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9/11 - The Hidden Victims

IHRC Conference, 8 Sept 2002


On the anniversary of 9/11 the Islamic Human Rights Commission held a conference on the on-going persecution of Muslims with specific focus on the UK

Here we present some of the highlights. The full papers are available now for download from IHRC (see links below) and a video will shortly be released featuring the whole conference.


Conference Panel (left to right):
Wrongly imprisoned Sulayman Zain-ul-Abidin with solicitor Muddassar Arani,
Raza Kazim from IHRC, journalist Yvonne Ridley,
Ms Khan from IHRC, and Romana Majid from IHRC.


One year on since the attacks of September 11, the Muslim community in the UK continues to suffer the repercussions of the event. Dozens have been harassed by the security forces, and dozens more have been arrested, some being released whilst others have been detained. The Home Office has yet to publish figures on the number of arrests.

One year on, attempts have continued to be made to extradite ‘suspected terrorists’ to the USA and to prosecute so-called Islamic militants under various laws in the UK, including the terrorist legislations. Embarrassingly for the government, and unsurprisingly, all these attempts have failed.

One year on, the practice of internment has led to the violation of basic human rights of foreign nationals seeking refuge in this country. Despite the Special Immigrations Appeals Commission, the body hearing their appeals, deeming their detention unlawful, they continue to be detained under harsh conditions.

One year on, these incidents have reinforced the fears of the Muslim community that the war against terrorism is really a war against Muslims and Islam, that they have been targeted by the government in its bid to show something is being done. These are the hidden victims of September 11.



Prisoners Of UK Law
Experiences Of Harassment By The Police And Security Services
A Personal Account Of Arrest, Imprisonment and Acquittal
The Role Of The Media In Demonising Muslims
Question & Answer Session
Reports for Download





Prisoners Of UK Law

report by Sultana Tafadar (IHRC),
presented by Reza Kazim (IHRC)

A three part report by the IHRC on the indiscriminate targeting and mistreatment of Muslims in the UK by the security forces in the wake of September 11 was presented:

  1. Arrests and Harassment
  2. Collapsed Cases
  3. Detention

The full report is available for download below. Here we look briefly at part two - Collapsed Cases:

The USA sought to extradite from the UK an Algerian pilot, Lotfi Raissi. Had he been extradited he would most likely have been charged with conspiracy to murder and could have faced the death penalty.

He was discharged by Bow Street magistrate’s court in London on April 24 2002 after concluding there was not sufficient evidence to support allegations of terrorism and extradite him to the USA. His detention lasted seven months, five of which were spent in Belmarsh high security prison...

The US maintained that Raissi was the flight instructor of the hijacker of American Airline flight 77 into the Pentagon, Hani Hanjour...

Key evidence submitted by the USA was what it claimed was video footage of them both together. This claim, however, was dropped after Raissi’s lawyer clarified that the footage was in fact poor quality web-cam footage of Raissi with his cousin...

Another claim that Raissi called a suspected Al-Qaeda leader failed when it was discovered that Raissi was at the Paddington police station at the time he supposedly made the call.

Moreover, claims by the FBI that Raissi and Hanjour flew in the same aircraft on March 8, 1999 did not correspond with logbooks showing that Hanjour flew for 1.5 hours and Raissi flew for 1.7 hours...

Reza Kazim

The type of evidence put forward was weak and could have easily been clarified by the US authorities. The failure to do so by the US authorities, as well as the reliance of UK authorities basing arrests and detentions on such unsubstantiated accusations shows that the fight against terrorism is being conducted with total disregard for justice or the truth. The tragedies of September 11 are used to justify indiscriminate targeting of Muslims without any real evidence, and severely infringing their civil liberties and basic human rights.

Prisoners of UK Law - Collapsed Cases

Download (shift-click) lecture (real audio 9min 1Mb)




Experiences Of Harassment
By The Police And Security Services

by Sister Muddassar Arani, solicitor
Arani & Co. Solicitors & Advisor to IHRC

A moving short talk by an experienced solicitor who has taken on several human rights cases free of charge, defending Muslims against persecution by the security services. Solid advice here for the whole Muslim community to follow.

Since the 11 of September I've had to deal with a lot of cases where my clients have been harassed by MI5 and also the anti-terrorist branch. It is extremely unfortunate that we in this country we who are law abiding citizens are being harassed merely because we are Muslims and not for any other reason. I have had to deal with cases concerning sisters and brothers who have not done anything wrong or illegal in this country and yet who are being harassed by the government...

It is extremely unfortunate that the so called people who represent the general (Muslim) community or state that they represent the Muslim community in this country have not spoken up for the victims, the Muslim victims who are suffering in this country and are still doing so today...

I had anti-terrorist branch officers, not one, not two but three officers who came in to my room in my offices and stated to me that my client was innocent, that he had not committed any criminal offence, and that the police officers required assistance from him. After receiving legal advice, my client decided not to under go an interview under caution. What happened to this man? I'll tell you what happened to this man - the next day the police officers arrested him! Detained him for two days in police custody! And not to this day have I been provided with any evidence as to what situation has changed since the conversation the police officers had with me and the date of his arrest which took place in November.

We are in the process of applying for legal aid so that we can sue the police for the false arrest of this particular individual. But this sorry saga doesn't end there. My client came to see me recently and what is happening now - you would have thought that the police and MI5 would have left him alone, but no. They have approached him again on the street because they want evidence against certain individuals that they do not like in this country. That is a very sad state of affairs that is arising in this country. So this man who they don't have any evidence against, was released from the police because their was not even enough sufficient evidence to charge this individual is now being harassed by MI5. Why? If there was evidence against this individual he would have been arrested and charged and would have been tried by now. But this harassment doesn't stop there. Why not?

How much longer are us Muslim people going to carry on suffering for? Its becoming a joke! But he was not the only person who's being approached. I have other individuals whom the police would like to use as witnesses against other members of the community. So what are they going to do - divide and rule us - isn't that what they have been doing everywhere else? Isn't it about time that every single Muslim person united and started speaking up in one voice and stop letting people divide and rule us...    

Sister Muddassar Arani

Stop speaking up against each other - what you are doing is playing in to the hands of the government when you do that. You all have to stand as one - united. And if you stand as united you will be a stronger force, a voice that can be heard, a voice that can be respected and your views will be listened to, hopefully.

But if we carry on the way we are carrying on - basically speaking up against each other in the hope that we can appease the majority view - they will continue to divide us and rule over us. And we will not be able to fight for the basic fundamental rights that we as citizens of this country should be entitled to...

We as Muslims should learn that we do not have to become victims any longer, because if we don't this situation, the sad saga will continue.

There are a few brothers who have followed the advice that was given to them. They have suffered in the short term, but in the long term there have been benefits for them.

The situation where MI5 is concerned is quiet bad - what they do is they go to somebody A and try to get evidence against somebody B, go to B and try to get evidence against A. That is what they are doing in reality because there isn't any evidence though, so they want people to speak and try to incriminate somebody. Why?

MI5 have approached some of my clients and offered them a stay in this country if they will give evidence against other individuals. They have offered my client the right to stay in this country if they backbite on another Muslim person. That is a temptation indeed for certain people who want to stay in this country, but its a temptation which they have fought so far but some individuals may not be that strong. They may not know what their rights are and decide to succumb to their own needs...

Sister Muddassar Arani with her client Sulayman Zain-ul-Abidin
whom she successfully defended

Talking about the case of Sulayman Zain-ul-Abidin:

My client was not prosecuted because he was a terrorist.
My client was only prosecuted because he was a Muslim
and not for any other reason. It was not my client that was being tried, it was ISLAM that was being tried. Islam not terrorism. My client had to justify why he was following Islam. My client had to justify how much he practised Islam. Why? Aren't we all entitled to have our basic rights to follow our religious beliefs? But no he couldn't do that could he, because he was a Muslim...

... he ran a website from his home address, one person went on a training course - the same type of training course that is advertised by 125 different English companies. Why was he picked on - because he was the only Muslim person advertising the same training course.

We were in court - it was shambles. It wasn't my client on trial - it was the religion that was on trial. Fortunately we won that case, it wasn't just a victory for my client and myself - it was a victory for Islam in more ways then one.

Hopefully that will send out a message to the government that they cannot use Islam against individuals just because we are practising Muslims - that is what is happening - people are going to become too frightened to even practise their religious beliefs. That should not happen.

It is very important for us to all unite together and make sure that we assist everybody in our community and we assist the unfortunate victims who are suffering in Belmarsh Prison as we speak today.

"...we won that case, it wasn't just a victory for my client and myself
- it was a victory for Islam in more ways then one..."

Experiences Of Harassment
By The Police And Security Services

Download (shift-click) lecture (real audio 13min 1.6Mb)




A Personal Account Of Arrest,
Imprisonment and Acquittal

"When I was arrested
literally every single person in this hall was arrested..."

by Sulayman Zain-ul-Abidin

Sulayman Zain-ul-Abidin was wrongfully arrested under the Terrorism Act and spent ten months imprisoned in Belmarsh Prison before his trail and subsequent acquittal. The trail was a shambles, the facts at the trial clearly showed that had been targeted simply for being a Muslim rather than any evidence against him.

His arrest was politically motivated. Labour MP Andrew Dismore, a member of the arch-Zionist Labour Friends of Israel (a shadowy lobby group which does Israel’s bidding in the British Parliament) first reported Sulayman Zain-ul-Abidin to the police and pressed hard for them to prosecute. (further details)

In this short talk Sulayman Zain-ul-Abidin shares some hard hitting truths that Muslims need to hear, as well as talking about his imprisonment and trial.

Message to Muslims:

I embraced Islam in 1979. And when I embraced Islam I was fortunate enough, by the grace of Allah, to be in that period when Ayatullah Khomeini was saying "No East, No West, Islam is the Best". And the brothers who were of the Shia branch of Islam were being arrested, harassed, beaten up and nobody was giving a dam about them.

And there was us converts who used to demonstrate with them, go to their meetings and also fight with the baath party [Sadaams henchmen would target Islamist Iraqis and Iranians in the UK] that was being protected by a police force.

Now suddenly Sadaam has become a very bad person, back in 1979 when they encouraged him to attack an Islamic Revolution in Iran he was a great person. And the very people that supported him were none other than Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Now the coin is being turned and its the Sunni branch of Islam that is now the victims and lo and behold there is Tony Blair going to Al-Khoei Centre and saying that these are the government approved Muslims and we should be like them. Its a pity he didn't say this back in 1980 when the Islamic Revolution was on, so don't be fooled by the sweet talk, don't be fooled by this Muslim Council of Britain or the Muslim Parliament or so called scholar Dr Zaki Badawi. You've got to understand the nature of the beast, and the nature of the beast - we call these people in Islam munafaqeen - hypocrites, for that's what they are...

Now we've got to stand up together, forget about all this Shia Sunni nonsense - its what they want. If we look around this room, look at all the different brothers we've got here - together we are solid but if we look at this as an Arab mosque or a Shia mosque or a black mans mosque or this mosque then we'll never be together...

On imprisonment:

People ask me what is it like in Belmarsh prison, well I said as a black man and a Muslim there was not much difference when I was out of prison - its the same as in the prison...

On the trial:

...They took my religion out of context. Before I embraced Islam the priest used to say every Sunday take this bread all of you and eat it - this is the body of [Jesus] Isa (A.S), asthagfullah, and then he would say take this water and drink it - this is the blood of Isa (A.S.), asthagfullah. So if I was to act like they do and take the religion out of context I'd say look at these people they are promoting cannibalism. The word Jihad was such a trophy for them. Every person, they tried to get to come up and say Jihad only means holy war...

A Personal Account Of Arrest,
Imprisonment and Acquittal

Download (shift-click) lecture (real audio 19min 2.3Mb)




The Role Of The Media In Demonising Muslims

by Yvonne Ridley,
campaigning journalist

Yvonne Ridley, a freelance journalist and campaigner who hit the headlines when she was captured by the taliban in Afghanistan. In her talk Yvonne Ridley reflects on the portrayal of Muslims in the British media and its effects on British society.

...when you read about Islam in the media the words terrorism and fundamentalism are never far away, as a result the average Britain believes that most Muslims are fanatics. The media rarely identifies anyone by their religion unless they happen to be Muslims. When did you ever see the words Christian hooligans, Roman Catholic Basque separatists, Jewish Israeli soldiers or radical Methodists, I could go on. The media tends to use Muslim as an adjective to describe what it thinks are the bad guys...


Yvonne Ridley

The Role Of The Media In Demonising Muslims

Download (shift-click) lecture (real audio 19min 2.3Mb)




Question & Answer Session


Question on the tactics of MI5

Answer from Muddassar Arani:

Download (shift-click) lecture (real audio 3min 370Kb)


Answer from Yvonne Ridley:

... what Blunket, MI5, Special Branch, MI6 and any other government authority wants you to do is to shop on your neighbours. And it wont stop there, if you allow them to get away with this they will have your kids spying on you next.

Get this message through to your community leaders, some of who have the backbone of amoebas, and tell them to stand up and tell the police and the other authorities where to get off and get out.

Do not let them abuse and use your community like this and don't let your Muslim leaders, clerics, academics, whatever be seduced by the so called power at the gates of authority. Make your feeling quiet clear...


Question: Are journalists marginalised in the media if they start speaking for justice?

Answer from Yvonne Ridley:


Question on the need for more lawyers to help defend Muslims

Answer from Muddassar Arani:

Download (shift-click) lecture (real audio 90sec 188Kb)




Question on the vagueness of the anti-terrorist legislation - what are our rights?

Answer from Muddassar Arani:

Download (shift-click) lecture (real audio 100sec 205Kb)

A brief guide on what to do if you are approached by
British Intelligence and Security Services or arrested under
'Anti-Terrorist', or any other legislation.

"Know Your Rights" guide (85Kb)




Reports for Download (IHRC)


The Hidden Victims of September 11: Prisoners of UK Law
Sultana Tafadar overviews the use of anti-terrorist and other legislation against British Muslims in the last year.
IHRC (8 Sept 02)


The Hidden Victims of September 11: The Backlash Against Muslims in the UK
IHRC's updated report on the number and nature of anti-Muslim hate attacks in the UK in the wake of 9/11.
(8 Sept 02)


A Report to the IHRC on Detentions under the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001
Natalia Garcia of Tyndallwoods Solicitors looks at the infringement of human rights and civil liberties by the detentions under the UK's latest anti-terrorist legislation.
(8 Sept 02)