An Islamist preacher who described the 7/7 bombings as a “great victory” for al-Qaeda cannot be deported from Britain, despite repeated attempts by successive governments.
Hani al-Sibai said the London bombings 10 years ago had “rubbed the noses of the world's eight most powerful countries in the mud” and would be bad for the British economy, in a television interview the day after the attacks.
MPs have now renewed calls to deport al-Sibai, in light of reports that he is living in West London on £50,000 of state benefits. Al-Sibai was also reportedly a mentor to ‘Jihadi John’, the Islamic State executioner unmasked as Briton Mohammed Emwazi, and has been described by international terrorism experts as a “key influencer” of the group suspected to be behind the Tunisian beach massacre.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, told the Daily Mail he would be writing to Home Secretary Theresa May to ask her why al-Sibai is still in the country.
He said: “It is extraordinary that successive governments have been trying but failing to remove someone who has these worrying links. The way he has foiled attempts to remove him are a cause for enormous concern.”
Peter Bone, a Conservative MP, said: ”This is the sort of thing that drives my constituents mad. I expect the home secretary to deal with this urgently. There is a very strong case for him to be deported. He needs to be dealt with.”
The British government has made repeated attempts to deport al-Sibai, 54, who lives in a £1m housing association house in Hammersmith, West London, to his native Egypt over the past 15 years, after his asylum application was turned down on security grounds.
But these have been frustrated on human rights grounds because al-Sibai, who has been convicted of terrorism offences in Egypt, is at risk of being executed or tortured if he is sent back home. He arrived in Britain in 1994, and claimed he had been tortured by authorities because he had acted as a lawyer for the opposition Muslim Brotherhood.
Since then, the cleric has established the al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies, which he has used as a platform to praise Islamist causes. He has been named by the UN and the European Commission and as a supporter of Al-Qaeda, and is banned from entering the United States.
A paper, published in 2013 by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in the Hague, names al-Shibai as a “key influencer” of Ansar al-Sharia, the Tunisian Islamist group thought to have radicalised Seifeddine Rezgui, 23, the gunman behind the Sousse beach massacre of 38 people, including 30 British tourists, last month.
In pictures: The 10th anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings
In pictures: The 10th anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings
1/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
Security staff and workers from Hyde Park observe a minutes silence at the 7/7 memorial in Hyde Park
2/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
People pause for a minutes silence at Kings Cross Underground station in London, as Britain remembers the July 7 attacks amid a welter of warnings about the enduring and changing threat from terrorism a decade on
3/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
Members of staff working within the grounds observe a minutes silence to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the July 7 terrorist attacks at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon
4/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
Police officers within the grounds observe a minutes silence to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the July 7 terrorist attacks at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon
5/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
Representatives from 7 Company, Coldstream Guards and HQ London District join the national act of remembrance for the 7th July bombings 10th year anniversary beside the Ministry of Defence Main Building in central London and led by Rabbi Major Reuben Livingstone
6/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
People observe a nationwide minute's silence on the 10 year anniversary of the 7/7 London attacks which killed 52 people, facing in the direction of a plaque and flowers laid at the location of where a suicide bomber blew themselves up during the morning rush hour on a bus in Tavistock Square
7/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
George Psaradakis (centre), the driver of the number 30 bus which was blown up in Tavistock Square, looks at floral tributes left close to the scene of the bombings in London
8/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
People stop to observe a minute's silence at Aldgate underground station, in memory of the victims of the July 7 bombings
9/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
Flowers left by the July 7 memorial plaque at Aldgate Station, London, which names those who were killed in the bombings at the station
10/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
Members of various religious groups pray during a service in St Paul's Cathedral, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the London Bombings in London
11/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
Poppy petals fall from the roof during a service in St Paul's Cathedral, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the London Bombings in London
12/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
A police officer looks at flowers left at Kings Cross Underground station in London
13/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
Flowers left by the July 7 memorial plaque at Aldgate Station
14/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
Boris Johnson and David Cameron place wreathes at the July 7 memorial in Hyde Park, London
15/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
David Cameron and Boris Johnson take part in a wreath laying ceremony in London's Hyde Park, in memory of the 52 victims of the 7/7 London attacks
16/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
David Cameron and Boris Johnson during a ceremony at the memorial to the victims of the July 7, 2005 London bombings, in Hyde Park
17/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
From left: Paul Crowther, Chief Constable, British Transport Police, Adrian Leppard, Commissioner City of London Police, and Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, carry wreathes at the July 7 memorial in Hyde Park
18/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
People look at flowers left in Tavistock Square
19/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
7/7 survivor Gill Hicks (centre) arrives with flowers at Russell Square tube station
20/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
People embrace outside Edgware Road tube station, as Britain remembers the July 7 attacks
21/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
A lady carrying flowers leaves Russell Square tube station
22/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
Faith leaders promote religious unity in central London, as Britain prepares to mark 10th anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings in which 52 people were killed
23/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
Gill Hicks, (L) a survivor of the 7/7 London terror attacks, embraces police constable Andrew Maxwell outside Kings Cross Station in London, during an event to launch a walk by faith leaders promoting religious unity ahead of the anniversary of the attacks
24/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
A memorial dedicated to the 52 people that were killed during the 7/7 terror attacks in London is pictured in London's Hyde Park
25/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
The July 7 memorial in Hyde Park
26/26 7/7 bombings anniversary
A memorial dedicated to the 52 people that were killed during the 7/7 terror attacks in London is cleaned in London's Hyde Park
Al-Sibai, his wife and five children are able to exceed the £26,000 benefit cap because Al-Sibai and his wife are disabled, and are able to claim disability living allowance, the Daily Mail reported. The paper said that al-Sibai is being investigated for alleged benefit fraud.
In the TV interview, broadcast on the Qatari TV channel al-Jazeera in 8 July, 2005, al-Sibai said: If Al-Qaeda indeed carried out this act [the 7/7 bombings, it is a great victory for it. It rubbed the noses of the world's eight most powerful countries in the mud. This victory is a blow to the economy."
The Department for Work and Pensions said: “People who commit, plan and support acts of terror will be prosecuted and anyone who has been deported or sent to prison will lose their benefits.”
The Home Office said it did not comment on specific immigration and asylum cases.Reuse content