London, UK, February 3 2007 – A report in today's Guardian reveals that
police have expressed anger at "a series of leaks and briefings"
related to the arrests earlier this week of nine Muslims in Birmingham.
It is reported that police sources in the West Midlands said that they
"suspected the anonymous briefings may have been intended to deflect
attention from the prisons crisis and the cash for honours inquiry". It
is also alleged that Whitehall officials briefed journalists early on
Wednesday before all the suspects had been arrested and that a tabloid
newspaper received a tip off on Tuesday night before the arrests.
Paul Snape, vice chair of West Midlands Police Federation, said: "The police force is asking the question, where did it all come from? There may be political reasons for it, such as what was going on at the Home Office and at Downing Street." Tayab Ali, a solicitor representing one of the nine suspects, said, "People in government are quick to complain that those involved in the cash for honours inquiry may not receive a fair trial, but there appears to be no such regard for ordinary criminal suspects or suspected terrorists."
Since the arrests on Wednesday, there has been sensational coverage in the media, based on "intelligence briefings" and leaks. The media have reported that there was a hit list of 25 intended victims, that surveillance had been underway for 6 months and that a suspect had purchased a video camera. One tabloid alleged that the plot would have taken place in Tipton and that military spy planes were in the air above Birmingham.
Commenting on these revelations, Dr Imran Waheed, media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, said, "It is alarming, but not surprising, that the Government plays politics with security. With the meltdown in the Home Office and the cash for honours scandal, it appears that these briefings are merely a diversion from Blair's woes."
"The pattern of arrests and fear inducing propaganda surrounding police operations can only lead to the conclusion that the police are not being exclusively used to maintain public safety, but are rather being used as a political tool in the propaganda used to justify foreign policy and to silence dissenting voices. The public should be sceptical about this political expediency, especially given the record of politicians manipulating intelligence to send young soldiers to war in Iraq."
"People are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, however, the sensational reporting of these arrests amounts to a trial by media. Not only does this type of reporting smear the accused in a way that prejudices a fair trial, it also damages community relations."