By John Fahey, PA
An al-Qa’ida terror suspect was “reassured” seeing police outside his house moments before they smashed their way inside and allegedly beat him up, a court heard today.
Babar Ahmad was in bed with his wife at around 5am on December 2, 2003 when the Anti-Terrorist Branch forced their way in to arrest him.
He was allegedly beaten up and mocked by four officers from the Territorial Support Group who were assisting the raid.
Today, the 37 year old told Southwark Crown Court he was woken by a massive bang on his door and thought a car had driven into the semi-detached property in London, more than seven years ago.
He said: “Initially I was in shock, confusion and panic. I didn’t know what had happened I didn’t have the foggiest idea.
“When I saw the police I felt somewhat reassured.
“I thought: It’s the police, it’s only the police, it’s not a car crash or a robber.”
He said officers in full riot gear ran up the stairs and despite him standing passively with his hands up he was thrown head first into a window.
The officers then beat him he said, while shouting “vulgar abuse and language”.
Mr Ahmad, who is in custody awaiting extradition to the US for alleged terrorism involvement, said: “That was the first time in my life that the police have raided my house in the middle of the night.
“It was complete confusion and shock.
“I had just woken up and lots of things were going through my mind: Why have they come up here? Have they mixed me up with someone else? Is there a robber hiding in my house? Or have they come to arrest me? All these things were going through my mind.”
Mr Ahmad said he was wrestled to the floor and repeatedly punched, sworn at and one officer pulled his genitals.
Prosecuting QC Jonathan Laidlaw asked if he had fought or struggled.
The witness said: “I was completely compliant because I had made my mind up when they came towards me I was going to co-operate and reassure them they had nothing to fear from me whatsoever.”
He added: “At no point did I struggle or make it difficult for them.
“At no point did I say anything to them other than: Can you stop hitting me?.
“I didn’t make it hard for them or provoke them whatsoever.”
Mr Ahmad, who was suspected of leading a small group that helped al-Qa’ida with financial, logistical and organisational expertise, was never charged in relation to the raid.
He said that once his wife, Uzma Qureshi, was removed from their bedroom the assault continued.
He said he was punched again but it was not as “ferocious” as the first attack.
He was handcuffed with his arms behind his back and read his rights before the cuffs were loosened and allegedly used to hurt him.
They were repeatedly pulled up his arms, he said.
“I started screaming in pain. It was extremely painful. The metal went straight down the bone.
“It was like someone held a flame to my wrists.”
He said officers stamped on his bare feet with their steel toe-capped boots and kneed his right thigh before he was taken downstairs to his prayer room.
The security service, MI5, had Mr Ahmad under surveillance and had bugged the room.
A recording of the raid was played to the seven men and five women of the jury but the contents were largely inaudible.
Mr Ahmad, an aeronautical engineering graduate who worked in IT, said officers smashed a candlestick in the prayer room and touched his exposed “private parts” while he had been put in a praying position and mocked his faith.
He said: “One of the officers said ‘You are in prayer now’. All the others began to laugh and it was like they were laughing at me.
“One said ‘Where is your god now?’. And another said ‘Pray to him’.
“After that, the officers were laughing and I can’t remember details of what was said but it was a very intimidating atmosphere.
“I had just been beaten and I was on the floor and they were laughing and there were jibes.”
The complainant added that his pyjama bottoms were pulled down before he was abused further.
“One put his hands to where my private parts were and spent a long time just touching my private parts. He had black gloves on.
“I think he might have said some sort of comment but I can’t remember what was said.
“There was chuckling and laughter but I felt humiliated when that was happening.”
Mr Ahmad was giving evidence in the trial of the four officers accused of his assault.