This is a letter written by a British-born Muslim who was stripped of his citizenship along with his father and two brothers for alleged links to Al Qaeda and banned Pakistani terror group.
The British government has issued an order that stops the 27-year-old man from being named, after a legal case to restore his family’s citizenship was rejected by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC). Therefore, the man is referred to in this article as “T1”, as he was in the SIAC case.
According to documents obtained 5Pillars, T1, his 51-year-old father and two brothers, are indicted of being “committed Islamist extremist(s)” with “ties to al-Qaeda and the proscribed organisation, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)”.
He shares his story of how he was harassed by Egyptian security services, counter-terrorism officers in Cairo and ended up in exile in Pakistan.
I was born on 14th December 1987 in London. Since I was young, I had developed an interest in learning Arabic as a second language so I could read the Quran and understand it without referring to its English translation. I had managed to fulfill my ambition when I went to Cairo on the 26th March 2007, I was studying with one of the most prominent scholars of Nasr City, Dr Majid Sultan, who is the student of Shaykh Wasiullah Abbas, a famous Indian scholar of Makkah.
I was honoured to be his student and put in a lot of effort in my studies. My Arabic teacher, Majdi Abdul Aleem was extremely impressed by my ability in learning Arabic and my moral characteristics, he requested me to marry the student of his wife. I was overwhelmed and went ahead with this marriage and finally got married on the 5th October 2007. I felt that my parents’ prayers and my ambitions were successfully achieved.
A few months into my marriage, I planned to go back to the UK with my wife to settle down. I had applied for a British visa for my wife, submitted her documents and the visa fee. Five days after submitting the documents, I received a phone call from the British Embassy, from a man named “Paul” claiming to be the Commissioner. He said your wife’s visa approval has been rejected but I may find a way to help you, meet me at the embassy on Monday morning.
The next day I was walking back home from the market after buying groceries, when a man suddenly jumped out behind a small wall and forced me into a Toyota Hiace van that was parked next to my flat. He was accompanied by five well-built Egyptian men in normal clothing. They told me they were from the intelligence services, and were sent to me to gather information but they didn’t tell me who had sent them.
They asked me some general questions, like my name, father’s name, occupation and purpose of visit etc. My newly wedded wife observed this incident from the window, and was petrified because as a local resident she knew this was not normal. Due to this incident, the element of fear within us increased and we nervously anticipated for Monday’s meeting.
On the day of the visit my wife fell ill, so I met Mr Paul alone. He took me into a special room in the embassy, where we had to cross double glass doors. He analysed me from top to bottom and started to write something on his notepad. He then returned my wife’s visa deposit (5,000 Egyptian pounds), and said she won’t be visiting the UK but “I have a few questions for you…”
Paul asked: “What are you doing in Cairo?” “What’s your link with Al Qaeda?” “What’s your link with Lashkar-e-Taiba?” “Do you intend to travel to Pakistan to your big house?” “Why aren’t you scared from me?” “Were you trained for this interview?” “You seem very confident!”
I was shocked at what was happening and what was going on as it didn’t cross my mind that this would ever happen to me. During my stay in Egypt I was constantly harassed by Paul on various occasions and he phoned me regularly. All this pressure was on my head I couldn’t figure out why this was happening to me.
My in-laws had no information on who I was before marriage, and only got their daughter married to me on the basis that I was a good Muslim and a student of knowledge. They started questioning who I was – whether I was wanted terrorist. Their fear was constant due to the continuous harassment I received from Paul and couldn’t understand why he was so interested in my life. But my behaviour and etiquette proved to my in-laws that I was an extreme in my understanding of Islam, so they didn’t have a problem with me living with their daughter.
My younger brother ****** (U1) was getting married in Pakistan so we decided to attend his wedding. We left on the 30th October 2009. When we reached Pakistan, I discussed my encounters with Paul with my family. My father and brothers informed me that they had experienced the same at Manchester Airport.
We were all being harassed by the authorities for alleged crimes that we had never done or had any knowledge of. Based upon this fear we decided to extend our stay in Pakistan as I had no other option. My wife’s visa application was rejected and I was being constantly harassed and followed in Cairo.
In 2011 we received letters from the UK Home Office that we had been deprived of our citizenship under the British Nationalist Act of 1981. My heart sank as this was a great loss to my teaching and education career. In effect, I couldn’t travel anywhere as I was ‘stateless’. I couldn’t explain to my in-laws that my wife was no longer able to travel with me as she didn’t want to live in Pakistan neither did we want our children to be brought up here. I wanted my children to be raised in London, the way I was taught equality and social harmony.
The respect for humanity – people of other races, ethnicity, religion and no religion was something I find difficult to find in Pakistan. My wife returned to Cairo and it saddened me that I was unable to accompany her. I was distraught that as a result of being stateless, I wasn’t there on the birth of my second child Hamzah, and my wife was alone without me to support her.
My life had turned upside down and I was considered a liar in the eyes of my in-laws, as they had to face all these problems and did not believe that the British government could just snatch anyone’s citizenship when they weren’t physically there to hear the charges! Now, I have no career or future in Pakistan, as my studies have been interrupted. I can’t find a job as I have no academic certificates or qualifications.
My wife sees no future in Pakistan or in a marriage without a husband who has lost his right to travel freely without harassment. Our property, source of income. My children have no education here or free medical facilities, so she has left and is currently in Egypt. She said that this is destroying our life and our children’s future.
My in-laws don’t want their daughter’s life to be ruined as she is still young. They have requested that I find a way to get to Cairo and live there forever. I told them I don’t have a British passport nor can I live safely with these false allegations against me. They responded by saying that they were filing for a divorce through Egyptian courts, and wanted nothing to do me or Pakistan.
I have no future, no life and have lost everything I had. Of most value is my wife and children, and now I have lost them too. Since I was deprived of UK citizenship, my life has become miserable and has no chance of living a peaceful life again unless I get my British passport again.
I am a proud British-born Muslim and I wanted the same for my children. I believe that the UK Government has taken a drastic step based upon false information.
I pray that we receive justice in this life so I can reunite with my wife and kids again.
****** ****** T1