Four terror suspects released as police miss court deadlines

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The Independent Online

Police have dropped charges against four terror suspects detained last year during high-profile anti-terrorism raids.

Police have dropped charges against four terror suspects detained last year during high-profile anti-terrorism raids.

The men were arrested in December accused of funding terrorism and being trained to make chemical and biological weapons and explosives.

Arshad Farid, 26, from Luton, Madasser al-Hussan, 26, from Birmingham, Umar Ijaz, 24, and Usman Choudhary, 23, both from Dudley, were detained.

The men each faced between four and 12 charges under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2000 and were held in custody for more than two months before being released on bail.

West Midlands Police confirmed yesterday that the combined total of 22 charges levied against the four suspects had been dropped. Police said it had not been possible to submit evidence within deadlines issued by the courts.

The arrests of Mr Choudhary and Mr Ijaz shocked the Kashmiri community in Dudley. Mr Choudhary is the son of Ghulam, the chairman of Dudley's central mosque. Ghulam Choudhary said: "One does feel angry having suffered so much. It's been a terrible time for the whole family, in particular his mother as well as his three brothers. We are extremely relieved that charges have finally been dropped. From the very first day, I was quite confident that my son was not a terrorist."

Following the arrests of Mr Choudhary and Mr Ijaz in Derby, police seized £2,500 which they suspected came from credit card fraud, intended to support terrorist activity. The money was returned in January after police confirmed it had been raised by the Muslim community for a building fund.

Mr Choudhary and Mr Ijaz, both students, each faced 12 charges under the Terrorism Act. Mr Hassan and Mr Farid, both of whom lost their jobs as a result of their detention, were charged with four and six offences respectively.

The four men, who were released on bail last month, received a "notice of discontinuance" from the Crown Prosecution Service earlier this month.

West Midlands Police said their inquiries would continue. "The four men had been on police bail before the notices of discontinuance which were issued because court deadlines for submission evidence could not be met in the time allowed," a statement read. "However, police inquiries are continuing and the charges may be resurrected if appropriate."