Questioning, pictures and DNA
On 11 September 2008, Nabeel was stopped for the first time at Heathrow airport (London) on his return from Egypt. He was coming to the UK in order to accompany his mother, sister and brother to Egypt for his brother’s wedding. As soon as he set foot on the land, over 9 officers surrounded him. They took him into a separate room and started interrogation. Nabeel was first asked about his personal life and then about Jihad. He said the officers would ask him questions in such a way to get him frustrated and say what they wanted to hear. After the questioning, the officer took DNA samples from Nabeel as well as pictures of him holding a cardboard as done after an arrest. When Nabeel inquired about this procedure he was told that it was a routine questioning.
Prevented from boarding
As planned, the family headed to Egypt in order to attend the elder brother’s wedding. While booking in, they noticed that an officer was observing them and whispered in a check-in staff member’s ear. The same man alongside other officers prevented the family from boarding. They were taken out through the emergency exit, put into a 4x4 and placed into a questioning room. Nabeel had to answer the same questions as previously asked in Heathrow airport, however the interrogators acted more rudely. After several hours of interrogation, the family was released but had missed the flight. This interrogation was especially painful for Nabeel’s younger brother who has severe learning difficulties. These hours spent in a separate room alone with an officer left him shocked and disturbed.
The next day, Nabeel, his mother, his sister and his younger brother went to the airport to get the next flight to Egypt. They were all extremely worried as they did not want to go through the same experience as they had the day before. Even though they were able to board without any problem, they noticed that one of the officers was watching them at the duty free shop. They also noticed that they were followed and watched at all time. They were not troubled upon their return to England, even though the officer who checked their identity at the passport control looked around to find a UK Border agency officer.
Nabeel had to take his family to Egypt again for the birth of his brother’s first child. The family was stopped at the passport control. The officers then emptied the bags carried by the family and took out their personal clothing in front of the other passengers. They then interrogated them, asking the same questions, still in front of the public. The same incident happened when Nabeel came back from Egypt.
Nabeel was to travel to Pakistan for his own wedding. The family was taken for interrogation and was asked the usual questions. However, at the end of the questioning, another officer entered the room. He introduced himself to Nabeel as an MI6 agent and read a letter that stated that they knew about his affiliation with the organisation “Lashkar-e-Tayyiba” and that the British intelligence had been monitoring him for a long time. Nabeel said he entirely disagreed with the content of this letter. He explained that he was proud to be a British citizen and that he had always respected the law.
Loss of British citizenship
On 31 March 2011, the UK border agency deprived him as well as other family members of his British citizenship because security services asserted that he was a committed to extremists who had link to Al Qaeda and the proscribed organisation Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. He became de facto stateless as he does not hold any other nationality.
The harassment suffered by Nabeel and his family has caused him a great stress and disturbance. He went to Egypt to become a teacher and and to be in a position to support his family. However, after his own experience and as he witnessed the harassment of his brother by the British intelligence there, he had to quit his studies and his career.
If you know the Sheikh family, have any more information or simply want to help, then please contact Cageprisoners caseworker, Arnaud Mafille.