London, May 21 (ANI): Britain's premier counter-intelligence and security agency MI5 has been accused of waging a campaign of blackmail and harassment to recruit five Muslim community workers as informants.
The men claim they were given a choice of working for the Security Service or facing detention and harassment in the UK and overseas.
They have made official complaints to the police, to the body, which oversees the work of the Security Service, and to their local MP Frank Dobson, The Independent reports.
Now, community workers have decided to speak publicly about their experiences in the hope that publicity will stop similar tactics being used in the future.
Intelligence gathered by informers is crucial to stopping further terror outrages, but the men's allegations raise concerns about the coercion of young Muslim men by the Security Service and the damage this does to the gathering of information in the future.
Three of the men say they were detained at foreign airports on the orders of MI5 after leaving Britain on family holidays last year.
After they were sent back to the UK, MI5 officers who, they say, falsely accused them of links to Islamic extremism interviewed them.
On each occasion the agents said they would lift the travel restrictions and threat of detention in return for their co-operation. When the men refused some of them received what they say were intimidating phone calls and threats, the Paper reports.
Two other Muslim men say they were approached by MI5 at their homes after police officers posed as postmen. Each of the five men, aged between 19 and 25, was warned that if he did not help the security services he would be considered a terror suspect.
A sixth man was held by MI5 for three hours after returning from his honeymoon in Saudi Arabia. He too claims he was threatened with travel restrictions if he tried to leave the UK.
An agent who gave her name as Katherine is alleged to have made direct threats to Adydarus Elmi, a 25-year-old cinema worker from north London. (ANI)