A former Islamist radical who says he helped 200 British Muslims train for jihad has been arrested on terrorism charges at Manchester airport.
Hassan Butt, 27, who claims to have once been a spokesman for the banned group al-Muhajiroun, was arrested on Friday.
A spokeswoman for Greater Manchester Police said: '[Our] counter-terrorism unit arrested one person under the Terrorism Act. Officers are currently searching three addresses. No armed officers were involved in the arrest.'
Butt has attracted notoriety for his inflammatory comments - which he has subsequently retracted. In an interview with Prospect magazine, he once said he would be honoured to be called a terrorist. 'I would agree to being called a radical and one day I may even be called a terrorist, if Allah permits me,' he said. 'That is something it would be an honour to be called.'
He has also warned that thousands of young Muslims were preparing to unleash fresh 'terror atrocities' on Britain's streets. Following the 2007 Glasgow airport attack, he alleged on BBC2's Newsnight that 'most Muslims' believed terrorism gained them an admission to paradise and that 'anything that is not an Islamic way of life' was a legitimate target.
The comments brought a scathing denial from Muslim groups and many have dismissed Butt as a fantasist and possible MI5 informer who does not speak for the organisations he claims to represents. Critics have also questioned why he has not been arrested and charged in the past, given his open confessions.
Butt recently said he was prepared to go to prison for his views. 'I'm not in denial about anything,' he said. 'I'm not asking for immunity or favours. I just want to be able to get on with my life and undo the work that I did.'
He claimed that Greater Manchester Police were harassing him over suspicions that he is secretly still a jihadist and that the Home Office encourages his efforts to speak out against radicalisation. More recently, he has gone to great lengths to retract his radical views and attack those who espouse violence.
Butt is currently writing a book about his experiences. Police recently raided the house of a journalist, Shiv Malik, who was collaborating with him on the manuscript.
Source: Guardian (English)
See also: UK: A plea to fellow Muslims, UK: New foundation against Islamist extremism