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Syrian refugee family 'face backlash after terror arrest'

Abo Ziad, his wife and two sons given police protection after cousin held over bombing.

Abo Ziad: Family anxious and confused.
Abo Ziad: Family anxious and confused. STV

A Syrian refugee family living in Scotland have faced a frightening backlash after one of their relatives was arrested over the Parsons Green bombing in London.

Abo Ziad, who settled in Greenock after being brought to the UK by the UN in 2015, revealed his family has been placed under police protection after being the target of abuse.

In an exclusive interview with STV News, the 35-year-old said he has received a number of online threats, which led to his wife and two sons being temporarily relocated by the authorities for their own safety.

The refugee is adamant his family want to stay in Greenock because they have not done anything wrong, although the authorities have offered to relocate them anywhere in the UK.

His cousin Yahyah Farroukh was arrested in London last month after a homemade bomb was left on a London tube train in Parsons Green.

The 21-year-old was released by the Met Police without charge, while Iraqi national Ahmed Hassan, 18, has appeared in court charged with planting the device.

Abo Ziad told STV of the confusion and anxiety his family has experienced.

Yahyah Farroukh: Abo Ziad's cousin was released without charge.
Yahyah Farroukh: Abo Ziad's cousin was released without charge.

He said: "The first thing I felt was fear because I didn't understand what was going to come out of it. I've got nothing to do with what happened.

"My youngest son is seven and he's now scared of everyone. There was somebody who came to check the gas and my son ran away... he fears that someone is going to take him away or take me away."

The father-of-two was among the hundreds of refugees who were brought to Scotland in November 2015 after fleeing the war in Syria.

He said he had been drafted into the Syrian army against his will but he managed to flee before the situation rapidly deteriorated.

Media reports of him being related to Mr Farroukh surfaced in the days after the bombing on September 15, which Mr Ziad said led to him receiving abusive messages and threats.

He said the episode has led to him and his wife seeking medical treatment for depression.

Home: Refugee says his family do not want to relocate.
Home: Refugee says his family do not want to relocate. STV
Abuse: One of the messages received by Abo Ziad.
Abuse: One of the messages received by Abo Ziad. STV

He added: "It's shocking that it happened. My children and I have also been victims of the attack because our reputation has been ruined. There were children on that train.

"I imagine myself and my children on that train also. These people [responsible for the attack] deserve the worst punishment possible."

One message sent to Mr Ziad, seen by STV News, called him "scum" and said he should "get out of our country, you are a threat to Scotland and we don't want you here".

Although he has received support from some within his local community, Mr Ziad said he wanted to speak out to emphasise his lack of involvement, to enable his children to return to normality.

He said: "We've come here for asylum so why would we jeopardise that trust and cause terror?

"I do thank the council for giving me the option to move house anywhere in the UK but I had to decline because we haven't done anything wrong. I want to stay in Greenock because we're innocent."

Parsons Green: Homemade bomb deployed at tube station.
Parsons Green: Homemade bomb deployed at tube station. Richard Aylmer-Hall/PA

Following the threatening messages, Mr Ziad and his family were moved from their Greenock home to a hotel by local authorities for a week.

They have been brought back to their home in the town while Inverclyde Council looks to permanently relocate them.

Mr Ziad said: "The council kept offering to relocate my family, move house, start again, but I said I'm not going to move.

"This has been my home for two years, we don't want to start again, I'm certain I've not done anything, I'm sure my cousin hasn't done anything."

Interview: Abo Ziad spoke to STV News.
Interview: Abo Ziad spoke to STV News. STV

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