On 19 April 2004, over 400 police officers conducted dawn ‘anti-terror’ raids across the UK and arrested ten people on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. Within hours, the arrests were connected to an Al-Qaida plot to blow up Old Trafford – the home of Manchester United Football Club. Police sources were quoted in newspapers as saying “the plot involved several individual bombers in separate parts of the stadium”.
Six men and a woman were arrested in Manchester and three men were arrested in Staffordshire, South Yorkshire and the West Midlands. They were identified as North Africans and Iraqi Kurds. They were all held for eight days and then released without charge.
Rebaz Ali and Shadman Sofi, both Iraqi Kurds, were two of those arrested and detained. Their ‘connection’ to an alleged plot to blow up Old Trafford came from ‘evidence’ found at their home – a Manchester United match fixture list, t-shirts, posters and old ticket stubs. The reason the men had these items in their possession is that both men were simply life-long supporters of Manchester United.