Monday, July 16, 2012

Institutional Islamophobia

Rizwaan Sabir is a British student. In 2008, while studying for a Master's in International Relations on terrorism at the University of Nottingham, he downloaded an Al Qaeda "terrorist manual" from a US government website and forwarded it to a university administrator for printing. As a result, he was arrested and detained for six days under anti-terrorism legislation. No charges were ever laid - the work in question could be purchased from bookshops - and in 2011 Sabir was awarded £20,000 for his arrest and subsequent harassment.

Now it turns out that police involved in the "investigation" fabricated evidence to keep him in jail:

A Muslim university student was held for seven days without charge as a suspected terrorist after police "made up" evidence against him.

Documents from the professional standards unit of West Midlands police reveal that officers fabricated key elements of the case against former University of Nottingham student, Rizwaan Sabir.


Now, however, the results of the internal West Midlands police professional standards investigation into the affair following complaints by Thornton over the police's handing of the case is complete. It found that officers effectively invented what Thornton, the university's sole terrorism expert, told them about the al-Qaida training manual in a police interview.

During the interview Thornton said that he merely told police that Sabir was studying al-Qaida, but was never asked to discuss the manual. Thornton says that officers invented claims that he had concerns over the manual which he says are an apparent attempt to justify the arrest and police anti-terror operation, codenamed Minerva.

The findings of the force's standard's inquiry upheld Thornton's claim that officers "made up what he said about the al-Qaida manual."

It also states that the actual minutes of the Gold Group meeting of the detectives assigned to the case "incorrectly recorded" their conversation with Thornton.

But despite this finding, the West Midlands police have confirmed that no officers will be investigated for misconduct. The message is clear: fabricating evidence is just fine, provided the victim is a Muslim.