The chairman of a Crawley mosque attended by a man arrested by counter-terrorism police has described him as “a friendly person”.
Arif Syed, chairman of the mosque in Broadwood Rise, Broadfield, spoke after the 40-year-old man was released on bail having been arrested on Wednesday (January 7).
Mr Syed said: “I know him very well and he’s not a terrorist.
“I’ve known him for a good seven or eight years. He’s a very friendly person and is very popular.
“Looking at what his neighbours have said, he’s a good man. He’s a kind person and very popular, that much is known.”
One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “I’m not concerned because he’s a lovely bloke.
“He’s been here a few years, at least five or six years. He’s just lovely there’s nothing suspicious about him at all.”
Officers from the South East Counter Terrorism Unit (SECTU), working with Sussex Police, made the arrest under Section 11 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
A police spokesman confirmed the arrest related to suspicions the man had been involved with a group fighting in the war in Syria.
The news of the arrest left Mr Syed – who has worked for years to promote community cohesion in the area – worried.
He described his concern about Crawley being thrust into the limelight over counter-terrorism investigations again, he said: “I’m so worried because it’s a beautiful town.
“The damage is done – the whole of the national limelight is on us and I don’t know what will come of this.”
He added: “I’m still very worried but not as frightened as much as I was yesterday.
“Hopefully in a few weeks or a few months, things will get back to normal.”
The 40-year-old man was released on bail last night until May.