53-year-old Munir Ahmed Farooqi is a well-respected man in his community. He had been holding a da’wah stall (where he invited people to Islam) in Longsight, Greater Manchester, for 11 years. His activities included distributing literature, CDs and DVDs about Islam to help people to see the true image of Islam and to explain how it is not associated with terrorism.
Munir even invited people back to his home and talked to those who were interested about Islam, and taught new Muslims about Islam and the prayer.
Before Munir’s arrest, 2 police officers posing as new Muslims for two years befriended him questioning him in a leading manner about going abroad to train abroad.
Arrest and Charges
Along with 3 others, in what has now been referred to as the ‘Manchester Four’, Munir Farooqi was arrested in one of a series of counter-terrorism raids which took place at around 4.00am on 16 November 2009.
The other 3 were Matthew Ronald Newton and Israr Hussain Malik who were also active on da’wah stalls, and his son Haris Farooqi who was not linked to the da’wah stalls in any manner.
Munir, Haris and Matthew have all been charged with the intention of assisting others to commit acts of terrorism, namely violent jihad, engaged in conduct in preparation of giving effect to that intention, contrary to Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006 between 1 October 2008 and 17 November 2009.
Israr Malik was charged with the intention to commit acts of terrorism, namely violent jihad, engaged in conduct in preparation of giving effect to that intention, contrary to Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006 between 1 June 2008 and 17 November 2009.
Munir Farooqi has also been charged with a further 3 counts of soliciting of encouraging another to murder another person or person in July and October 2009.
Munir allegedly solicited undercover counter terrorism officers, known as Ray and Simon, to become killers. This seems to be a classic case of entrapment where Munir had been deceptively encouraged to say words which constitute the committing of an act which has been criminalised – something he would not have done if he hadn’t been urged. This is a clear example of counter-terrorism officers targeting respected Muslim individuals who are steadfast in their religion, appealing to their good nature which has led to their downfall.
Munir was being held in Belmarsh. After one person had reverted to Islam and some others were showing interest, his time outside of his cell was reduced to around 30mins. This gives an interesting insight considering the fact that Munir, Israr and Matthew were all very active in proselytising, calling others to Islam, and begs the question as to the real reason why these men were targeted.
There has been an abuse of power on the part of counter-terrorism officials and an abuse of process. A man cannot be convicted for an act which he would not have committed were it not for inducement from police officials.
Trial and sentences
In September 2011, Munir Farooqi was convicted of preparing terror acts, soliciting to murder and disseminating terrorist literature. It was said at the trial that he was the head of a plot aiming at encouraging young Muslims to “fight, kill and die” in Afghanistan.
The conviction was mainly based on conversations secretly recorded by the two undercover agents in which Munir was describing the virtues of Jihad or recounting his memories as a former fighter.
The comments of Det Ch Sup Tony Porter, head of the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, (NWCTU) show that Munir Farooqi and his co-accused were not condemned because of factual evidences but because of their ideas:
"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. However, what we were able to prove was their ideology. These men were involved in an organised attempt in Manchester to recruit men to fight, kill and die in either Afghanistan or Pakistan by persuading them it was their religious duty.”
Matthew Newton was sentenced to six years and Israr Malik received an indeterminate sentence with a minimum of five years without parole. Munir Farooqi was given four life sentences.
Munir remains in prison and will not be eligible for parole before 2020.
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)