A MALE suspect in a major anti-terrorist investigation in Britain escaped capture by allegedly disguising himself as a Muslim woman dressed in a burka, The Times can reveal.
The man, who was wanted in connection with serious terrorist offences, evaded arrest for several days as police searched for him across the country.
The fact that a fugitive remained at large after disguising himself in an Islamic dress which covered his face will further fuel the debate sparked by Jack Straw, Leader of the House of Commons, about the wearing of the veil.
Details of the man’s true identity were circulated to ports and airports to try to prevent him leaving the country.
He was eventually caught and is now one of more than 90 suspects in British prisons awaiting trial on terror charges.
The suspect’s name and the detail of the offences he is accused of cannot be revealed because of the danger of prejudicing his forthcoming trial.
It is the first time that a male suspect has allegedly disguised himself as a Muslim woman in Britain. However, the tactic has been used frequently by Islamist fighters — including suicide bombers — in Iraq and Afghanistan. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, often dressed in a burka to evade American forces hunting him.
Counter-terrorist agencies in Britain and Europe have long been concerned about the readiness of male Islamist terrorists to wear female clothing.
The issue of people hiding their faces under the burka, which covers the whole face, or behind the niqab, which exposes only the eyes, has also posed difficulties for banks, immigration authorities and benefit offices. But questions of security have tended to be overruled by the need to maintain good community relations.
Source: The Times (English)