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We're being persecuted, says Mosque chairman; TERROR ON THE STREETS EX-BAY PRISONER DENIES THE 'BEHEADING PLOT' EXISTS.

Byline: BY AMARDEEP BASSEY

EMOTIONS were running high among Birmingham's Muslim community last night as the media descended on the city to report on yet another terror plot.

Such was the anger felt by some community leaders that the chairman of the city's Central Mosque, Dr Mohammed Naseem, was moved to accuse the government of deliberately 'persecuting' his community.

On the streets of Sparkbrook and Alum Rock, young Muslims denounced the raids and spoke of a Government plot to distract the media from political turmoils.

"It's easy to accuse Muslims of being involved in terrorism but very difficult to get rid of the stigma even if you have been cleared," said one Muslim student.

"The media is very quick to report unsubstantiated rumours about individuals and they are helped along their way by deliberate leaking of information by the police."

According to MI5 chief Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the security services are currently investigating more than 30 Islamic terror plots, with more than half originating in the Birmingham area.

And across the country more than 1,000 suspects are under surveillance using sophisticated eavesdropping equipment, fibre optics and heat-seeking imagers.

Last year, Home Secretary John Reid revealed how the country's first al-Qaida plot had been uncovered in Birmingham in 2000.

But he failed to mention the fact that in jailing Moinul Abedin for life for plotting a bombing campaign, the judge said there was "no evidence to suggest the defendant belongs to any terror organisation."

Latest figures on the number of terror arrests across the UK since 9/11 show that police have detained more than 1,100 people under the Terrorism Act 2000. Yet only 38 of those detained have been convicted of any terrorist offences.

In the Midlands area alone, more than 70 people have been detained under the act - but just three have been convicted of terrorist offences.

One Birmingham Muslim who was detained for two days before being released, told the Sunday Mercury how he had to beg to be interrogated by the security services.

Mr Idris Haris, who ran two Islamic bookstores which were raided, recalled: "It was all very frightening.

"The police kept me locked up but refused to question me in an effort to disorientate my thinking.

"I had to keep asking to be interviewed but they kept stalling.

"When they finally got round to it they were just fishing for information."

amardeep_bassey@mrn.co.uk

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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Feb 4, 2007
Words:410
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