Terrorist suspect set free

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A TERROR suspect believed to have links to Al Qaeda and to have undergone explosives training in Kashmir will soon be free to walk the streets of Sheffield - after Appeal Court judges gave him back his liberty.

The 38-year-old has had his every movement monitored by the security services for the past two years as part of a strict anti-terrorism ‘control order’ imposed on him by the Home Office.

Authorities said there were reasonable grounds for suspecting the Sheffield-born British national - identified only as ‘BM’ - had undergone explosives training in the Kashmir region.

Officials said they believed he had been in contact with a senior Al Qaeda leader in Pakistan, and claimed he had “expressed interest” in going to Afghanistan to fight. He is also believed to have been involved in transferring cash and equipment to Pakistan for terrorist purposes, and of leading a group from Ilford in North London which was engaged in promoting terrorism.

He was also accused of being in league with two of his brothers - referred to in court by the initials A and B - who have since vanished from the security services’ supervision and whose whereabouts are said to be of concern.

The court heard A and B “were likely to be engaged in terrorism”.

BM was accused by the Home Office of having connived over his brothers’ disappearance and concealing their whereabouts from the authorities.

The brothers are subject to ongoing Home Office control orders.

Last year BM was told he would have to leave South Yorkshire and move hundreds of miles away to Bristol. He had previously been told he may have to move from Sheffield to Leicester.

But yesterday judges at the Court of Appeal in London ruled BM’s control order was invalid - and had been “flawed” from the outset.

Overturning the order Lord Justice Thomas underlined there was no sufficient evidence BM had been engaged in terrorist activities since August 2007.

BM - who was not in court - had claimed the allegations were “historical” and so did not indicate he was a current threat, and the judge agreed the control order “could not be justified as necessary” by the time it was signed by the Home Secretary in April 2009.

The court heard all three brothers were ‘designated’ in August 2007 under a Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order on the basis there were reasonable grounds to suspect they were involved in terrorism.

In April 2009 the trio were hit with control orders. The Home Office claimed the subsequent disappearance of A and B was “of concern since they could be anywhere, even abroad”.

The Home Office alleged: “Considering the strength of the relationship between BM and his two brothers, and the nature of their previous activities, BM was likely - in the assessment of the security services - to be aware of his brothers’ whereabouts and activities.”

Last year the Home Secretary tried unsuccessfully to amend BM’s control order to force him live in Leicester, and in February this year the Home Secretary made a further modification to the order requiring BM to relocate to Bristol.

The court heard BM has been facing criminal prosecution for alleged breaches of the control order - but the Appeal Court’s ruling that the order was invalid lifts the threat of prosecution from over his head.

However Lord Justice Thomas, sitting with Lord Justice Sedley and Lord Justice Hooper, said BM’s control order would be kept in place for another 48 hours, until tomorrow.

It was ruled the Home Office should be allowed more time to decide whether to apply to the High Court for fresh restrictions on his liberty.