(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom — Two Muslim men from North East England have claimed they were offered incentives by MI5 in exchange for spying within their communities.
An ITV report has reconstructed interviews with two British citizens — detained upon re-entry to the U.K., after visiting family in the Middle East. Using actors to protect their families, the interviews reveal that the men were asked if they knew any terrorists, asked to spy within their communities, and that their families were harassed for months after the initial meetings.
The information has come to light after the head of MI5, Andrew Parker, announced recently that seven terror attacks have been foiled by British security services in the last twelve months. Questioned about the extreme measures, counter-terrorism expert Raffaello Pantucci told ITV: “They will tend to be looking at a very specific set of people and they will only focus on those people because they have what they feel are genuine concerns.”
“A very specific set of people?” Muslims, you mean? Or brown people in general?
He continued: “But, you know it’s a very difficult balance to strike when you’re dealing with people who maybe didn’t have anything to do with it and suddenly feel harassed.
“At the same time, when you are looking at the sort of terrorist threat that we are seeing in the U.K., it’s maybe understandable that the security services are trying to do this.”
After a few meetings with police and Special Branch, Teesside family man, Hassan, received a phone call he said gave him butterflies in his stomach. Asked to attend a meeting with people he didn’t know, he grew suspicious when they had no business cards and believes it was MI5 officers who drove him to a quiet cafe in a park to talk.
Hassan was asked if he was born in the U.K., when was the last time he went to Pakistan, and if he had ever met any extremist groups. He replied that he hadn’t and explained that he has family in Pakistan and went there because he needed a holiday.
“They wanted me to spy within the community. If I thought somebody’s thoughts were wrong or that he was going to commit criminal activity, I was to speak to them straight away,” Hassan said.
He claims that the security services offered him incentives in return for spying:
“They said to me if you’ve got speeding tickets they’ll be waived and if you’ve got family abroad we can arrange for them to come here and they won’t have to go through the system of getting a visa,” he claimed.
He continued: “I said you don’t have to give me these incentives. If I saw something wrong I would report it. It seemed like they were very, very desperate.”
After the first meeting, the visits became more regular and Hassan was called every week. On one occasion, he was shown a photograph of a man and asked if he knew him.
While the men making the allegations are left feeling anxious, the Home Office told ITV they “don’t comment on the operational work of the security agencies.”
“It’s not a nice thing looking back,” Hassan said. “For weeks I was trying to convince myself it was something they had to do — to eliminate me — but then I felt bitter. Why did they have to talk to me? I’m not a criminal, I don’t want to hurt anyone and didn’t want to be a spy.”
Some might say there is more to this than meets the eye, and the airing of these sinister allegations on mainstream TV is a nothing but a ploy to sow mistrust and discord among the Muslim community.