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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 December, 2003, 12:36 GMT
UK student 'arrested in Iraq'
The arrest reportedly took place near Irbil
Kurdish forces in Iraq have arrested a UK student and detained him for questioning, it has been reported.

The Times newspaper said Urslaan Khan, 21, from Yarm, in Teesside, was picked up by a security police patrol in early November near Irbil, in northern Iraq.

Kurdish forces told the paper they believed he travelled to Iraq to join Ansar al-Islam.

The US has designated the group as its main "terrorist adversary" in postwar Iraq.

"Routine patrol"

Saba Rhader Kerem, a member of the Kurdish forces that arrested Mr Khan, told The Times: "He had his British passport with him but could not give a reason for being here.

"A routine patrol stopped him about four weeks ago.

"He was travelling with another man who says he did not know him.

"We have been interrogating him for a long time now and we believe he travelled to Iraq to join Ansar al-Islam, a terrorist group fighting the coalition forces."

The paper said a UK diplomat had managed to see Mr Khan and that he was in good health, and had not been charged.

Student of Arabic

Mr Khan was taking Arabic Studies at Manchester University's Department of Middle Eastern Studies and was spending his third year at Egypt's University of Alexandria.

This is very distressing but we have been in touch with the Foreign Office and they are doing the best they can
Sajida Khan
His father, Abdul Khan, said his son had stopped making regular weekend phone calls home but refused to believe his son would join a radical group fighting coalition troops, the paper said.

It said Mr Khan described his son as "an adventurer and a bit impulsive" and said his son believed in democracy, not terrorism.

The Times quoted Urslaan's mother Sajida as saying: " Like many parents who have children living abroad we are very worried because we don't know what is happening with our son.

"This is very distressing but we have been in touch with the Foreign Office and they are doing the best they can."

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