Terror suspect 'quizzed on laptop images'

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THE 20-year-old Muslim man arrested in an anti-terror operation was interrogated by police at Glasgow Airport eight days earlier, when he was about to fly to Pakistan, it emerged last night.

Police stopped Mohammed Siddique on 5 April and questioned him for more than four hours in relation to images found on a laptop computer he was carrying.

He was travelling with his uncle, who is from Pakistan.

Officers released the pair but confiscated the laptop, which is thought to have contained images from Iraq which were downloaded from a website.

Mr Siddique was being held last night at a high-security police station in Glasgow after a sheriff granted police up to seven days to detain the suspect.

The former Glasgow building and printing college student was arrested in an early- morning raid by armed officers at his family's home in Alva, Clackmannanshire, on Thursday.

An application by police to hold the suspect for more time was approved yesterday by a sheriff during a special, private hearing at Govan police station in Glasgow, where Mr Siddique is being held.

Police must apply to the courts if they wish to question a suspect held under the Terrorism Act 2000 for longer than 48 hours.

Mr Siddique's lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said: "The warrant for further detention was granted by the sheriff although it was opposed by myself.

"The police said that their basis for further detention of my client was that they had reasonable grounds for believing it was necessary.

"The detention period expires at 7.06am on Thursday, 20 April."

Mr Anwar said his client was deeply upset. He said: "He has asked me to state that he is not a terrorist and he completely and utterly condemns the atrocities of 11 September and 7 July.

"He quoted a verse of the Koran to me, 'He who saves a life, saves the whole of humanity.'

"He believes he's perfectly entitled to ask questions. He is deeply worried for his family and distressed at being branded a fanatic by reports in the press."

The defence lawyer said his client believed that the Muslim community was now being targeted by anti-terror police, just as, he claimed, the Irish were during the IRA bombings of mainland Britain and Northern Ireland.

Mr Anwar, the procurator fiscal, a sheriff and Mr Siddique were present at the hearing at the police station, which is a designated station for suspects held under terrorism laws.

Officers swooped on his family home, next door to a general store in Alva at about 7am on Thursday.

Residents of the town, which has a population of about 5,000, have spoken of their shock at the arrest.

They describe the family as honest and hard-working, and Mr Siddique himself as a "nice fellow".

Mr Anwar said his client was intending to travel to the Punjab region of Pakistan to visit his extended family when he was detained by police at the airport, causing him to miss his flight.

The lawyer, who represented nine Algerians who were arrested and charged under the Terrorism Act in Edinburgh in 2002, but later cleared due to a lack of submissable evidence, said his client was outraged by the war in Iraq, an event which made him become "more religious".

However, Mr Anwar said Mr Siddique told him he was a "mainstream Muslim".

Mr Anwar added: "He is outraged by what has happened to people in Iraq - which is no different to how millions of other Muslims and white people in the UK currently feel.

"But he does not strike me as a card-carrying maniac who was about to blow somebody up."

He said his family were deeply upset by the arrest. "They have never had any contact with the police before. They are very well- respected and hard-working business-people.

"Now they are in a situation where they are being declared fanatics. Their lives have been destroyed."

A spokesman for Central Scotland Police confirmed yesterday: "Following an operation in Alva, Clackmannanshire, on Thursday 13 April, officers have now been granted a further 120 hours to detain a 20-year-old man arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000."