Aid worker known as the 'Tartan Taliban' is released without charge

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A Scottish aid worker known as the "Tartan Taliban" after being arrested as a terrorist suspect in Pakistan has been released without charge, the Foreign Office said yesterday.

Yaqub Mohammed, 37, who changed his name from James McLintock after converting to Islam, has now been reunited with his wife and children, having been held for five weeks.

His parents, Margaret and Iain McLintock, from Arbroath, issued a statement yesterday to express their relief at the release of their son, who was "feeling well but tired".

Mr McLintock, a former chemistry lecturer at Dundee University, and Mrs McLintock, a former teacher, said: "We are enormously relieved James has been released. We are deeply grateful to everyone who has helped us through this very difficult time; our family, friends, local representatives and the media.

"The most worrying thing has been the lack of definite information. The news that James has been released came initially from our daughter-in-law in Pakistan. We have been able to speak briefly to James by telephone."

Friends and family of Mr Mohammed, a former student at Dundee and Edinburgh universities, had argued strongly that he was innocent of any terrorist involvement.

He has lived in Pakistan for two years with his wife, Shaffia, 33, who is from a Birmingham-based Pakistani family, and their four children. The couple met in Bradford in the mid-1990s after being introduced by elders at a mosque. They married in 1995.

Mr Mohammed, who worked for a Pakistani charity, was arrested on Christmas Eve at a checkpoint in North Waziristan, near the Afghan border.

He was called the "Tartan Taliban" by British newspapers after he was suspected of being a member of al-Qa'ida. Reports said he was interrogated by American forces tracking al-Qa'ida terrorists.

Anti-terrorist officers from Scotland Yard travelled to Pakistan to interview the Scot. It was suggested that Pakistani prosecutors had considered charging him with breaching laws prohibiting travel in sensitive areas, an offence carrying a three-year prison sentence.

Mike Weir, the Scottish National Party MP for Angus, who campaigned for the aid worker's release, said: "Finally, it seems everyone has agreed that he was an innocent aid worker and had nothing to do with terrorism whatsoever.

"It is just unfortunate the way this has worked out from the point of view of getting information from the relative authorities." He added: "I want to ask Jack Straw some pertinent questions about the handling of the case and why it has been so difficult for the family to get any information about their son."

* A fifth man from Tipton, the West Midlands town where a street-corner mosque is suspected of having been used as a recruiting ground by extremists, is believed to have gone missing after travelling to Afghanistan. The 21-year-old is a friend of the three Tipton men being held by US forces on suspicion of being involved with the Taliban or al-Qa'ida. A fourth man – a former classmate of the detainees – is also missing in Afghanistan.

Comments