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Muslim tried under new UK law acquitted

August 10, 2002


LONDON, Aug 9: A court on Friday acquitted the first Muslim to be tried in Britain under the new anti-terror laws — the second blow in two weeks to the controversial laws.

Sulayman Zainulabidin, 44, was accused of training British Muslims to fight an “ultimate Jihad” across the world. He was the first suspect arrested after the Sept 11 attacks, marking the start of the British government’s moves to crack down on radical Muslims who allegedly use Britain to raise funds for terrorist acts abroad.

A jury deliberated for more than four days but on Friday cleared Mr Abidin of a charge of inviting Muslims to receive training in handling weapons and explosives last year.

Earlier a London court had cleared an Egyptian-born Yasser al-Siri, 39, accused of conspiring to murder the Northern Alliance leader in Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah Masood. Another high profile case was that of the Algerian-born Lotfi Raissi, 28, who was accused of helping to train the Sept 11 hijackers.

The court said there was “no evidence” against Raissi and the application to extradite Mr Raissi to United States failed.

The continued failure of the cases against suspected terrorists raises serious questions about the evidence against 150 suspects who have been rounded up and held in Britain since laws were tightened to cope with the growing threat of international terrorism.

So far, none has been convicted on terrorism charges and nine are still being held in prison without trial under the new laws.