Haneef says he has nothing to do with jihad, fears being framed

By Neena Bhandari, IANS

Sydney : Muhammad Haneef, the Indian doctor from Bangalore held here for his suspected role in the failed UK bombings, is said to have told Australian Federal Police (AFP) that he knew nothing about the plot, he had never had firearms, explosives or terrorist training and denied he had ever been asked “to take part in jihad or anything that could be considered similar to jihad”.

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Haneef said that his father-in-law had booked and paid for a one-way ticket to India for July 2 “because I didn’t have any money,” according to the published transcripts of a taped police interview with him.

On Tuesday, a 142-page transcript of a taped interview by the AFP with Haneef was leaked to The Australian newspaper. In the interview, Haneef insists he is a Muslim with moderate views and reveals he feared being “framed” over a mobile phone SIM card he gave to his second cousin, Sabeel Ahmed, the third person charged in the failed bomb attacks in London and Glasgow.

Haneef told the AFP he was told by his father-in-law to call British police and “let them know what’s going on.” Haneef said that he made repeated telephone calls to police officer, Tony Webster, in Britain to explain the SIM card issue, but the calls were unanswered.

AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty told the ABC that the detailed taped police interview with Haneef published in The Australian newspaper has not come from the police officers and it undermines the judicial process.

Keelty told ABC, “There are two interviews with Dr Haneef. Only one of the interviews has been leaked and only one of those interviews has been released to the lawyers for Dr Haneef. In other words, there’s another one that has not been released by the police or the prosecution.”

Haneef’s lawyers will be filing an appeal in the Federal Court, seeking a judicial review of the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Kevin Andrews’s decision to revoke the 27-year-old Indian doctor’s 457 work visa.

Haneef’s lawyer Peter Russo has said his client has decided to delay posting the AU$10,000 bail surety to avoid being taken into immigration detention.

Meanwhile, there is confusion about the wording of the exact charge laid against Haneef. Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock was unable to put the record straight whether it was “intentionally” or “recklessly”.

AFP commissioner Keelty, at a press conference in Canberra on Saturday, had stated the specific allegation involved “recklessness rather than intention”.

Haneef has been charged under the Australian counter-terrorism laws with supporting a terrorist organisation by “recklessly” giving his mobile phone SIM card to people planning the UK bomb attacks.

However, the documents the minister for immigration and citizenship used to revoke Haneef’s visa, which were released by Haneef’s lawyers, reportedly say Haneef has been charged with “intentionally” providing resources to a terrorist organisation, and being reckless as to whether the organisation was a terrorist organisation.

Ruddock told the ABC that the government had not ruled out asking for a Supreme Court review of Magistrate Jacqui Payne’s decision.

Meanwhile, Australian authorities are investigating a report in The Asian Age newspaper in India that said Haneef was a senior organiser for the now-banned group, the Student Islamic Movement of India, when he was at medical school.

The Indian government has demanded that Dr Haneef should be treated “fairly and justly under Australian law”.

A spokesman for Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer told ABC that Australian High Commissioner to India John McCarthy had been in regular contact with the Indian government about Haneef’s case since he was arrested.

The spokesperson said, “We’re looking to make sure the Indian government is thoroughly aware of everything that’s going on in relation to this case”.