Release of C – extracts

The case of C, Egyptian imprisoned without trial under anti-terrorism law of 2001 and unexpectedly released unconditionally on 31 January 2005

Extracts from judgments of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission on C

SIAC open judgment, 29th October 2003

1.            C is a citizen of Egypt.  He appeals under section 25 of the 2001 Act against the decision of the Secretary of State on 18th December 2001 to certify him as a suspected international terrorist under section 21 of that Act, and section 2 of the 1997 Act against the Secretary of States decision on the same date to make a deportation order against him.  In addition to challenging the Secretary of States suspicion of him as an international terrorist, his grounds of appeal are that he is and should continue to be recognised as a refugee under the 1951 Convention and that his removal would breach Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and also Article 8 of that Convention because his wife is a citizen of Yemen and his daughter is British.

6.                On the basis of the statements he made in his claim for asylum, he was recognised as a refugee in the United Kingdom on 30th March 2001 and granted indefinite leave to remain as such.  There is no doubt on the evidence before us that that grant at that time (whether or not in fact merited) arose from inefficiency in the Home Office. The Security Service already had a clear interest in C, but the relevant desk in the Immigration and Nationality Department failed to keep a close enough track on the file which was, as a result, treated as though it bore an unremarkable asylum application.  As it happens, the Security Services first interview with C was on the very day that he received a letter stating that his claim for asylum had been successful.  That came as a surprise to the Security Service.

8.                The stated grounds for the certification under section 33 and also under section 21 of the 2001 Act are as follows:

You are an active supporter of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) which is designed [sic] a proscribed organisation under Part 2 of the Terrorism Act 2000.  Earlier this year, EIJ merged with Al Qaeda.  You were sentenced in abscentia [sic] to fifteen years imprisonment by an Egyptian military court for your role in trying to recruit serving Egyptian Army officers for the EIJ and in planning operations on behalf of the EIJ, both in Egypt and abroad.

12.  The reports show C involved on both those days in expeditions which went to a number of ordinary high street stores in different areas.  On 27th October, the party went from Luton and visited Marks & Spencers stores in Hounslow, Wembley and Brent Cross, as well as a number of other shops.  Items were bought by cheque, transaction often totalling 99.  On 31st October, the party left Luton and visited Marks & Spencers stores in Brent Cross, Wembley, Hammersmith and Edgware Road and returned, or attempted to return, goods to the stores.  Again, they also visited other stores.  (For the avoidance of doubt, we note that the evidence does indicate that there is a Marks & Spencers store in Luton.)  It is right to say that the evidence we have summarised would not suffice to secure a criminal conviction. We are, however, entirely satisfied on the basis of this and evidence provided in the closed sessions that there is exceptionally good ground for suspicion that these transactions are neither either isolated nor innocent.  The suspicion that C has been engaged in fraud is more than reasonable:  it is virtually inevitable.

20.     We can deal briefly with the question of fraudulent activities.  We have already recorded our finding that there is ample ground for the Secretary of States view that C has been involved in fraud.  At that stage, we left open the question of the intended destination of the proceeds of the frauds.  The Secretary of State points out that Cs lifestyle is not such as to suggest that his fraudulent activities are for his own benefit.  Indeed, it is part of Cs case in response to the surveillance report that he receives substantial amounts in social security and other benefits.  Given those facts, coupled with his terrorist links and the total absence of credible explanation emanating from C, we are content to say that on this issue also the Secretary of States case is made out:  his suspicion that C was before his detention involved in fraud in order to support terrorist activity, is a reasonable one.  The various activities lend support to each other, viewed in the round. His detention is proportionate, though we recognise the personal difficulties faced by his Yemeni wife in this country.

33.    There could, therefore, be no breach of Article 32.  Because of the decision we have reached on the facts of this case, we conclude that C has been and would if at liberty continue to be an active supporter of an international terrorist group.  The grant of refugee status to him was an error.  He is not a refugee because of the provisions of Article 1(F)(c), and so in any event Articles 32 and 33 could not apply to him.  If we were wrong about that, then in any event Article 33(2) applies to him because there are reasonable grounds for regarding him as a danger to the security of the United Kingdom, and he is accordingly not protected from return to Egypt.  In accordance with section 33 of the 2001 Act, we dismiss his asylum appeal.

34.            C also raised grounds under Articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.  Those grounds relate solely to alleged infringements of that Convention which would occur if the Appellant were removed from the United Kingdom to Egypt.  They are thus, in a sense, hypothetical.  In the general run of human rights appeals in immigration matters, the breaches are hypothetical:  they will only take place if and when the Appellant is removed.  The Appellate Authorities need to consider the hypothesis, because the case is brought on the basis that the Respondent does indeed intend to remove the Appellant.  That is not the case here.  It is because the Respondent concedes that removal would breach at least some part of the European Convention on Human Rights that the Appellant is detained under section 23 of the 2001 Act, rather than being removed. In these circumstances, is not merely hypothetical [sic]:  it is a possibility that can be ignored.  We do not need to make a finding on these grounds.

35.            That leaves what may be called the pure immigration appeal.  The Appellant has indefinite leave to remain but, as an alien, is subject to deportation under section 3(5)(a) of the 1971 Act if the Secretary of State deems his deportation to be conducive to the public good and the decision is appealable, but in national security cases as in any others, an Appellant appealing a decision of this sort has the burden of proof.  Although such decisions are often made following conviction of a serious criminal offence, nothing prevents a deportation decision under section 3(5)(a) being made on the basis of suspicion or of general public order.  Given that the Secretary of State has established his case on the section 25 appeals, we find also that the Appellant has failed to show that his deportation would not be conducive to the public good.

36.            It follows that Cs certification, asylum, human rights and immigration appeals are all dismissed.


SIAC review of Cs detention, 2nd July 2004

8.  The updated open generic material, as we explain in the first review update to the open generic judgment, continues to show that there is a direct terrorist threat to the United Kingdom from a group or groups of largely North African Islamic extremists, linked in various ways to Al Qaeda.

9. Although arrests and detentions have disrupted his range of associates and contacts, there are other prominent contacts at liberty with whom he [C] would readily resume contact and re-establish his activities. He continues to have many contacts abroad, including the EIJs European leader, Moawad, who would assist him carry on his former EIJ linked activities.

10. The cheque books and credit cards, in the name of Hassan, a UK based GI[1] member seized when his house was searched upon his arrest did not show financial irregularities or links to terrorism but the large number of different credit cards and cheque books showed reasonable grounds for the belief that he was engaged in support activities for terrorists when taken with all the other evidence. He would still have the will, commitment and ability to resume his activities in the UK were he to be released. The certificate is properly maintained.

[1] It was the Gamaat Islamiya which was responsible for the assassination attempt on Mubarak and the attacks on tourists in Upper Egypt. It was the GI which had assassinated Sadat as well. SIAC generic judgment of 29th October 2003,

| Home Secretary’s statement on release of CGuardian article on C release | fuller analysis

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