- 12 men of Pakistani origin abused girl in Keighley, West Yorkshire, when she was 13
- But some members of the Muslim community feel 'she played her part'
- Suspected ringleader Arif Chowdhury, 20, 'fled to Bangladesh in 2012'
- Keighley was recently named among the ‘least integrated’ places in the UK
One of the most familiar buildings in Keighley — an old mill town in the heart of Bronte country in West Yorkshire — is the former police station, with its underground car park, on Devonshire Street.
The ‘cop shop car park’ — as it is still known today — is the unofficial divide between Keighley’s two Asian areas: Highfield, which lies on a hill rising from the centre of Keighley up towards the moors, and, at the opposite end, Dalton Lane and Lawkholme.
Young Asians from these neighbourhoods refer to themselves as ‘Top Enders’ and ‘Bottom Enders’ respectively. Rivalries between them, fuelled by the drugs trade, have sometimes spilled over into violence.
Khalid Mahood (left), 34, was given an extended sentence of 17 years and Saqib Younis (right), 29, from Keighley jailed for 13 years at Bradford Crown Court
One such drug dealer was teenager Arif Chowdhury. He is 20 now but he was 15 when this story begins.
His ‘runner’ back then was a vulnerable 13-year-old white girl from a broken home. She didn’t just deliver drugs (heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis, steroids) to Chowdhury’s low-life customers, she also became his sexual property and was passed around his associates.
The location where much of the abuse took place was the underground car park of the disused police station, a perverse irony in the circumstances, which has now been converted to an office block. The words ‘Top End’ are daubed in big blue letters near the entrance.
After one sustained attack, they mocked their victim by scrawling their names next to hers on the wall of a parking bay, in the same way that, say, young lovers might innocently carve their initials on a tree.
The car park, which became a dungeon for the girl, was just yards from Keighley’s main shopping thoroughfare on Devonshire Street. Often, people would be walking past on the pavement, virtually above her head, while she was being raped.
Faisal Khan (left), 27, from Keighley was jailed for 13 years at Bradford Crown Court and Sufyan Ziarab (right), 22, from Keighley, Yorkshire, for 15 years
Sometimes, Chowdhury went so far as to ‘share’ the girl with rival Asians from Dalton Lane and Lawkholme, the so-called ‘Bottom Enders’. Such was their collective contempt for the girl that traditional rivalries were set aside. In all, 12 Asian youths and men took it in turns to violate her in the course of one hellish year.
The persecution was not just physical. The perpetrators also telephoned her at home and called her a ‘slut’ and a ‘slag’. One of her tormentors turned up at her house when her mother and stepfather were out and threatened to douse the property in petrol and set it alight unless she had sex with him.
She was insulted on Facebook, and, once, when she was out with her grandmother in the town centre, they shouted out: ‘We’ll see you tonight.’
The punishment handed down to the culprits a few days ago at Bradford Crown Court, following a complex and lengthy police investigation, reflected the wickedness and depravity of their behaviour: 143 years in total, with individual sentences ranging from three-and-a-half to 20 years.
The judge told the convicted men: ‘The attitudes the majority of you have so clearly demonstrated to these proceedings [constantly joking and waving to their supporters in the public gallery] has been contemptuous, disrespectful and arrogant on a scale I have hardly seen before in many years of practice in criminal law.’
In scenes that echoed a court case in Manchester last week, when a gang of Somali men were convicted of gang rape amid protests from female members of their families, supporters shouted abuse at the judge and jury when the verdicts were read out. The police were called to clear the public gallery.
Tanqueer Hussain (left), 23, from Keighley was jailed for 13 years and received a five year consecutive sentence for the rape of a second underage victim. Bilal Ziarab (right), 21, from Bradford, was jailed for 12 years
One face, however, was missing from the dock: ringleader Arif Chowdhury, who fled abroad while on bail and has escaped capture. He is believed to be in his family’s native Bangladesh and will probably never be brought to justice.
What he and his accomplices did to the girl at the centre of this case was alarmingly reminiscent of similar scandals in Rochdale and Rotherham — the two places that have become inextricably linked in the public’s mind with the phenomenon of Asian street-grooming gangs.
But the list of towns and cities blighted by such paedophile activity in the recent past is much longer than people might think.
There have been at least 14 major trials, like the ones in Rochdale and Rotherham, across the length and breadth of the country: in Oxford, Derby, Leeds, Aylesbury, Telford, Banbury, Middlesbrough, Dewsbury, Carlisle, Burnley and Blackpool. The prosecutions resulted in the conviction of 66 men, many from a Pakistani background.
But even this figure does not reflect the true scale of a problem that liberal commentators are still shamefully reluctant to confront.
The ongoing inquiry in Rotherham alone — which is expected to run until 2018 — has already identified 300 ‘predominantly’ Asian suspects and an estimated 1,400 young female victims over the past 16 years.
Yasser Kabir (left), 25, from was jailed for 15 years and Nasir Khan, 22, from Keighley, was jailed for 13 years
Keighley itself is in the metropolitan borough of Bradford, where child sexual exploitation is monitored by a multi-agency team currently involved in an astonishing 129 separate investigations into grooming in the area, according to a report presented to the local authority in September.
We asked for the ethnic breakdown of the 183 suspects — 66 of whom have been arrested — but at the time of writing this information was not forthcoming.
One doesn’t need the sharpest legal mind to realise that the disturbing factors which contributed to past scandals in other parts of the UK are present here in Keighley.
Perhaps one of the most chilling factors was highlighted earlier this week by local Tory councillor Zafar Ali. It is in his Keighley Central ward that the unfortunate girl was groomed.
‘Like nearly all my fellow Muslims, I want to see these gangs of paedophiles removed from our community and imprisoned for a long time,’ he said.
‘The men who committed these awful crimes are a stain on our community and have done untold damage to Keighley as a town.’
Note the words ‘nearly all my fellow Muslims’. For while many Muslims lead exemplary family lives and share the outrage sparked by these crimes, there is a dangerous minority who do not.
When asked by the Mail this week to explain his statement, the councillor clarified what he meant by the phrase.
Mohammed Akram, 63, was jailed for five years for rape at Bradford Crown Court and Hussain Sardar (right), 19, from Keighley received six years detention in a young offenders institution
‘It is important to be aware that, sadly, a small number of people within the Muslim community do take the view that the victim is partly to blame,’ Zafar Ali told us. ‘They believe it takes two to tango. They must be confronted about their abhorrent views.’
His shocking admission echoes what brave voices such as former Home Secretary Jack Straw and Kris Hopkins, Tory MP for Keighley, have been saying for years.
The backlash against this victim, who is now 18, from some local Muslims began shortly after the 12 men were sent down on Monday.
The following, barely literate outburst was posted on Facebook at 10.07 pm that night.
‘A big shout to all mums who’s son’s got sentenced without any evidence. Am wiv u all . . . today [the victim’s] mother is wiv her Coz she knows here daughter will get a fat compensation lol [laugh out loud] it makes me sick!!! I seen it all. she was good friends wiv my niece!! Yeah some of erm lads did go wiv her but she wanted it and lied [about] her age!!!!’
The girl, remember, was just 13 years old at the time of the attacks. She came from an unhappy home and had been rejected by her mother, a heavy drinker.
During her year-long ordeal, she was frequently beaten.
Three of the convicted — Nazir Khan, 24, his brother Faisal Khan, 27, and Zain Ali, 20 — all lived in Dalton Lane, a small street of terraced houses. The trio, together with Saqib Younis — a cousin of the Khan brothers — and Hussain Sardar, 19 (who was 15 at the time), were found guilty of raping her on a single afternoon in 2012.
Israr Ali (left), 19, from Keighley, received three and a half years detention and Zain Ali, 20, from Keighley, received eight years, both in a young defenders institute
‘There is no evidence against them,’ said a young woman resident of Dalton Lane. ‘They were just charged. It’s a stitch-up.’
Other residents told the same story. One was a close relative of Zain Ali (who was 17 at the time he committed the offences). ‘They have not done it,’ she insisted. ‘Zain was a lovely child. He was so polite. He would do anything for anyone.
‘Our children’s lives have been destroyed. It’s not just our kids who have been punished. All their families have got a life sentence and it’s so unfair.’
The view expressed by some was that even if they might have had sex with a 13-year-old, she had lied about her age and went with them willingly. In other words, in that chilling phrase again, ‘it takes two to tango’.
In fact, the judge went into considerable detail in his summing up that made clear there was nothing consensual about what happened on that afternoon more than three years ago.
On that occasion, five attackers took it in turns to rape the girl in a yard near Dalton Lane.
It was, the judge said, ‘degrading and humiliating’, and ‘prolonged and sustained’ as well as ‘being backed up by Arif’s [Chowdhury] violence and threats’.
Keighley has a population of 56,348, of which 39,971 are white British (71 per cent), according to the last census. There are 10,261 Pakistanis (18 per cent) and around 2,000 Bangladeshis. Unsurprisingly, because of the discredited liberal philosophy of multi-culturalism, which encouraged ethnic minorities to keep their own culture rather than integrate into British ways, the town is geographically divided by race.
Keighley was recently named among the ‘least integrated’ places in the UK in a report by the Policy Exchange think-tank. The findings were based on key indicators such as the number of people who held a British passport, how many households were ethnically mixed, and employment status.
Anyone who believes that race and cultural differences are incidental to these scandals should study the evidence in this most recent case. The young victim was repeatedly called a ‘little white bastard’, ‘little white slag’, and ‘white bitch.’
Almost all the victims of Asian gangs are white girls. Why? A number of reasons have been cited by both Muslims and non-Muslims.
‘I’m not saying it’s not happening to Asian girls,’ Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Muslim youth organisation, the Ramadhan Foundation, told the Mail.
‘But Asian men do not tend to go for Asian girls because someone could come knocking on their door. They do not want fathers or brothers or community leaders speaking out against them.’
Arif Chowdhury, 20, allegedly left for Bangladesh during the investigation after he was arrested in 2012
White girls are seen as more available, more promiscuous and an easy outlet for young Muslims who may be trapped in unhappy arranged marriages.
In extreme cases, such cultural pressures help produce young men like Arif Chowdhury and his cronies who regard white girls as not only ‘available’ but also worthless.
As the judge made clear: ‘She [the victim] demanded pity and understanding, but their view of her was heartless and demeaning. They saw her as a pathetic figure who had no worth and who served no other purpose than to be an object they could sexually misuse and cast aside. They showed her no shred of decency or humanity.’
The girl was introduced to Chowdhury through a friend and soon came under his sociopathic control. She had played truant from school and had run away from home more than 70 times.
It would be all too easy to blame social workers and the police for not doing more to help her, but the judge made no criticism of them.
The truth is that, like so many other vulnerable youngsters, she slipped through the net.
Chowdhury regularly beat her, the court heard. Even if he was not present, the threat of what he might do to her was enough to ensure she did not flee.
Chowdhury lived with his Bangladeshi parents. He had a brother and two sisters, one of whom lived elsewhere. The police, according to neighbours, were regular visitors at their stone-built terrace house.
Although both his parents were unemployed, Chowdhury was always well dressed and had lots of money.
‘He was dealing drugs from the house and in the street,’ said someone who knows the family.
‘His dad was not happy, but he thought he could do what he wanted, so he did.’
Chowdhury was arrested in 2013 after his victim finally found the courage to report him and began to tell her harrowing story to social workers.
Where is Arif Chowdhury now? He is believed to be in his family’s native Bangladesh.
His victim, on the other hand, is serving her own psycho- logical sentence.
‘I have struggled to remain in control of my emotions and life in general,’ she said in a statement which was read out to the court.
Hard to believe that in the eyes of some in the Muslim community in Keighley, her suffering can be reduced to: ‘It takes two to tango.’