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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 February 2007, 01:20 GMT
Call for 'kidnap plot' anonymity
Police search property
Police have been searching addresses in the city
A Birmingham businessman has called for gagging orders to shield the identities of the nine men arrested over an alleged kidnapping plot in the city.

Police have not revealed identities but some names have appeared in newspapers.

Speakers at a public meeting held at Birmingham Central Mosque said they were concerned about the "media frenzy" before anyone was charged or convicted.

Businessman Tariq Mahmood said the reputation of the men and the community could be tainted.

Mr Mahmood, from Alum Rock where some of the arrests were made, said: "There is no evidence, that we know of, but pure speculation, statements from the Home Secretary, houses raided and the media frenzy.

"The media will go away, the politics will move on but we will feel the effects of this farce for years to come."

'Leaks' concern

Moazzam Begg, who was detained by the US at Guantanamo Bay without charge before being released, was among the others to attend the meeting.

He was critical of the apparent leaking of information to journalists ahead of the raids.

"I hope that when the truth manifests itself that, metaphorically, heads will roll with the people who put out these stories in the first place," he said.

Some speakers also called for an Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into the possible leaks to the media.

And the government was accused of demonising Muslims and alienating the community.

The nine men are being held under the Terrorism Act at a Coventry police station on suspicion of planning to kidnap and murder a Muslim soldier.

On Friday, Assistant Chief Constable David Shaw acknowledged he was aware of "considerable bewilderment" in the community about what had been alleged to have taken place but stressed that his officers had only released the most basic information about the investigation.

"Despite certain labels given to those men by the media, what we are dealing with here in its purest sense is criminality," he said.


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