Cleric Abu Qatada branded 'truly dangerous'

 

Abu Qatada has been described as "al Qa'ida's spiritual leader in Europe", "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe", "the most significant extremist preacher in the UK" and "a truly dangerous individual".

But since 2001, when fears of the domestic terror threat rose in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, he has challenged, and ultimately thwarted, every attempt by the Government to detain and deport him.

The Jordanian father of five, real name Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman, claimed asylum when he arrived in Britain in September 1993 on a forged passport.

He was allowed to stay and preach, calling on British Muslims to martyr themselves in a holy war on "oppression".

A 1995 "fatwa" he issued justified the killing of converts from Islam, their wives and children in Algeria.

In October 1999 a sermon in London called for the killing of Jews and praised attacks on Americans.

The same year he was convicted in his absence of planning terror attacks in Jordan.

Videos of his sermons were found in the Hamburg flat used by some of the September 11 hijackers.

He was arrested by anti-terror police in February 2001 and found in possession of £170,000 in cash, including £805 in an envelope marked "For the mujahedin in Chechnya".

In the aftermath of the New York attacks he went on the run to avoid being detained without trial or charged under new anti-terror laws.

He avoided capture for more than 10 months but was eventually discovered in a council house in south London, arrested and taken to Belmarsh high-security prison.

Qatada was released in March 2005 and put under a 22-hour home curfew designed to limit his movements and contact with other extremists.

He was rearrested months later but ministers were thwarted in their efforts to deport him because of fears he would be tortured if he returned to Jordan.

As the court battle continued Qatada was released in June 2008 to live in his £800,000 council house in west London before being rearrested in November over fears he would breach his bail conditions.

In 2008, the Court of Appeal ruled in Qatada's favour saying there were reasonable grounds for believing he would be denied a fair trial in Jordan because evidence against him could have been extracted through torture.

But in a landmark judgment in February 2009, five Law Lords unanimously backed the Government's policy of removing terror suspects from Britain on the basis of assurances from foreign governments.

Lord Phillips, now president of the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, went further, saying that evidence of torture in another country "does not require this state, the United Kingdom, to retain in this country, to the detriment of national security, a terrorist suspect".

Former home secretary David Blunkett once described Qatada as the most significant extremist preacher in the UK.

A Spanish judge investigating the Madrid bombings called him "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe" and the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) called him a "truly dangerous individual".

Mr Justice Collins, former Siac chairman, which heard an appeal against his detention, said in 2004: "The appellant was heavily involved, indeed was at the centre in the United Kingdom of terrorist activities associated with al-Qa'ida.

"He is a truly dangerous individual."

He added: "We have no doubt that his beliefs are extreme and are indeed a perversion of Islam for the purposes of encouraging violence against non-Muslims and Muslims who are or have been supportive of Americans in particular."

Qatada has always denied claims that he is al-Qa'ida's European ambassador, and insisted he never met Osama bin Laden.

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
A photograph taken by David Redferm of Sonny Rollins
people
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker