Police officers 'attacked' terror suspect Babar Ahmad

Babar Ahmad
Image caption Babar Ahmad was arrested in a dawn raid on his home in south London in 2003

Four Metropolitan Police officers have gone on trial accused of a sustained and violent attack on a terror suspect.

Babar Ahmad was arrested in a dawn raid on his home in Fountain Road, Tooting, south London, on 2 December 2003.

The officers attacked him at home and on the journey to Charing Cross police station, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Pc Nigel Cowley, Det Con John Donohue, Pc Roderick James-Bowen and Pc Mark Jones all deny assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, told the jury that the officers kicked and punched the suspect and stamped on his feet.

They then allegedly forced him into a praying position in his prayer room and one shouted: "Where is your God now?"

Mr Ahmad offered no resistance to arrest, the court was told.

Raised arms

Police, dressed in helmets and protective clothing, smashed their way into Mr Ahmad's home just after 0500.

The officers, who were briefed before the raid that Mr Ahmad had received terrorist training and fought overseas in support of jihad, were concerned the suspect would resist arrest.

"The reality was quite different," said Mr Laidlaw.

"Dressed only in his pyjamas and barefooted, Mr Ahmad raised his arms above his head to indicate that he was not going to fight or to present any sort of danger or threat to the police."

But the [police] Territorial Support Group were not "going to take any chances," the prosecutor added.

The jury was told the officers began to shout and swear at Mr Ahmad and he was punched and beaten to the floor, where the assault continued.

'Battered and bruised'

The officers carried on violently even after Mr Ahmad's hands had been secured behind his back with handcuffs, Mr Laidlaw said.

The suspect was put in a police van and driven to the police station.

"During that journey the assaults continued," Mr Laidlaw added.

"There was more punching, further pulling up and pressure being applied by the manhandling of the handcuffs and Mr Ahmad was held in headlocks. The taunting and verbal abuse also continued."

When the victim arrived "battered and bruised" at the station the defendants pretended to the custody sergeant that he was very violent in his resistance, the court heard.

Mr Laidlaw said: "It was a lie that all four defendants persist with to this day."

Extradition fight

Mr Ahmad's arrest was part of an anti-terrorism swoop named Operation Quarrier. Three other properties were raided in the operation.

The victim, whose house had been bugged by MI5, was suspected of being the leader of a group which provided al-Qaeda and others with computer, financial and logistical expertise.

Mr Laidlaw urged the jury not to be distracted by this.

The prosecutor said delays in the trial - which has started more than seven years after the alleged assault - were caused by internal investigations, obtaining medical opinions and case reviews.

The officers were part of the Territorial Support Group at the time, which assisted the Anti-Terrorist Branch in the arrest operation.

Mr Ahmad, who was a suspected jihadist with training as a terrorist, was released without charge after six days.

He is currently in custody awaiting extradition to the US for alleged terrorism offences. He has been fighting that decision since 2004.

The jury was told the British courts granted the extradition, but Mr Ahmad appealed and the case has not yet been resolved.

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