An Iraqi Muslim cleric suspected of being involved with Al Qaeda and radicalising young Britons has used the Human Rights Act to continue to live in the UK – despite Government efforts to deport him.
Taha Muhammad is regarded as one of Britain’s most dangerous security threats. He was even banned from studying AS-level chemistry because of fears he would use the knowledge to commit terrorist acts.
The decision to let him stay is another setback for Home Secretary Theresa May, already under pressure after attempts to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan descended into chaos.
But Muhammad says he cannot be deported to Iraq because he could be detained and tortured there.
He argues sending him back would be a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Judges at an immigration tribunal allowed him to stay even though the Home Office said they believed he:
- Had links to several terrorist groups including Al Qaeda.
- ‘Took part in both terrorist training and activities’ and had ‘considerable jihadi pedigree’.
- Maintained contacts with Islamist extremists in Britain and abroad.
- Provided support for the jihadist insurgency in Iraq.
- Expressed extremist views.
Muhammad also vowed to sue the Government over his treatment and is now poised to win a large compensation payout.
‘It’s a real issue for me because my constituents complain that the European Convention and Human Rights Act is a villains’ and terrorists’ charter and the position is simply unacceptable and needs to be resolved.’
Muhammad arrived in Britain in 2002 and applied for asylum after claiming Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party had accused him of being a member of the opposing Muslim Brotherhood, so had detained and tortured him.
The Home Office refused his application for asylum but he was granted exceptional leave to remain until March 2006.
While living as an imam and leading prayers at a mosque, he become one of MI5’s top terror suspects and in May 2006 was put under a control order.
The Government was so concerned about Muhammad that it made him the subject of a list of restrictions running to 15 pages.
Muhammad was given a curfew, limited to where he could go and banned from meeting a list of named individuals. He was also barred from attending his local mosque and leading prayers.
The Government also put a stop to his plans to study chemistry and human biology because it was thought he would use the knowledge gained to engage in terrorism.
His wife, Amin Bayan Star, 22, and their children are also allowed to remain here after immigration judges concluded their removal would breach their rights to a private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In a statement released through his solicitor, Muhammad said: ‘I have never done anything unlawful and I have been living a nightmare during the time I was subjected to the control order which was like living in a prison without bars.
‘Once the control order ended I believed my ordeal was at an end but the Home Office refused both my and my partners application for indefinite leave to remain and this threw my life and that of my family into turmoil and uncertainty again.
‘I hope and pray that the Home Office will leave me and my family alone.’
Control orders were introduced in March 2005 as a means of holding terror suspects who had not been charged or tried and where the evidence was largely sensitive and derived from intelligence sources.
In January of last year, following pressure from civil liberties campaigners, control orders were replaced with Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures, known as T-Pims, which have fewer controls but greater surveillance.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We take all necessary steps to protect the public from individuals we believe pose a threat and remove them from the UK.
‘But removal can be a challenging process and we have to operate within the law.’