By Robert Verkaik , Law Editor
The men claim they were given a choice of working for the Security Service or face detention and harassment in the UK and overseas.
They have made official complaints to the police, to the body which oversees the work of the Security Service and to their local MP Frank Dobson. Now they have decided to speak publicly about their experiences in the hope that publicity will stop similar tactics being used in the future.
Intelligence gathered by informers is crucial to stopping further terror outrages, but the men’s allegations raise concerns about the coercion of young Muslim men by the Security Service and the damage this does to the gathering of information in the future.
Three of the men say they were detained at foreign airports on the orders of MI5 after leaving Britain on family holidays last year.
After they were sent back to the UK, they were interviewed by MI5 officers who, they say, falsely accused them of links to Islamic extremism. On each occasion the agents said they would lift the travel restrictions and threat of detention in return for their co-operation. When the men refused some of them received what they say were intimidating phone calls and threats.
Two other Muslim men say they were approached by MI5 at their homes after police officers posed as postmen. Each of the five men, aged between 19 and 25, was warned that if he did not help the security services he would be considered a terror suspect. A sixth man was held by MI5 for three hours after returning from his honeymoon in Saudi Arabia. He too claims he was threatened with travel restrictions if he tried to leave the UK.
An agent who gave her name as Katherine is alleged to have made direct threats to Adydarus Elmi, a 25-year-old cinema worker from north London. In one telephone call she rang him at 7am to congratulate him on the birth of his baby girl. His wife was still seven months’ pregnant and the couple had expressly told the hospital that they did not want to know the sex of their child.
Mr Elmi further alleges: “Katherine tried to threaten me by saying, and it still runs through my mind now: ‘Remember, this won’t be the last time we ever meet.’ And then during our last conversation she explained: ‘If you do not want anything to happen to your family you will co-operate.'”
Madhi Hashi, a 19-year-old care worker from Camden, claims he was held for 16 hours in a cell in Djibouti airport on the orders of MI5. He alleges that when he was returned to the UK on 9 April this year he was met by an MI5 agent who told him his terror suspect status would remain until he agreed to work for the Security Service. He alleges that he was to be given the job of informing on his friends by encouraging them to talk about jihad.
Mohamed Nur, 25, a community youth worker from north London, claims he was threatened by the Security Service after an agent gained access to his home accompanied by a police officer posing as a postman.
“The MI5 agent said, ‘Mohamed if you do not work for us we will tell any foreign country you try to travel to that you are a suspected terrorist.'”
Mohamed Aden, 25, a community youth worker from Camden, was also approached by someone disguised as a postman in August last year. He alleges an agent told him: “We’re going to make your travelling harder for you if you don’t co-operate.”
None of the six men, who work with disadvantaged youths at the Kentish Town Community Organisation (KTCO), has ever been arrested for terrorism or a terrorism-related offence.
They have repeatedly complained about their treatment to the police and to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which oversees the work of the Security Services.
In a letter to Lord Justice Mummery, who heads the tribunal, Sharhabeel Lone, the chairman of the KTCO, said: “The only thing these young people have in common is that they studied Arabic abroad and are of Somali origin. They are not involved in any terrorist activity whatsoever, nor have they ever been, and the security services are well aware of this.”
Mr Sharhabeel added: “These incidents smack of racism, Islamophobia and all that undermines social cohesion. Threatening British citizens, harassing them in their own country, alienating young people who have committed no crime other than practising a particular faith and being a different colour is a recipe for disaster.
“These disgraceful incidents have undermined 10 years of hard work and severely impacted social cohesion in Camden. Targeting young people that are role models for all young people in our country in such a disparaging way demonstrates a total lack of understanding of on-the-ground reality and can only be counter-productive.
“When people are terrorised by the very same body that is meant to protect them, sowing fear, suspicion and division, we are on a slippery slope to an Orwellian society.”
Woolwich murder suspect ‘was offered job with MI5 six months ago’, claims childhood friend
Michael Adebolajo was ‘followed by MI5’ after a trip to Kenya, claims friend
Murder suspect claimed MI5 wanted information about ‘certain individuals’
Abu Nusaybah said security service was also bugging Adebolajo
‘They won’t leave me alone’ Adebolajo reportedly told friend
Michael Adebowale, 22, named as other suspect in murder of Lee Rigby
Pair arrested on suspicion of murder – officers are waiting to speak to them
MI5 is already facing criticism after it emerged Adebolajo and fellow suspect Michael Adebowale had been monitored by the security service for eight years.
It is facing an inquiry by MPs amid a raft of devastating revelations about the alleged killers’ known links to Islamist extremism.
Mr Nusaybah, speaking on the BBC’s Newsnight programme last night about Abebolajo’s MI5 claims, said : ‘His wording was, “They are bugging me – they won’t leave me alone.”
Hypnotism? Trauma in Kenya? Mind control? – ed.
Adebowale was said to have left the Greenwich area for a year and returned about eight months ago, wearing traditional Islamic garb and a white skull cap, typically worn by Muslim men who have been on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: ‘Michael would always say hello and play with my children, but in the last year he stopped. He would just ignore us when we saw him at the lift.
But more recently, he would just put his head down when he saw me. Even if I tried to talk to him he was very dismissive. I thought it was weird….
In recent months Adebowale had begun seeing a woman who had converted to Islam two years ago and wore a headscarf to cover her hair.
Armed police raided her flat, also in Greenwich, and led away two women and a 15-year-old boy, who witnesses said was handcuffed.
Two toddlers and a baby were also said to have been taken from the property….
A friend who has known Adebowale since he was 11 spoke of his shock at seeing the video of the Woolwich atrocity.
The man, who asked to remain anonymous, told ITV’s Daybreak: ‘That wasn’t the same person.
‘He wasn’t someone monstrous, that was not the same person.