Terror suspect refused bail after Home Office claims he is 'significant threat'

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The Independent Online

One of the eight foreign nationals held in raids under the Government's new anti-terrorism laws was yesterday refused bail because he represented a "significant threat" to national security.

Djamel Ajouaou, an interpreter, was considered to be a terrorist by the security services and the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, a hearing of the Immigration Appeal Commission was told.

His bail application hearing was told that he was an active supporter of terrorist groups linked to Osama bin Laden. Ian Burnett QC, for the Government, said: "If he was at liberty, it is considered he would pursue these activities of supporting terrorism and that there is a real risk he would in effect 'go to ground' in the UK and continue his activities."

Mr Burnett said Mr Ajouaou had procured equipment for terrorist organisations. He also had links to Amar Doha, who is in custody awaiting deportation to the US in connection with a Millennium Eve bomb plot in Los Angeles, and Yasser al-Siri, who is suspected of involvement in the murder of a Northern Alliance warlord.

The former caterer, thought to be from Algeria, was arrested on Wednesday and has been detained in Belmarsh high-security prison in south-east London, since his arrest.

Gareth Peirce, who represented Mr Ajouaou, said his detention was astonishing. She said there was no solid evidence against her client and he was only linked to Mr Doha and Mr al-Siri because he had acted as their interpreter in Belmarsh.

Ms Peirce added that Mr Ajouaou had been in the UK since 1985 and had a British wife and family. He was a widely respected member of his community, she said. "He is somebody who is known in his community as the individual to whom everybody turns to when they are in trouble."

Mr Justice Collins, chairman of the commission, ruled that it was impossible to grant bail in view of the Home Secretary's statement that Mr Ajouaou represented a threat to national security.