A Somali-born Briton was stripped of his citizenship by the home secretary and probably taken in secret to the US for illegal detention and torture as reprisal for his refusal to become an MI5 informant, his family alleges.
Mahdi Hashi grew up in the UK from the age of five and was a British citizen. This summer the 23-year-old went missing, and his family found out that the Home Office had stripped him of his passport for allegedly being involved in Islamic “extremist activities”.
His parents are distraught. They say that Madhi is an innocent victim of a British intelligence plot and that he was punished after he refused to work for MI5.
“All I can say is that Madhi is a Muslim in belief; he is a practicing Muslim. But being a practicing Muslim does not mean an Islamist. That's all why he is being victimized,” says Mahdi's dad Mohamed Hashi.
Back in 2009, Mahdi Hashi was a care worker in the Kentish Town Community Organisation. It was then that he and four of his Muslim colleagues say they were approached and harassed separately by British security agents. Hey claimed that MI5 threatened to label them "Islamic extremists" if they refused to become informants for British intelligence and spy on their Muslim community.
Mahdi refused. He complained to his MP Frank Dobson and the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the body which oversees MI5. He also spoke to the media in a bid to protect himself.
Campaigners from the rights group CagePrisoners, raising awareness for Mahdi's plight, said that the constant threats made by British intelligence made life so unbearable that he left the UK.
"They were trying to offer him a job saying that effectively ‘You're an extremist, we know you are one. The only way out is for you to come and wok for us, to come and help us.’ These were the kind of tactics that were being used,” Asim Qureshi, research director at CagePrisoners, explained to RT.
He added, “He is of Somali origin. This is a purely racist profiling policy of the British government, and particularly its security agencies."
Mahdi had been living in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu for the past two years, taking care of his grandmother and raising a son of his own. This summer he mysteriously went missing. His family believes MI5 had their threat executed.
"My son is missing and I don't know if he is dead or alive. We are very worried, the whole family," says Kaltum Mohamud, Mahdi’s mother.
While Mahdi was out of Britain, Home Secretary Theresa May ordered his British citizenship revoked for the “public good”, using a little-known power she has. She may do so on security grounds to any individual with dual citizenship without a court order.
The UK government decided that Mahdi should be denied the privileges and protection of citizenship due to his “extremist activities”, a letter read.
The only information the Hashi family have now comes from a man who contacted their relatives in Somalia to say that he had been in prison with Mahdi in the African state of Djibouti.
"He told us that he had been fingerprinted and that DNA has been taken from him. The Americans, when they found out he was British citizen, contacted the British consulate and the British consulate said ‘we have already removed British citizenship from him’. And the Americans took him somewhere, somewhere we don't know," Mohamed Hashi told RT.
The family fears Mahdi is being held in custody at Camp Lemmonier in Djibouti. It is a notorious US anti-terrorist base, which is believed to be part of the American extraordinary rendition program. Under the program, terrorism suspects are unlawfully taken to third-party states, allegedly to be illegally detained and tortured.
The Hashi family wants answers to simple questions like what the allegations are against Mahdi, where he is located, or whether he is even alive. But when it comes to matters of intelligence they are faced with a wall of silence. Lawyers acting on behalf of the Hashi family have inquired the Home Office, and the response was most elusive:
“It has been the policy of successive governments neither to confirm nor deny speculation, allegations or assertion in respect of intelligence matters,” it read. “This policy is maintained, and accordingly the secretary of state can neither confirm nor deny the allegations made on behalf of your client.”
"Mahdi's case is a classic case where profiling and ludicrous policies in this War on Terror have resulted with an innocent individual, a helpless young man, having his life ruined," says rights activist Asim Qureshi.
Campaigners say that by stripping Mahdi Hashi of his passport the British government has effectively washed their hands of his case, leaving his family in desperate search for answers about their missing son.