Sunday, March 06, 2016

'Reformed' UK jihadi arrested over '£1.2million eBay fraud to raise cash for terror':

  • Hassan Butt, 35, arrested after anti-terror police raid his Manchester home
  • He is accused of taking money for iPads/iPhones and not delivering goods
  • Former extremist Butt previously advised Labour on fighting extremism  
Hassan Butt, pictured, 35, became an extremist after the 9/11 attacks but later advised Labour ministers on how to combat extremism
Hassan Butt, pictured, 35, became an extremist after the 9/11 attacks but later advised Labour ministers on how to combat extremism
A notorious Islamic extremist who went on to advise Labour Ministers as a ‘reformed jihadi’ has been arrested on suspicion of funding terrorism after allegedly running a £1.2 million scam on eBay.

Hassan Butt, who once boasted of recruiting hundreds of Britons for the Taliban, is accused of conning thousands of customers out of money, after advertising and taking money for iPhones and iPads via the online auction site but never delivering the products.

The former extremist advertised the products through his company, Mi Genie, which had its own web pages on eBay. 

The alleged scam is believed to be one of the biggest frauds eBay has faced in the UK.

Butt, 35, was reported to police after eBay’s own investigation teams detected suspicious activity within Mi Genie’s pages. 

He was arrested at his home in Manchester by anti-terrorist detectives from Scotland Yard. More than 30 officers also searched his property.

A business partner of Butt was also arrested and his property was raided in nearby Bury, Lancashire, last September. Both men were bailed last week until a date later this month.

British-born Butt became an infamous extremist in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. 

He was a senior member of the now-banned extremist group Al-Muhajiroun, who was sent to Pakistan to set up a local branch of the group.

Butt set up his base in the northern city of Lahore, from where he boasted to the world’s media that he had recruited and trained hundreds of British jihadis for the Taliban who had crossed the border into Afghanistan to fight British and American forces.

But after the 7/7 attacks in London that killed 52 commuters, Butt apparently had a change of heart, and claimed he renounced his extremism. 

He admitted knowing the ringleader of the attacks, Mohammed Sidique Khan, but began advising then Labour ministers such as Tony McNulty on how to combat extremism.

Butt publicly urged Muslims to confront the ideology that lures young men and women to terrorism.

However, police suspicion that Butt was an extremist and terrorist sympathiser never went away, and before the latest arrest, Butt had been detained by anti-terrorist detectives five times on suspicion of terrorism.

The eBay scam came to light in the run-up to Christmas 2014, when Mi Genie suddenly started selling iPhones and iPads. Since being founded in 2012, the firm had until then only sold Christmas jumpers.

Hundreds of disgruntled customers began complaining on online forums that they had ordered and paid £300 or more for iPhones which they never received.

The online complaints combined with eBay’s own automated fraud triggers alerted the auction site’s investigators, who then closed down Mi Genie’s pages.

But thousands of buyers had allegedly been conned out of a total £1.2 million.

 Ebay, which refused to say how much money customers were duped out of, said that everyone had been reimbursed by the online auction firm itself.

Last night, eBay said in a statement: ‘No customer was left out of pocket. We refunded every customer in full at the time of the event.

'We have dedicated in-house detection teams and alert systems in place to identify suspicious behaviour very quickly. 

'Our teams share information with law enforcement agencies around the world to keep our marketplace safe for customers.’

A Met Police spokesman said: ‘Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, supported by colleagues from Greater Manchester Police, have arrested two men on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud.

‘One man, 35, was arrested at an address in the north Manchester area, and a second man, aged 32, was arrested at an address in the Bury area. 

'The arrests are in relation to an investigation into an online auction fraud.’

Butt was not available for comment last night. But his brother, Omer, 39, a dentist who himself was once charged then cleared of assaulting a police officer, said the arrest and raid was part of a police plot to persecute his family.

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