Background

Background

Shah Sher

Name:

Shaheeb Inayat Sher

Place and date of birth:

Bradford, 01 April 1980

Status:

Divorced (Salia Sher 01/09/80)

Address:

38 Dixon Avenue, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD7 2PH

Mobile:

07457 013 891

Email:

shahmsher@gmail.com Twitter: @ShaheebInayat

Professional Background

2009 to date Charity Co-ordinator, Averroes Palestinian Care Foundation

2004 to date IT Contractor

2002-2003 Director of Etec (UK) Ltd, Huddersfield

2000-2002 Director of Girlington Community Centre Ltd, Bradford

1999-2000 Board Member of Manningham & Girlington SRB, Bradford

Academic Education

2002-2003 B.A. Business Studies, Leeds Metropolitan University

2000-2001 B.A. Social Studies, University of Bradford

Family Background

Father: Shafqat Mahmood born in Pakistan to Irshad Begum and Mohammed Inayat Mughal. Mr

Mughal immigrated to Bradford during the 1950s to establish Mughal & Co. 39 Bowland Street,

Manningham and later Jamia Shan-e-Islam. Mr Mahmood managed Mughal & Co. for several years,

he later managed a convenience store before disability forced early retirement.

Mother: Born to Sher Mohammed of Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Yasmin Sher immigrated to the UK in

1979. Shakeel Mahmood, Shajat Mahmood – Lecturer, Qulsoom Inayat – Lecturer, Shakeeb Inayat – Lawyer

Forced Marriage Violence

After leaving school in 1996 with 5 GCSE’s, I occupied my time running a small novelty giftware

business from home. My trading income allowed me to financially support myself and leave home

from the age of seventeen to begin A Levels the same year.

While studying for A Levels, I participated in an art exhibition visit to Paris where I met my future

wife Salia Sher. The circumstances of our relationship met with disapproval from her family,

primarily because of existing prearranged marriage commitments to a doctor based abroad in

Romania. Our endeavour to build a relationship, together with Salia’s enmity against a forced

marriage, influenced our decision in early 1998 to make the commitment to live together.

This unfortunately led to a contentious situation for the next year as her family pursued retribution

for the cause of family honour. The reprisals, death threats and family history of honour-based

violence compelled us to flee violence with the assistance of Social Services and West Yorkshire

Police forced marriage support worker Philip Balmforth. We were helped to relocate on six separate

occasions, three of which were to temporary homeless accommodation units in Leeds, Bradford and

Huddersfield.

After an escalated situation in 1999, we moved in with my parents and married in an Islamic Nikah

ceremony. Although this did not meet with the approval of the Shah family, when the Shahs moved

to Peterborough it did help to curtail open hostility. The reprieve gained from a year of antagonism

allowed us to focus on our interest of community work.

Community Work

We began community work because we appreciated how community services such as housing,

mediation and advice can make a positive difference to the lives of ordinary individuals in alleviating

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Background

Shah Sher

poverty and hardship. We made a commitment in supporting several organisations between 1999

and 2002, for myself this included the Manningham and Girlington Single Regeneration Budget as

Board Member, Girlington Community Centre as Director and Bradford Police Club for Young People

as Treasurer.

We were both nominated Board Members of the Manningham and Girlington SRB. We worked as

part of a management team composed of policy makers tasked with developing sustainable delivery

plans and funding community projects. As the youngest members of a £9.7 million regeneration

scheme we approved various community projects. This included the £4.5 million Lister Park

redevelopment, Sports Action Zone, jobs@manningham and the Girlington Community Centre. The

scheme aimed to revise the downward spiral of inner-city deprivation in a SE Asian community and

further support neighbourhood renewal investments such as the Lister Mills redevelopment.

At Bradford Community Broadcasting, as victims of Forced Marriage Violence, we produced a radio

program on Forced Marriages, interviewing among others Ann Cryer MP and Philip Balmforth. We

explored our own personal experiences along with other noted cases of Forced Marriage Violence

and highlighted the social conditions surrounding Honour Killings in the Asian community.

In 1999 I joined a group of volunteers managing a disused Girlington Centre. I was successful in

securing £150,000 of SRB funding and in May 2000 we formed Girlington Community Centre Limited

to facilitate capacity building services to the local community. As one of the founding directors I was

responsible for directing service redesign and implementation projects, working with local partners,

stakeholders and community groups to generate income to support the overall operation of the

building and further the objectives of the community.

Girlington is considered one of the fourth most deprived areas in England and Wales and a focal

point area of two Bradford riots. The funding helped us to refurbish the centre, the only facility of

its kind in the area, and hire three new employees to accommodate day-to-day service needs. We

achieved some success in engaging with local residents and young people, with the centre hosting

services such as the jobs@manningham project, a community café as-well-as English and Yoga

classes for Asian women. As the only Asian Board Member representing the largely Asian population

of Girlington, I embraced capacity building with local residents, to address problems of social

deprivation and exclusion.

Blackmail, Intimidation and Recruitment

Salia’s employment as a GCC Project Co-coordinator and my role as Director translated into shared

responsibilities as Community Workers to safeguard the needs and aspirations of the community we

belonged to. Unfortunately this access to the Muslim community of Girlington occasioned us both to

become victims of a targeted campaign of blackmail by the Security Services in an attempt to

persuade us to become MI5 informers.

Shortly after Salia joined the GCC in 2000, we were approached by a Bradford Community

Broadcasting volunteer named Catherine. Catherine was a middle-aged, middle class woman who

said she worked as a Civil Servant for the Inland Revenue. She befriended us by inviting us to the

West Yorkshire Playhouse with free tickets, shopping trips to Meadowhall and on Sunday lunches

and country walks to Ilkley and Grassington. She was a mild mannered and well spoken woman who

engaged with us on these social visits. She would always encourage our community work, discuss

the social merits of what we were doing and gauge our opinions on the problems confronting the

Asian community. It was a little unusual for us at the time, for a mature, middle

class, professional woman living in Leeds to cultivate such personal time with two young

marginalised, ethnic community workers from Bradford. It became quite alarming, when she

admitted to working for MI5 and proceeded to blackmail us in an effort to recruit us as informers.

The harassment began with inducements of money and progressed to intimidation. She told us if we

agreed to work for MI5 we had debt problems she could arrange to clear. When we declined she

suggested we didn’t have a choice, we were in a position to help, we should think carefully about it

since refusal is never an option. We asked why we had to be involved, she told us they don’t have

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Background

Shah Sher

personnel of the right culture. When we threatened to go to the police, we were made to understand

there is no public oversight for the work they do, so they can do what they want. Right now

we’re not in any trouble, cooperate and we won’t be. It was a disorientating experience coming from

a government authority you naturally trust with protecting your freedom.

Despite our explicit insistence on no further contact Catherine played on our alienation from family,

our fear and insecurity, to blackmail us into continuing this ‘friendship’, to compel, drive and

motivate us to work as MI5 informers.

We were told we would be spying to help better the community. Protect the community from

religious extremists. She portrayed the Girlington Muslim community as a breeding ground for

jihadists. How these minority radical elements were ruining the good, decent standing of the main

majority of peaceful Muslims. How we could help our community by occasionally passing on a little

information.

As established members of the community we were asked to keep an eye on the Muslim Community

of Girlington. To keep her updated on events, to pass on information on the practices of Asian youth

and women’s groups and to report any suspicious behaviour of young people. I was prompted to

encourage young people to speak about jihad and at times to implicate themselves.

Post 9/11 in 2002 I was invited with the promise of high pay to collaborate on several youth

programmes. I was offered money to work with Muslim student protest movements and foster

partnerships with Muslim student groups to prevent Islamist terrorist attacks. This included

supporting progressive causes with Muslim students to disrupt Islamist political campaigns on

student campuses in the UK and abroad, including Syria, Pakistan and Egypt. As an unemployed,

Asian youth with two years of voluntary community work experience, I was offered £380,000 of

funding for a Student Book Club in return for information on Muslim students.

My contact with the Security Services ceased in 2003. I can only speculate on the reasons why, I

suspect my fractious sympathies made me incompatible with the responsibilities of the work to

hand. I am not fully aware of Salia’s relationship with the Security Services after this point or the

work she was involved with. She joined the social regeneration company Fsquared Ltd. based in

Manchester, after leaving Huddersfield NHS Primary Care Trust as Healthy Living Development

Worker in 2003. She remained there in a PPP/PFI Finance & Infrastructure role until 2007, she was

then employed on £64,000 a year by New Schools Ltd in the same role

, a role she continued after

we divorced in October 2007.

Harassment and Complaint

On returning to Bradford in November 2009, I was questioned in February 2010, as part of routine

attempts by MI5 to gather intelligence on Islamist groups in the UK.

I was asked to attend Manningham Police Station with my driving license in relation to a Road Traffic

Violation. When I arrived a police officer showed me to an interview room, he was with a man from

the Security Services who called himself Tom. Tom said this was nothing to worry about, just a few

questions and it shouldn’t take long at all.

Tom showed me some pictures and asked if I recognised any of the people. He said my contact

number was found in the diary of a terror suspect detained at Heathrow airport, he asked why a

terror suspect would have my number. I explained I was establishing a charity (Averroes Palestinian

Care Foundation), I had made contact with a number of individuals from various backgrounds, in

networking with these people I suspect a number of them had retained my contact details in their

address books.

He did not appear satisfied with this response and went on to ask me a number of questions

including my views on Islamic extremism, which mosques I attended, whether I had travelled

abroad recently and personal details about family members. After thirty five minutes he left me a

mobile phone number and let me go.

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Background

Shah Sher

Following this interview with MI5 officers I received unrestrained phone contact in relation to

working with the Security Services. The phonecalls, often of a detailed personal nature, persisted

with continued pressure to work with the Security Services accompanied by threats of detention,

harassment and ill-treatment abroad.

On one occasion he asked me of my travel plans, I mentioned I was planning on visiting Saudi

Arabia next year for Hajj. He warned “I advise against foreign travel for a while if you don’t want to

be detained as a terror suspect.”

In another call he accused me of raising funds for Afghan and Chechen insurgents over the internet

he said “… any links with terrorism would necessitate detention under the Terrorism Act, it is in your

best interest to consider our offer (to work for them).” Tom said if I agreed to work with the

Security Services I could prove my good standing and he would lift the travel restrictions and

threats of detention.

On other occasions the threats were more directed and antagonistic.

In one warning, “We’ve made the Saudi authorities aware of our concerns for you. You should know

they are not averse to torture.”

“You would be surprised at what we are capable of, I wouldn’t want you to take this lightly Mr Sher,

we have a very good understanding with our Arab partners.”

These latter threats implied that I would be detained in Saudi Arabia if I travelled for the Hajj and as

a terror suspect, tortured. To my knowledge it would suggest the Security Services colluded with the

Saudi authorities to encourage torture interfering with Article 3 ECHR rights.

After six months of intrusive phonecalls I agreed to meet Tom in August 2010 at the Bradford

Hilton. I was shown to a room where two men from the Security Services identified themselves as

Tom and Andrew. I made it clear as I could that I did not appreciate uninvited, unrestrained contact

by phone. I made them aware that as a result of their approach I was being treated for anxiety by

my doctor and my health would not allow me to work with them. They welcomed the opportunity to

discuss how I could assist them with information on Islamist groups. I was very candid in my

approach and told them I only agreed to the meeting to stop any further badgering to work with the

Security Services.

He said they were concerned about Muslim extremism in the Middle East and North Africa where

they were recruiting young western fighters, I said I had no information, they however insisted that

I could help them. I told him for the moment I’m only interested in charity work and as a result of

their approach my health would not allow me to work with them. He seemed more than prepared to

exploit these personal vulnerabilities. He said he would end the travel restrictions and threats of

detention in return for co-operation. He seemed to justify his approach with the view that as the

perceived terrorist threat comes from Muslim people, he was justified in seeking to recruit more

people from those communities. At the meeting and on numerous occasions during telephone

conversations I made it explicitly clear that I would not work with the Security Services.

Unfortunately following this meeting I continued to receive unwanted contact. In an attempt to stop

this permanently I approached a solicitor in October 2011 who wrote to the Security Services with a

clear warning that any further contact would be viewed as harassment, to desist from any further

contact.

Although contact does appear to have stopped since the letter was addressed. With the threats

conveyed I am apprehensive of travelling abroad or of potentially being stopped under terrorism

charges.

I am certain if I was blond with Caucasian skin type, nobody would have bothered me into

committing these acts against my community, but I’m a Pakistani Muslim and I feel a little like I was

criminalised because of my ethnic origin.

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IPT

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10 Marriners Drive

Manningham

Bradford

BD9 4JT

 

07804 319 909

 

The Rt Hon. the Lord Woolf

House of Lords

London

SW1A 0PW

26 April 2012

 

By post and e-mail

 

 

Dear Lord Woolf

 

Re: Complaint against British officials for aiding and abetting torture

 

I am a British national who has issued a claim for damages for aiding and abetting torture by British officials.

 

I am currently in the process of making a formal complaint to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal about a serious breach of Article 3 ECHR. The complaint relates to how British officials colluded with the Saudi state to detain and torture a British subject. Under the Criminal justice Act 1988 it is an offence for British officials to instigate or consent to the inflicting of severe pain or suffering on any person, anywhere in the world, or to acquiesce in such treatment. Any such offence could be punishable by life imprisonment.

I feel the IPT is not equipped to deal with investigations at this level of government, particular when you consider less than 0.4% of judgements are found in favour of the complainant. Parliamentary scrutiny and organisational competence are an important requirement for an Article 3 compliant investigation at this level of government and I believe the Intelligence and Security Committee is best placed to fulfil this requirement.

 

I have contacted the Attorney General, and I have written to the Justice Secretary since I feel the actions of the government threaten key constitutional principles, human rights and rules of law. Secret courts would not be compliant with EU law and as my personal case demonstrates there is a real risk the security services could become above accountability, a state within a state, because the service is judged to handle sensitive information.

 

As a respected peer, I would like to ask: What authority does the upper chamber have to investigate actions of the government? What are the practicalities of an Intelligence and Security Committee Investigation in to allegations of torture? Is there a mandate or responsibility for intervention by a parliamentary body in the public interest? Is there anyone else I could contact who could act as representative of the public interest?

 

Justice is the tooth of envy of every nation; we must protect our national identity and save the Human Rights Act.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

 

Shaheeb M. Sher

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



































































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