Munir Farooqi, 56, was given four life sentences in 2011 for trying to recruit fighters to do jihad in Afghanistan. He was convicted following a prolonged undercover investigation by police officers who pretended to be Muslims. His daughter, Zulaikha Farooqi, says her father was wrongfully convicted and that the whole family is now being targeted by Greater Manchester Police. She adds Farooqi is now being discriminated against in prison.
5 Pillarz: Your dad has been in prison for 4 years now. What are your reflections on his terrorism conviction?
ZF: My dad used to organize numerous dawah stalls within the Manchester area for over ten years. He converted 100s of people to Islam. All information that was distributed was totally legal and was investigated by the police who would randomly visit his stall, as my dad had nothing to hide. He even invited the police to his home to prove to them that everything he was doing was legal. He produced DVDs, and stocked the literature in his home which the police then saw for themselves.
Preaching Islam was his hobby and he adored spending time with anybody who wanted to discuss about Islam and other religions with him. He was well known for his hospitality and good character in the community. It was this hospitality which the Manchester Counter Terrorism Unit abused as their officers pretended to take an interest in Islam and faked their conversions. They lived this hypocrisy for a whole year, and spent hours in my dad’s company and in mosques.
The CTU officers described their deployment as a gradual “radicalization process.” They said that the first step of the process was to become a Muslim! Initially five people were arrested – Shaykh Asif, Munir Farooqi, Harris Farooqi (my brother), Israr Malik and Matthew Newton (Hamza). This was the so-called terror network who were allegedly collectively radicalizing the two undercover officers.
Shaykh Asif was released without charge within seven days of being arrested and Munir Farooqi’s son, Harris, who lived in the same house and was supposedly the closest-associate to the “ring-leader” Munir, was acquitted at trial. My dad is currently serving a life sentence which he is appealing.
Following the conviction Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Porter, head of the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, said: “This was an extremely challenging case, both to investigate and successfully prosecute at court, because we did not recover any blueprint, attack plan or endgame for these men.”
Due to the conviction Greater Manchester Police are now seeking to seize the family home under the Terrorism Act 2000. However this is a family home to three generations who live at the property. Further action by GMP has resulted in the restriction of the family income from rental properties. This is the main income for the family. They are punishing innocent people.
5 Pillarz: How is prison life for your father?
ZF: My father has been detained for almost 4 years. He has spent 2 years at HMP Manchester in the high security Category A building. This unit is a prison within a prison, for the most dangerous inmates. He is classified as a Category A prisoner so he has to spend most of the day and night in an isolated cell, he can’t do any courses, there is no jummah prayers. He can’t even do what he loves to do most – give dawah – because this is classified as “bullying!”
Before he was sentenced he should have had his status reviewed every month and following his conviction a review should had taken place within 10 days. He was also entitled to a review every 12 months. This has not happened. So Munir Farooqi remains a Category A prisoner four years after his first incarceration.
5 Pillarz: How is his health?
ZF: He is diabetic so requires a general health test on an annual basis, this should include an eye test. He submitted a general request to have this test carried out, and the expert wrote to him stating how important the test was for his health and sight. After 14 months of waiting, he was taken less than 100 yards around the corner from his cell and through a door to have the test.
In a further cruel action the prison has been using his need to access health care to prevent him from seeking a transfer to another prison. He has been forced to take himself off medical needs to allow the transfer to take place. He wants to go to a “dispersal prison” where he won’t have to spend so much time in his cell, where he can cook food, where he can do courses etc.
Other prisons have indicated they are willing to accept him but it has recently been discovered that HMP Manchester haven’t progressed his application for transfer. As a result of this he is losing his sight and he has to have letters read to him.
Due to ongoing legal action against the prison authorities, he has also been prevented from ordering popular Urdu music which he likes. However, if he wanted popular English speaking music this would be fine. Further punitive action has resulted in phone calls to family members being cut off and a ban on speaking Urdu. The reason given is the prison says those whom he contacts can speak “good English.” This is untrue.
5Pillarz: What is the status of your father’s appeal and what support are you calling for from the Muslim and the wider community?
ZF: My father’s appeal is due to be heard in July. In the meantime, we would appreciate if everyone keeps us in their prayers and helps us raise awareness about these injustices. This can be done by contacting us through our website www.savethefamilyhome.com to distribute flyers/posters or help us organize a public meeting in their area. Please also sign both our petitions to save our home, and to free the Manchester Three.