British police want book by former Al Qaeda agent

April 5th, 2008 - 9:36 am ICT by admin  

London, April 5 (IANS) A former British Al Qaeda fundraiser and recruiting agent who has turned into an anti-terror campaigner faces police investigation after co-authoring a book about his experiences as a terrorist. Hassan Butt, a British Pakistani from Manchester, allegedly raised tens of thousands of pounds for terror networks but left Al Qaeda after the London bombings of July 2005, saying he wanted to wean young people away from terrorism.

Now Greater Manchester Police have won the right to force an independent journalist who has co-authored a book along with the 27-year-old former jihadist to hand over its draft manuscript and notes. A court ruled last week that police could seize notes and documents from the journalist, Shiv Malik.

Butt, who used to travel between Pakistan and Britain as a terror agent, claimed the continued investigation threatens his counter-terrorism work and offered to speak to the police.

“I’m more than happy to cooperate. If they want to charge me for things I’ve done in the past then [let them] say that,” he told BBC television.

“I’m saying, put me in prison, that’s fine, but think of the damage you are going to do to the effort to de-radicalise extremist Islam in this country,” he said in another interview.

Police has refused to comment on the case, saying it would be inappropriate to discuss “an ongoing investigation.”

According to Butt’s confessions, he helped hundreds of British recruits get weapons training in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2001 and fight for the Taleban.

At the time Butt was a member of the radical Islamist group Al-Muhajiroun, and one of the trainees was Mohammed Siddique Khan, the man who led the July 7, 2005, London suicide bombings that killed 52 people.

“I realised that the jihadi network was not killing for the sake of Islam, it was killing for the sake of causing terror and causing havoc,” Butt said.

“Muslims are living in this country and accepted; they’re equal citizens of the same state,” he added. “We’re born, raised and are planning to die in this country, so how can this country be a land of war?”

Having left the network in January 2006, Butt is said to have been working with some of his original recruits to wean them away from terror.

He met Home Office Minister Tony McNulty last July to discuss ideas about tackling radicalisation.

“It’s not easy being hunted by jihadis who want to kill you, moderate Muslims who think you have betrayed Islam, and the Manchester police who might want to prosecute me,” Butt said.

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