The Muslim-loving British police get madder every day
He was the poster boy for jihadist extremism who become one of its most vocal opponents, meeting a government minister and being offered Home Office funding to support his deradicalisation work among young Muslims. But now Hassan Butt is under arrest and at the centre of a high-stakes legal battle that goes to the core of Britain's fight against terrorism.
Hassan Butt sent dozens of British Muslims to training camps in Pakistan, raised money for the Taleban and once boasted of his desire "to kill or be killed for the sake of Allah". His words and deeds in support of Islamist terrorism were reported widely between 2001 and 2004, yet he was never charged with any offence.
After the suicide attacks on London in July 2005, he embarked on a lengthy and painful reexamination of his beliefs, eventually repudiating violence and emerging as a passionate critic of the cause he once espoused. Since early 2007 Mr Butt, 28, has denounced al-Qaeda in numerous newspaper articles, in international television interviews and in debate at the Cambridge Union. However, he has been labelled a traitor to Islam by his former comrades and in April last year was stabbed in the street by two assailants.
Ten days ago, as he prepared to board a flight to Pakistan, Mr Butt was arrested - and is still detained - under the Terrorism Act. If his rejection of violence was not a sham, then Greater Manchester Police - whose investigation is being carried out independently of Counter Terrorism Command at Scotland Yard - may be about to face more than a few tough questions.
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