Allerede til uken kan Al Qaidas åndelige leder i Europa, Abu Qatada, ble løslatt, etter at Menneskerettsdomstolen i Strasbourg forbød utlevering til Jordan.
Historien om Ab Qatada er samtidig historien om et land som har mistet orienteringsevnen. Den minner om norske myndigheters behandling av mullah Krekar. Noe er alvorlig galt når farlige terroristers menneskerettigheter står over interessene til menneskene de truer.
Abu Qatada: the evil let loose on our streets
By Michael Burleigh, and Tom Whitehead8:51PM GMT 10 Feb 2012
The saga of Abu Qatada is like a mirror to the society we have become. The Jordanian Palestinian was born Omar Othman in Bethlehem in 1960. He entered Britain on a forged United Arab Emirates passport in 1993 and was granted asylum the following year. Since 2002, Qatada has spent most of his time in detention, because successive home secretaries, including Theresa May, have argued that he is “a very dangerous man”, though – uniquely – the BBC say he is a “radical”, not an “extremist’. In reality, Qatada is listed on the consolidated United Nations list of international terrorists under “Al-Qaeda Associates”.
Although British judges decided he could be deported to Jordan, they were overruled by their counterparts in Strasbourg. However, it is the British justice system that is responsible for Qatada’s prospective release from detention, as early as Monday, and the likely lapse of revised home supervision arrangements. During his odyssey through the courts, Qatada has been assiduously represented by the likes of Gareth Peirce, with his rights championed by NGOs such as Justice. It is tempting to wonder how much lawyers’ fees have cost the British taxpayer.
Home to Mr Qatada in recent years has been the detainee wing at Long Lartin maximum security prison in Worcestershire. A quarter of the inmates are Muslims, but Qatada is not allowed near them. He is one of nine “detainees” who refused to join the larger pool of vulnerable prisoners lest they be stigmatised as sex offenders.
An HM Prisons Inspectorate report last August offers a stark picture of the jail and the concerns of contemporary British bureaucrats as they strive for “best practice”. Inspectors worry that the dowdy kitchens require a lick of paint, and that the view through external fences could be improved. However, they say, there has been some progress in combating racism and in catering for gay and transgender inmates. Inevitably, though, some detainees are depressed, but thankfully there is “self-guided mental-health software” available on computers, entitled Beating the Blues.
Meanwhile, let’s not lose sight of Mrs Qatada, who uses the name Ibtisan Saleh, and the five Qatada children, four of whom are entitled to welfare provision. Before his detention, Qatada received a range of taxpayer benefits totalling about £50,000 a year. Apart from incapacity benefit for his bad back, there was a further £800 a week in child benefits, housing and council tax credits, and income support. That’s £500,000 over a decade – plus the lawyers’ fees that, of course, have been funded by the state.
The family lived in an £800,000 four-bedroom semi in Acton, west London, before moving to Wembley during Qatada’s most recent enforced absence. The fact that on his initial arrest in February 2001 he had £170,000 in cash, including an envelope containing £805 destined “For the Mujahideen in Chechnya”, seems to have had no bearing on these handouts. In fact, incarceration has brought the occasional bonus, such as the £2,500 Qatada scooped when the European Court of Human Rights ruled a period of detention in Belmarsh unlawful and unfroze his assets.
The reasons why Qatada is called a “very dangerous man” are not hard to establish, even without the secret intelligence available to the Special Tribunals that licensed his detention. He was al-Qaeda’s chief source of spiritual incitement and legitimisation in Europe. In essence, he tailored Islam for terrorist purposes.
Indeed, a 2009 online list of required reading for terrorists – called A Mujahid’s Bookbag – includes 81 lengthy works and 98 articles by Abu Qatada. Nineteen of his audio-cassette sermons were found by German police in the Hamburg apartment of Mohammed Atta, the lead 9/11 hijacker. In the year before the US attacks, Qatada was visited 20 times in London by Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, who was jailed in Spain for 27 years for his part in the 9/11 conspiracy.
The Jordanians convicted Qatada of involvement in two conspiracies. The first was an Algerian-Palestinian plot to blow up the packed SAS Radisson Hotel in Amman in 1998; the second was the so-called “Millennium Plot”, involving three strikes on the same hotel in Amman, Los Angeles airport, and the USS The Sullivans, although the overladen suicide boat sank off Yemen as it was about to attack and Algerian terrorists were pre‑empted in Los Angeles.
The recurring references to Algerians are no coincidence: Abu Qatada’s main contribution to the global jihadist movement came in the Nineties, at the height of the Islamist carnage in that country. Qatada is a salafist-takfiri theologian. That means he is an ultra-fundamentalist, so extreme that he regards most run-of-the-mill Muslim regimes, and those who serve them, as heretics worse than mere infidels.
He issued fatwas calling for the “justified” killing not only of Algerian officials, policemen and soldiers, but their wives and families, too. He put his spiritual imprimatur on the Armed Islamic Group (better known as the GIA) which, with its even more extreme successors, killed between 150,000 and 200,000 people in Algeria in the late Nineties. Many victims had their throats cut.
We know more about this period of Abu Qatada’s life than any other, because he fell out with the Syrian ideologue and bona fide jihadist Abu Mus’ab al-Suri whom he had met in Afghanistan. After the two collaborated in London, al-Suri grew to hate Qatada so much that he wrote a 150-page book on him, noting that Qatada had joined the Afghan Mujahideen only after the fighting was over.
All this global incitement took place in London, under the noses of the British security services. And, while here, Qatada has never exactly concealed his true feelings for his new home: in one sermon in the Finsbury Park mosque in 1999, he said that Americans should be attacked, and that they and the British people were no different from Jews, whom he had already said should all be killed. Only after 9/11 and the 2005 bombs in London was Qatada deemed “very dangerous”.
This protracted farce is set to continue as judges preside over the dedicated representations of Qatada’s rights by Ms Peirce, formerly the lawyer of choice for Irish Republicans. The Prime Minister may have spoken to King Abdullah of Jordan and agreed to work on finding a “solution” to the case, but this particular vine is unlikely to bear much fruit.
So, realising they are on the wrong side of public opinion, the Government will continue to huff and puff about Qatada being turned loose in Wembley, while cowering before the Lib Dems and such colleagues as Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve, both senior lawyers. Local bureaucrats will continue to dispense our money to Mrs Qatada and their children, despite that £170,000 cash sum which Qatada will expect to have returned on his release.
Any government serious about our security would put Qatada on a one-way flight to Jordan, disdaining the opinion of judges in Strasbourg. That is what our no less civilised, but undoubtedly less decadent, allies in France and Italy would do. Indeed, the tougher-minded Italians have simply deported several jihadists to Tunisia, blithely discounting trivial fines and the disapprobation of Strasbourg. But then these countries are part of cultures that are not so piously craven in the face of the overpaid zealots of the human rights racket.
When has the BBC investigated the NGOs and law firms that represent the likes of Qatada? Its puritanical attitude to abstract human rights has resulted in a failure to ask elementary questions, thanks to those who exhibit a deadly combination of intellectual infirmity and moralising self-righteousness.
How did conventions and laws designed after 1945 to prevent us being murdered in concentration camps and gulags degenerate into prisoners’ rights to have pornography in their cells or to vote in elections? Since when did the Qatadas of this world get the right to license suicide bombings in friendly countries?
A government that practised leadership would ensure that those questions were at least posed, rather than fear what is merely bien pensant opinion – including those so softly decadent that they dub Qatada a “radical”, a designation more suited to Joseph Chamberlain.
Or is the Government just terrified of the likes of Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, or what will doubtless soon be Lady Shami Chakrabarti, that it thinks it can defy the massed outrage of the British people?
Abu Qatada: the evil let loose on our streets
His family has cost the taxpayer more than £500,000 in benefits, while his sermons are required reading for terrorists. But next week Abu Qatada could be freed from prison.