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Retarded Prisoner Was Informant For London Terror Raid

London Mirror | June 18 2006

A MAN with an IQ of just 69 is believed to be the trigger behind the bungled terror raid in Forest Gate, East London.

Ex-waiter Mohammed Abu Bakr Mansha, 22, was a childhood pal of the innocent two brothers arrested in the dawn swoop by police two weeks ago.

In January he was jailed for six years for terror offences - and even described in court as an "utter incompetent". Soon afterwards, friends of brothers Abul Kahar, 23, and Abul Koyair, 20, visited him at top-security Belmarsh prison, in South-East London.

And, the Sunday Mirror has learned, that meeting sparked a surveillance operation on the men by the security services. According to a friend of the brothers, they laughed at constantly being followed. Our source said: "It was so obvious we treated it as a joke."

Then new information came through, said to include detailed drawings of a suicide vest.

That led to Operation Volga - the botched police operation to arrest the brothers, which led to Kahar being shot. After seven days in custody they were released without charge amid claims of incompetence and brutality.

Friends of the men believe dim Mansha was the trigger for the extraordinary operation.

Mansha's lawyer Sara O'Keefe revealed how her client was moved just before the raid from category 'A' Belmarsh to a softer category 'B' jail. She did not know why he got the favourable treatment, or whether he unwittingly helped MI5. Told that the brothers knew they were being followed she said: "That sounds about right."

Mansha - serving six years for possessing an old address of a British Army war hero, which police suspected was part of a terror plot - is appealing against his sentence. His trial revealed him to be educationally subnormal with an IQ of 69 - compared to the average of 100. In the US that would make his court evidence unreliable.

If Mansha is confirmed as the trigger for the raid, it will be hugely humiliating for the security services in their battle against terror.

Police and intelligence officials claim the information was from a reliable single source who knew the brothers and whom the security services had dealt with before.

But our probe suggests that if Mansha was at the centre of the investigation, the intelligence is highly suspect and deeply embarrassing for MI5. Vajahat Sharif, lawyer for one brother, slammed the "scattergun" approach, saying it would lead to police targeting more innocent people. He said: "Where does this stop? What about Mansha's friends, family or neighbours? They know him, so presumably they're terrorists."

A friend of the brothers said they'd grown up with Mansha. He said: "We used to play in the street. Abu was strange. He'd suddenly lose it. Once while playing street football, he got upset as no one passed to him. He took out a gun and went pop, pop, pop." He added: "Once I saw him pee in the eye of a man lying on the floor, for fun. I've seen him do all sorts, bad things, because he's a nutter - but he's no al-Qaeda bomber. He needs help, not banging up. A few guys visited him in jail. I didn't go as I didn't like him, but suddenly Kahar and Koyair were being followed. It was so obvious we all treated it like a joke. Maybe if I'd gone too they'd have raided my house and shot me. It's a f***ing outrage."

On June 2 at 4am 250 officers, including forensic and chemicals experts, waited at the terraced home of their parents Abul Kalam and Alif Jan. Bursting through a window, 50 cops met Kahar and Koyair on the stairs. Kahar was shot in the shoulder. They were held for seven days as police dug the garden and drilled holes into walls seeking a chemical device.

A week later police issued a grudging apology, outraging locals. The brothers are suing for distress, wrongful imprisonment and damage to their house. But a pal said: "They don't blame Abu, he's an old friend. But he's capable of saying and doing anything. If he did say anything it would be madness if the police took him seriously."

Ex-intelligence analyst Crispin Black, who is investigating the case, said: "To think that a prisoner with an IQ of 69 could be at the centre of this operation is sheer lunacy. If this is the 'intelligence' trigger for the raid it shows something has gone seriously wrong. Everyone knew about the surveillance - children were knocking on car windows asking officers who they were watching. If they were terrorists, they had plenty of warning. They also arrested them at home, where they could be near an explosive device, rather than at work.

"Making intelligence judgements is their core skill. If they don't do it properly it's depressing.

"Police and security services must now be open and honest, and tell us what this '' intelligence was and why they acted the way they did. Without that - and with the brothers' very believable testimony -we're left with public cynicism which will' make it harder to trap terrorists."

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