inspired prosecution of British Muslim flops
IslamOnline & Ummahnews
9 August 2002
The first Muslim to be tried under Britain's sweeping terrorism
laws following September 11 was cleared Friday, August 9, 2002,
of offering weapons training over the Internet.
The acquittal of Sulayman Zain-ul-abidin, 44, who embraced Islam
in 1979, is seen as a setback for British attempts to crack down
on people it allegedly suspects were linked to the devastating attacks
on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Zain-ul-abidin was charged under the Terrorism Act - a law strongly
condemned as draconian and unjust by Muslim groups and human rights
activists - of setting up an Internet site offering paramilitary
training in the United States and of recruiting terrorists, reported
Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The native Londoner left the Old Bailey criminal court with his
lawyer shortly after jurors, who deliberated for five days, handed
down their verdict.
He smiled but refused to speak to the press as he left by taxi.
"He has nothing now, yet he is a totally innocent man,"
said lawyer Muddassar Arani, who added that it was too early to
say whether her client would consider suing for false arrest.
Prosecutors alleged that his Internet site, called the Ultimate
Jihad Challenge and offering two-week courses in the U.S. for 3,000
pounds (4,570 dollars), was launched to "assist or prepare
They also alleged that police found a laptop in a locker belonging
to Zain-ul-abidin containing articles about Osama bin Laden and
al-Qaeda, who are blamed by Washington for allegedly carrying out
the September 11 attacks.
However, Zain-ul-abidin, a chef at a London medical school, defended
himself by arguing that he was prosecuted as a "trophy"
He said in court, "September 11 happened and they have got
to show the public they are fighting Islamic terrorism.
"It's a joke - the bottom line is that if September 11 never
happened I wouldn't be standing here and trying to justify trying
to make a business.
"I'm their trophy, I'm their prize. They have got to convict
me," he said.
He said he was merely running a legitimate security service and
that the only person who took a course in the past two years was
a London supermarket security guard.
Zain-ul-abidin was arrested three weeks after September 11 and
two weeks after going to a London police station to complain he
did not feel safe following a newspaper article outlining his activities.
A police spokesman said anti-terrorist investigators believed the
prosecution's case was "properly brought to the court (and)
But Labour MP Andrew Dismore called the outcome "very disappointing".
Dismore is a member of the arch-Zionist Labour Friends of Israel,
a shadowy lobby group which does Israels bidding in the British
Parliament. He reported Zain-ul-Abidin to the police and pressed
hard for them to prosecute.
"I have been following the activities (of the Ultimate Jihad
Challenge) for getting on three years now and certainly from their
website there was, I thought, quite substantial evidence,"
he said. The British Board of Jewish Deputies, which acts as a mouthpiece
for the Israeli government, also expressed disappointment over the
result saying it would send the wrong signal to terrorists.
However, John Wadham, director of human rights organization Liberty,
said his group was opposed to people being trained in the use of
lethal weapons. "But the fact remains that offering such training
in the USA is legal," he stressed.
"Since September 11, draconian anti-terrorism powers have
been used to justify a string of high-profile arrests of people
found to have done nothing wrong," he said.
"It's a real problem both for the integrity of our criminal
justice system and for the confidence of Britain's Muslims, who
have been the target of most of these arrests."