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Australian Police Charge Haneef with Support to Terror

NDTV Report

Brisbane, Jul 14: Mohammad Haneef, the Indian doctor from Bangalore who has been detained in Brisbane since July 2, has finally been charged by the Australian Federal Police.

Haneef is the second person to be charged in connection with the failed terror attacks in London and Glasgow.

The other is Bilal Abdullah, who is being held in London on charges of conspiring to set off explosions.

A photographer clicks as a relative of Firdaus Arshiya, wife of Haneef, tries to gain entry into house at BTM layout in Bangalore on Friday amidst hope of Haneef's release in Australia.

Haneef has been charged with providing support to a terrorist organization. The maximum penalty for this is 15 years in prison.

Haneef will be produced in the Brisbane Magistrate's Court later on Saturday, and his lawyer Peter Russo says that he will apply for bail.

Haneef allegedly provided a SIM card to his cousin Sabeel Ahmed, who along with his brother Kafeel are among seven other suspects being held in Britain.

Rain or shine, the mediapersons wait outside the residence of Firdaus Arshiya, wife of Haneef at BTM lay-out in Bangalore, in the hope of getting the news of release from Australia, on Friday. (Daijiworld exclusive pics by Akash Poojari Polali)

Haneef, Sabeel and Kafeel reportedly shared a house in Liverpool for up to two years before Haneef moved to Australia, and remained in contact by phone and online messaging after that.

Haneef was stopped at Brisbane airport on July 2, as he tried to leave Australia for India on a one-way ticket.

He has maintained that he was rushing home to see his wife and newborn daughter. However, the police have said that they do not believe his explanation.

The police have also said they suggest a possible link between Haneef and Abdullah, who was in the burning jeep that Kafeel tried to crash into the Glasgow airport.

Australian police charge Indian doctor over British terror plot


Brisbane: Australian police charged an Indian doctor Saturday with providing support to a terrorist organization by recklessly giving a member of the group his mobile phone SIM card before he moved to Australia.

Muhammad Haneef, 27, was charged with providing support to a terrorist organization, an offense which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

Australian police arrested Haneef on July 2 after his mobile telephone's SIM card was found in the possession of one of the men accused in the failed car bomb attacks on London and Glasgow, Scotland, on June 29 and 30.

Media reports later identified the man as Sabeel Ahmed, Haneef's distant cousin and former housemate, who is being questioned by British police over the foiled plot.

"The specific allegation involves recklessness rather than intention," Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty told reporters in the capital, Canberra.

He said Haneef had been "reckless" in supporting the alleged terror cell, "in particular the provision of his SIM card for the use of the group."

Official documents cited by The Australian newspaper on Friday said Haneef gave the SIM card to Ahmed before he moved to Australia from Britain last year so that his cousin could take advantage of free minutes left on his mobile phone plan.

Keelty confirmed police would oppose bail when Haneef appears before the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Saturday.

He is the second person to be charged over the failed British attacks. The other is Bilal Abdullah, who is accused of conspiring to set off explosions in Britain.

Haneef, who came to Australia from Britain last year to work in a Queensland state hospital, is also related to another suspect, Kafeel Ahmed.

British prosecutors allege he crashed a Jeep Cherokee loaded with gas canisters and gasoline into the Glasgow airport then set himself on fire on June 30. Neither Kafeel nor Sabeel Ahmed have been formally charged.

Haneef reportedly shared a house with the Ahmed brothers in the British city of Liverpool for up to two years before Haneef moved to Australia, and remained in contact by phone and online messaging after that.

Police have also said they suspect a possible link between Haneef and Abdullah.

Haneef was arrested in the eastern city of Brisbane on July 2 while trying to leave the country on a one-way ticket to India. He says he was rushing home to see his wife and newborn daughter, born June 26. Police have said they do not believe Haneef's explanation.

The Home Office, 10 Downing Street, the Foreign Office and London's Metropolitan Police all declined to comment on the charges filed in Australia when reached around 1 a.m. Saturday morning.

I am an innocent pawn: Haneef

  • Doctor breaks down during visit by lawyer


Melbourne: Indian doctor Mohammed Haneef, detained in connection with the failed U.K. terror plot, has told the Australian investigators that he “is not a terrorist” but “an innocent pawn.”

According to media reports, the medical practitioner has claimed he was wrongly deemed guilty by association and family ties to known British terror suspects.

“He (Haneef) is not, he insists, a terrorist,” The Australian said. Documentation, known to the newspaper, refers to police suspicions, relations, connections, phone numbers, borrowed SIM cards and overseas terrorism. Bu t nowhere does it confirm any finding yet of sufficient substance to justify charging Haneef.

The doctor broke down during a visit by his lawyer. Launching a court bid to free him, his lawyer Peter Russo said his client was getting depressed after 11 days in detention. The doctor had become “a bit teary” when they discussed the length of time he already had spent in custody, the lawyer was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Faces eviction

As if being locked up for 11 days without charge was not bad enough, the doctor now might be evicted for failing to pay the rent on his Gold Coast residence.

The Age reported that landlord Callum Spence had sought legal advice on whether he could evict him for falling a week behind on rent money.

“My solicitors think there must be some breach of contract but they’re waiting to see what happens with police,” Mr. Spence told The Gold Coast Bulletin. He said the eviction plans were not linked to the current in vestigation. “I’m not going to evict him because of what’s happening. I’ll only do it because I need the rent money,” he said. “If they (police) cut him loose then he can come back here but I don’t think he’ll want to stay.” 


Earlier report - Friday, July 13, 2007

Bangalore: Family Relieved over News of Haneef's Release


Bangalore, Jul 13: The family of Mohammed Haneef, detained in Australia over his suspected links with terror plot in last month's Glasgow Airport attack today looked relieved after hearing the news that the Indian doctor would be released shortly.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP), who had detained Haneef for the past ten days on the behest of British police, had decided not to press for extension of his detention with the court as they could not produce any hard evidence on his complicity in the case.

The court had allowed 12 hours of questioning Haneef, spread over three days, and he was expected to be released by Monday.

"I am very happy and I thank the media of both India and Australia. I was confident that Haneef will be freed early. I am trying to get in touch with the (Haneef's) lawyer," Haneef's wife Firdaus said today.

Speaking to UNI she said that Haneef was always confident of getting freed. "I spoke to him last night and he said he was confident of getting freed in a couple of days. I want to see that day when he comes out of the detention. We are waiting to see him back in home," she said.

Haneef's brother Shoiab said the family was releived on hearing the news but would like to react only after his brother was released by the Australian police. Meanwhile, media reports from Australia said in the AFP had been allowed 12 hours of questioning time, spread over three days, by the Australian court to question Haneef. The doctor had been shifted from watch house to the police headquarters this afternoon. Haneef's DNA was also tested this morning.

Earlier, the AFP wanted to seek three more days of detention of Dr Haneef but after the hearing was adjourned yesterday, it decided to withdraw its application seeking extension of detention.

Three people, all from Bangalore, had been suspected to have involved in the June 30 failed Glasgow attack. This included the Ahmed brothers -- Kafeel and Sabeel and their cousin Haneef. While Kafeel, an aeronautical engineer, had been confirmed to be the driver who drove the blazing Jeep Charokee into the airport, his younger brother Sabeel, also a doctor, was arrested while going in his car in Liverpool. Haneef, who works in Gold Coast hospital in Brisbane was detained in the Australian city on a tip off from the British Police as Kafeel was said to have used a simcard belonging to Haneef.

Earlier report:

Extention to Indian doctor's detention dropped


Canberra, Jul 13: Australian police today withdrew a court bid to extend the detention of an Indian doctor held for 11 days without charge over possible links to failed car bomb attacks in Britain.

Queensland based doctor Mohamed Haneef, 27, is one of six Indian doctors questioned in Australia over the suspected al Qaeda-linked plot in Britain. The others have been released.

''We have withdrawn an application to extend dead time and have recommenced questioning,'' an Australian Federal Police (AFP) spokesman told the sources.

It is not clear when Haneef will be freed as Australian anti-terrorism laws allow police a total of 24 hours of questioning of detained persons. They have only used 12 hours.

The AFP spokesman said Haneef would be questioned for 12 hours, but that he would decide whether to have breaks. In theory he could be questioned for 12 straight hours and freed unless they decide to charge him.

Australian media reported today that police had no evidence against Haneef, but they believe he has had ''significant contact'' with the suspects.

Civil rights groups and lawyers have called on Haneef to either be charged or set free, but Prime Minister John Howard said today he was not uncomfortable with Haneef's detention without charge under tough anti-terrorism laws.

''I'm happy with the laws because I sponsored them. I defend them. We do need to arm ourselves with the laws that are being applied at the present circumstance,'' Howard told local radio.

''I think the Australian public is entitled to effective laws and God forbid that we should ever have a terrorist attack in this country,'' Howard said.

Two car bombs primed to explode in London's bustling theatre and nightclub district were discovered early on June 29. The following day a jeep crashed into the terminal building at Glasgow airport and burst into flames.

All six suspects in Britain are medics from the West Asia or India. One, Iraqi-trained doctor Bilal Abdulla, 27, was charged last week with conspiring to cause explosions.

No Evidence

The Australian newspaper said that despite searches across the country, the questioning six Indian doctors and 11 days detention, police had failed to find any evidence linking Haneef to the British attacks.

The newspaper said police documents showed that while no evidence against Haneef had emerged, police still suspected he supported those behind the British failed attacks.

Haneef is a second cousin to Kafeel Ahmed, one of the suspects now in a critical condition with burns from the Glasgow attack, and last contacted his cousin via an Internet chat in March/April 2007, said the documents.

The documents said Haneef was not very close to his cousin, but stayed with him and other suspects when he visited Britain in 2004.

When Haneef left Britain in 2006 to travel to Australia to work, he left his mobile telephone sim card, which one of the suspects later used to access a cheaper telephone deal.

Haneef was contacted by one of the suspects in June 2007, who congratulated him on the birth of a child.

Police will argue in court today that Haneef's detention should be extended as he ''appears to have a significant contact with people in the UK who appear to have been involved in the terrorist acts'', said The Australian, quoting police documents.

Police believe the investigation in Australia and overseas could take another 14 days to complete, the paper said.

Documents and material seized by Australian police included 1,636 photographs, a 40-gigabyte hard drive belonging to Haneef, an 80-gigabyte hard drive belonging to his friend and fellow Gold Coast doctor and two mobile telephones, the newspaper said.

Police were also looking at a personal digital assistant, two 128-megabyte flash drives, a digital camera, email documents, computer discs and a global positioning system.

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