The Government’s anti-terror policy was dealt a major blow today as two Libyan terror suspects, one of whom had a map marked with the flightpath to Birmingham Airport, won their appeals against deportation.
Additionally, the two men could even be freed on bail while the Government attempts to overturn the decision.
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) allowed the appeals by the two Muslims, who could only be identified by the initials DD and AS.
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It was the first test of a crucial diplomatic agreement - known as "memoranda of understanding", or MOU - which the Government signed with Tripoli to remove suspects without breaching human rights laws.
Siac chairman Mr Justice Ouseley said in his ruling that there remained a real risk that the European Convention on Human Rights could be breached if the two men were removed to Libya, although he indicated it was not a probable risk.
"There is also real risk that the trial of the appellants would amount to a complete denial of a fair trial," he added.
MOU’s are a key plank of the Home Office’s policy on dealing with foreign terror suspects who cannot be prosecuted in UK courts. A series of agreements have been signed with Middle Eastern and North African countries, seeking guarantees that any of their citizens deported by Britain will not face torture or ill-treatment.
A Home Office spokesman said: "We are very disappointed with today’s decision by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) that it is not safe to deport these individuals to Libya at the present time.
"These individuals have been found by SIAC to represent a real risk to the national security of this country.
"We believe that the assurances given to us by the Libyans do provide effective safeguards for the proper treatment of individuals being returned and do ensure that their rights will be respected.
"We intend, therefore, to appeal to the Court of Appeal to seek to overturn this decision."
The two men will be freed within days after Siac granted them bail in principle.
The Home Office had opposed bail on the grounds they would abscond if let out of Long Lartin maximum security prison, where they have been under immigration detention.
Tim Eicke, for the Home Secretary, said: "There is every incentive for them to absent themselves. We should be grateful if they should remain in detention."
However, Siac Judge Mr Justice Mitting said keeping them in detention after they had won their appeal would be on the "cusp of legality".
The court heard that a strict set of bail conditions had been agreed between the Home Office and lawyers for DD and AS, including a daily 12-hour curfew.
The addresses at which the pair will be required to live will be finalised in a hearing next Thursday.
One of the terror suspects was found with a map marked with the flightpath to Birmingham International Airport, it was revealed.
The A-Z street atlas was found in the boot of a car at the home of the suspect DD. It showed markings along footpaths which ran under aircraft routes to the airport, Britain’s sixth largest.
"The markings might have been for reconnaissance purposes but might have a wholly innocent explanation," said a ruling by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac).
The court ruled that DD was a "real and direct threat to the national security of the UK" and a "global jihadist with links to the Taliban and al Qaida".
The Home Secretary’s case also claimed DD’s brother-in-law Serhane Fakhet blew himself up in a raid by Spanish police in the wake of the 2003 Madrid train bombings.
Another brother-in-law of DD, Mustapha Maymouni, is serving 18 years in Morocco for his part in the Casablanca bombings which killed 45 people in May 2003.
Revealing details of both DD and AS for the first time, the Siac document said: "The Home Secretary attributed considerable weight to these familial connections, and sees them as rather more than unhappy coincidences."
Siac concluded: "DD’s links to Maymouni and Fakhet are not mere misfortune or coincidence. We believe from experience that such family relationships with like-minded people add to contacts, cover and security."
Fakhet, alias "The Tunisian", was the suspected ringleader of the cell which carried out the Madrid bombings, killing 191.
Siac today ruled that DD, who was born in 1975, is a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which seeks to replace the Gadaffi regime with a hardline Islamic state. The organisation is banned in the UK.
DD has used a number of aliases including Mullah Shakir Ghaznawi, Imad Al Libi, Hossein Abselam and Abdullah Bataebeid. Married to a Moroccan national, he arrived in Britain in January 2004 and claimed asylum.
He has been in immigration detention since October 2005, five months after he won asylum in Britain on appeal.
The Siac paper said: "He is an Islamic extremist. He is a member of the LIFG and at least within the UK is a figure of some importance and influence."
A website discovered on a DVD at DD’s home included reference to "martyrs", "jihad" and "virtuous warriors". Siac concluded it showed his support for suicide operations.
The second terror suspect to win his appeal and bail today, known only as AS, was also ruled to be a "clear danger to national security".
The Siac document said: "He is an Islamic extremist who has engaged actively and as a senior member with a terrorist group clearly engaged in support work for jihadist activities."
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