmad but when sentencing Ahmad in July 2012, Judge Janet Hall ruled, "As to whether he [Mr Ahmad] radicalized anyone, I don't understand that. I think that the only person radicalized in this case is the cooperating witness. It's pretty clear to me that Mr. Ahmad is not responsible for radicalizing him. He may have played a role in getting the cooperating witness to go to Afghanistan to get training, but even the cooperating witness acknowledges that, unlike what Mr. Ahmad wanted him to do, which was to return to England to complete his education, he turned away from that and was, in fact, radicalized by Khaled Sheikh Mohammed and Osama bin Laden whom he met in Afghanistan."[49]

Ahmad was extradited from Britain to the United States on 5 October 2012. The removal process took place on the evening, when Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan were taken from HM Prison Long Lartin, to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, which is used by the US Air Force, from where he was placed into the physical custody of the awaiting United States officials. Three other terror suspects in unrelated cases were also extradited at the same time. Ahmad later stated that he was "blindfolded, shackled and forcibly stripped naked" during his extradition.[18] He landed in Connecticut on the morning of the 6 October.[50]

After spending two years in solitary confinement at a US Supermax prison[15][16] he pleaded guilty to "conspiracy and providing material to support to terrorism".

In 2014, US federal Judge Janet Hall sentenced Ahmad to an unexpectedly lenient sentence of 12.5 years.[17] and concluded that Ahmad was never interested in terrorism, stating, "There was never any aid given by these defendants to effectuate a plot. By plot, I mean a terrorist plot ... Neither of these two defendants were interested in what is commonly known as terrorism.."[18] She described Ahmad as a “good person” who she believed posed no threat to the public and stated she had weighed the seriousness of his crime with his good character after reading thousands of letters of support and hearing from British prison officials who described him as an exemplary inmate.[17] Judge Hall said “It appears to me that he [Babar] is a generous, thoughtful person who is funny and honest. He is well liked and humane and empathetic... This is a good person who does not and will not act in the future to harm other people."[19]

In July 2015, Ahmad was released from prison in the US and returned to the UK. Upon his release he stated, "Eleven years of solitary confinement and isolation in ten different prisons has been an experience too profound to sum up in a few words here and now... In October 2012, I was blindfolded, shackled and forcibly stripped naked when I was extradited to the US." He added that "US and UK government officials" had treated him with respect after his release.[18]

Police abuse case[edit]

Babar Ahmad was first arrested at his Tooting home on 2 December 2003 by UK anti-terrorist police of 1 Unit 1 Area Territorial Support Group based at the high security Paddington Green Police Station. By the time he arrived in the custody suite of the police station, he had sustained at least 73 injuries, all later documented by both police and independent doctors, as well as in photographic and video evidence.[36]

He filed a formal complaint that was supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). He complained that officers had beaten him with fists and knees, stamped on his bare feet with boots, rubbed metal handcuffs on his forearm bones, sexually abused him, mocked the Islamic faith by placing him into the Muslim prayer position and taunting, "Where is your God now?", and applied life-threatening neck holds to him until he felt he was about to die. Officers denied the claims, saying Ahmad had battled like a "caged tiger" during his arrest, adding his injuries were either self-inflicted or caused by a legal tackle that took him to the ground when he was first detained.[51]

On 10 September 2004, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that there was "insufficient evidence" to prosecute any of the police officers involved in the attack. However, on 17 January 2005 the IPCC declared that PC Roderick James-Bowen (born 1971) would face internal police disciplinary procedures over the alleged assault.

On 13 April 2005 PC James-Bowen was cleared at a Police Misconduct Tribunal held at Woolwich Crown Court. Metropolitan Police Commander Andre Baker, the President of the Tribunal, stated that PC James-Bowen should be "commended, not castigated... for his great bravery" in arresting Ahmad.[52]

On 18 March 2009, Babar Ahmad was awarded £60,000 compensation at the High Court in London after the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson admitted that he had been the victim of a "serious, gratuitous and prolonged attack".[citation needed]

On 26 March 2009, Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced an inquiry into the Babar Ahmad case with external judicial oversight by retired judge Sir Geoffrey Grigson, to report back to the Metropolitan Police Authority.[53][54]-

On 3 November 2009, following his acquittal in a separate racial abuse trial, 42-year-old PC Mark Jones of 1 Area TSG was named as being involved with the attack on Babar Ahmad.[55][56] The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, announced that he was taking the case "very seriously" while considering whether to prosecute PC Jones and the other officers involved in the alleged assault on Babar Ahmad.[57]

In August 2010 it was announced that Police Constables Nigel Cowley, John Donohue, Roderick James-Bowen and Mark Jones would be prosecuted for their part in the alleged assault on Babar Ahmad.[58] The trial began on Tuesday, 3 May 2011, at Southwark Crown Court, London.[59] On 3 June 2011 they were found not guilty.[8] In October 2015, a London High Court of Justice judge ruled that PC Mark Jones, one of the officers acquitted in the Babar Ahmad case, assaulted and racially abused two Arab teenage boys in another case.[60][61]

Monitoring of MP visit to Ahmad[edit]

On 3 February 2008, the Sunday Times newspaper reported in 2008 that UK anti-terrorist police had covertly bugged prison visits between Babar Ahmad and his local MP, Sadiq Khan, Member of Parliament for Tooting. The bugged conversations took place at Woodhill Prison in May 2005 and June 2006.

This information was reportedly leaked to the press by Detective Constable Mark Kearney, the police intelligence officer who conducted the covert surveillance of the visits, in alleged contravention of the Wilson Doctrine that banned Government surveillance of politicians in 1966.[62]

Following widespread international media coverage of the revelation, the previous Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw MP, announced in Parliament the day after the article was published that he had asked a retired High Court judge, Sir Christopher Rose, to conduct an official inquiry into the affair.[63]

The Rose Inquiry reported back to the House of Commons later in February 2008, stating that the police had done nothing wrong, causing some commentators to dismiss the report as a whitewash.[64][65]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "First Statement of Babar Ahmad Upon Release from US Prison". Freebabarahmad.com. 19 Jul 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Case update on the extradition of Babar Ahmad". Crown Prosecution Service. 6 Aug 2012. 
  3. ^ "£60,000 awarded to terror suspect". BBC News. 18 Mar 2009. 
  4. ^ Victoria Brittain (18 Mar 2009). "Stunning victory for Babar Ahmad". The Guardian. 
  5. ^ "Police officers in abuse case accused of 60 other assaults". The Guardian. 21 Mar 2009. 
  6. ^ "Paul Stephenson pressured by the MPA". The Guardian. 26 Mar 2009. 
  7. ^ "Policemen to face trial for alleged assault on terror suspect Babar Ahmad". The Guardian. 12 Aug 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Fiona Murphy (5 Jun 2011). "Babar Ahmad's principled stand shames the IPCC". The Guardian. 
  9. ^ "Met Police pay men over racism in 2007 arrest". BBC News. 2 Oct 2015. 
  10. ^ "High Court Judge Finds Met Police Officers Racially Abused and Attacked Teenagers" (PDF). Bhatt Murphy Solicitors. 2 Oct 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "Babar Ahmad parliamentary e-petition hits 100,000". BBC News. 3 Nov 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "Terror suspect Babar Ahmad's e-petition to be debated". BBC News. 24 Nov 2011. 
  13. ^ a b "Hansard transcript of House of Commons debate on extradition". HM Government. 24 Nov 2011. 
  14. ^ a b "Hansard transcript of House of Commons debate on extradition". HM Government. 5 Dec 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Sadbh Walshe (8 Nov 2012). "Britain's double standard on extradition to US prison abuse". The Guardian. 
  16. ^ a b Hamja Ahsan (20 Jul 2015). "Exposing supermax prisons: what Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad endured". Cage UK. 
  17. ^ a b c d e "Babar Ahmad sentenced to 12.5 years for supporting Islamic terrorists". The Telegraph. 16 Jul 2014. 
  18. ^ a b c d "UK terror suspect Babar Ahmad returns home from US". Al Jazeera News. 19 Jul 2015. 
  19. ^ a b "Babar Ahmad comes home". SACC. 19 Jul 2015. 
  20. ^ "Official Court Sentencing Transcript of United States vs Babar Ahmad, US District Court, District of Connecticut 3:04CR301(JCH)" (PDF). 16 Jul 2014. 
  21. ^ Mehdi Hasan (6 Nov 2011). "Is it justice to lock up Babar Ahmad so long without trial?". The Guardian. 
  22. ^ "Official Court Sentencing Transcript of United States vs Babar Ahmad, US District Court, District of Connecticut 3:04CR301(JCH)" (PDF). 16 Jul 2014. 
  23. ^ Babar Ahmad (13 Dec 2010). "Home Office Extradition Review 2010/11: Submissions by Babar Ahmad" (PDF). 
  24. ^ "Official Court Sentencing Transcript of United States vs Babar Ahmad, US District Court, District of Connecticut 3:04CR301(JCH)" (PDF). 16 Jul 2014. 
  25. ^ "The battle to prosecute Babar Ahmad". BBC News. 5 April 2012. 
  26. ^ Gardham, Duncan (5 February 2008). "Babar Ahmad: the bugging case terror suspect". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  27. ^ http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/311.pdf
  28. ^ Babar Ahmad (4 Oct 2012). "My unjust extradition, after eight years in detention without charge". The Guardian. 
  29. ^ "Who is Babar Ahmad?". Freebabarahmad.com. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  30. ^ Rachel Williams (18 Mar 2009). "Metropolitan police pays Muslim man £60,000 damages over 'serious attack'". the Guardian. 
  31. ^ Muhammad Abdul Bari (12 Apr 2012). "Babar Ahmad case tramples on law and fair play". 
  32. ^ "Affidavit in Support of Request for Extradition of Babar Ahmad" (PDF). US Department of Justice. Sep 2004. 
  33. ^ ABC News (20 July 2006). "Connecticut Terror Case: U.K. Suspect Charged in U.S. Warship Plot". ABC News. 
  34. ^ "Key Terror Conviction Against Ex-Sailor Tossed". NBC News. 4 Mar 2009. 
  35. ^ "Official Court Sentencing Transcript of United States vs Babar Ahmad, US District Court, District of Connecticut 3:04CR301(JCH)" (PDF). 16 Jul 2014. 
  36. ^ a b "Free Babar Ahmad : The Official Campaign Site to Put Babar Ahmad on Trial in the UK". Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  37. ^ "Terror suspect facing extradition". BBC News. 17 May 2005. 
  38. ^ Bremner, Charles. "Police bugged Muslim MP Sadiq Khan - The Sunday Times, 03/02/08". The Times (London). 
  39. ^ Pallister, David (17 November 2005). "Clarke under fire as Briton is sent to US on terror charges". The Guardian (London). 
  40. ^ "Hansard transcript of emergency House of Commons debate on extradition". 12 Jul 2006. 
  41. ^ "The battle to banish Babar Ahmad". BBC News. 16 November 2005. 
  42. ^ "UK pair lose US extradition fight". BBC News. 30 November 2006. 
  43. ^ Suspect Faces Extradition - Andrew Westbrook, The Asian Image, 14/06/07
  44. ^ Dodd, Vikram (8 July 2010). "Abu Hamza extradition to US blocked by European court". The Guardian (London). 
  45. ^ "Yemen seeks Abu Hamza's extradition.(UPI Top Stories)". UPI News. 29 May 2004. 
  46. ^ "The Human Rights Implications of UK Extradition Policy". HM Government Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights. 22 Jun 2011. 
  47. ^ "Babar Ahmad and Others v. The United Kingdom". The European Court of Human rights. 10 Apr 2012. 
  48. ^ "US court hears Bin Laden testimony from UK bomb plotter". BBC News. 24 Apr 2012. 
  49. ^ "Official Court Sentencing Transcript of United States vs Babar Ahmad, US District Court, District of Connecticut 3:04CR301(JCH)" (PDF). 16 Jul 2014. 
  50. ^ "Abu Hamza among five terror suspects extradited to USA". BBC News. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  51. ^ "Police not guilty of violent assault on terror suspect". The Guardian. 3 Jun 2011. 
  52. ^ "Independent Police Complaints Commission". Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  53. ^ MPA full Authority discussion of Babar Ahmad case - Metropolitan Police Authority, March 2009
  54. ^ "BBC NEWS - UK - Police chief demands raid inquiry". BBC News. 18 March 2009. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  55. ^ "PC cleared of race attack was involved in assault on Muslim", Steve Bird, The Times, 4 November 2009
  56. ^ Paul Lewis (9 November 2009). "Met police may face charges over violent arrest of terror suspect". the Guardian (London). Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  57. ^ "Cops should face criminal charges following Tooting man's assault, family say", Paul Cahalan, Wandsworth Guardian, 13 November 2009
  58. ^ Taylor, Matthew (12 August 2010). "Policemen to face trial for alleged assault on terror suspect Babar Ahmad". The Guardian (London). 
  59. ^ "Police officers 'attacked' terror suspect Babar Ahmad". BBC News. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  60. ^ "Met Police pay men over racism in 2007 arrest". BBC News. 2 Oct 2015. 
  61. ^ "High Court Judge Finds Met Police Officers Racially Abused and Attacked Teenagers" (PDF). Bhatt Murphy Solicitors. 2 Oct 2015. 
  62. ^ "Whistleblower detective 'warned again and again that bug was wrong'", Stephen Wright and Neil Sears, Daily Mail, 6 February 2008
  63. ^ "BBC NEWS - UK - UK Politics - Khan welcomes 'bugging' inquiry". BBC News. 3 February 2008. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  64. ^ Report on Two Visits by Sadiq Khan MP to Babar Ahmad at HM Prison Woodhill, Report of Investigation by the Rt Hon Sir Christopher Rose, Chief Surveillance Commissioner, February 2008
  65. ^ Why was whistleblower in bugging of Muslim MP scandal not quizzed during inquiry? - Benedict Brogan, The Daily Mail, 21 February 2008

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