A British Muslim man accused of raising funds for terrorist organisations was subjected to a “sustained and very violent assault” during his arrest by four specialist officers from the Metropolitan police, a court has heard.
The jury at Southwark crown court was told the officers punched, kicked and stamped on Babar Ahmad, during an early morning raid at his home in south-west London in 2003.
At one stage, the court heard, Ahmad, who was accused of raising money for al-Qaida, was forced into the Muslim prayer position as an officer shouted: “Where is your God now?”
Prosecuting counsel Jonathan Laidlaw QC told the jury: “The officers began to shout and swear, calling Babar Ahmad a ‘fucking bastard’ and a ‘fucking cunt’, and he was punched and beaten on the floor. On the floor the assault continued as his wife called out for the police to stop.”
The assault had continued in the back of a police van where Ahmad was forced on to the floor and punched and kicked.
Laidlaw said: “The officer sitting nearest to Mr Ahmad’s head asked him where he was born and when he replied London, that officer punched him in the back of the head. The same officer then lifted Mr Ahmad’s upper body and held him in a headlock with both arms. After releasing him [the officer] said: ‘You fucking cunt, you’ll remember this day for the rest of your life.’ “
Laidlaw said the attack left Ahmad with a series of injuries. “There were areas of bruising, reddening and grazes to Ahmad’s head and neck, bruising to the chest, areas of bruising to Ahmad’s back, extensive bruising and grazing of the arms. In effect, there were injuries all over the victim’s body.”
Police constables Mark Jones, Roderick James-Bowen and Nigel Cowley and Detective Constable John Donohue all deny assaulting Ahmad in December 2003.
Jurors heard Ahmad was asleep in bed with his wife when he was woken by cries of “police, police” shortly after 5am.
Laidlaw said officers raiding the property would have been briefed that the suspect had received terrorist training and had fought overseas in support of jihad. He said the arrest took place a few months after another terror suspect, Kamel Bourgass, stabbed an anti-terror squad officer to death during a raid on a house in Manchester.
But the prosecutor said that, despite fears Ahmad might present a danger to arresting officers, the reality was quite different.
“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,” he said.
The court heard that James-Bowen, the first officer into the bedroom, threw himself at Ahmad, knocking him back against the window, which smashed.
Laidlaw said there was “no complaint” about this but that the officers then violently assaulted the “entirely submissive” Ahmad. He was handcuffed and led downstairs to the prayer room in his house. It was here that he was put in the prayer position and asked: “Where is your God now?”, jurors were told.
“The mocking of Mr Ahmad’s faith was to continue, and there were, as you will hear, further attempts to humiliate and to embarrass him,” Laidlaw said.
The court was told that as part of its investigation into Ahmad’s alleged terrorist connections MI5 had bugged the house. The jury was played a 10-minute recording that covered the time of Ahmad’s arrest. Although largely indecipherable it was possible to hear screaming, shouting and what appeared to be muffled commands.
Ahmad was taken to Charing Cross police station where he says he was led to a caged area not covered by CCTV and again punched and kicked.
Laidlaw said the custody sergeant reported hearing his screams.
“[The custody sergeant] describes the screams this way: ‘I would describe the screaming as what I believed was a man and that he was in prolonged discomfort and pain. It was definitely the sound of pain and not of him shouting out.’ “
The custody officer said Ahmad was bloodied and bruised and in “a collapsing state” when he was brought in by the territorial support group officers, who claimed he had been violent.
Ahmad was released without charge shortly after his arrest. But the jury was told he has been in custody in the UK since his rearrest in 2004 following a request from the US over claims he helped raise money to fund terrorism.
The hearing continues.