Islamist cleric and al-Qaeda associate Abu Qatada should be tried in Britain following the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that he cannot be deported to Jordan, the Henry Jackson Society argues today.
Qatada, a Jordanian national, stands accused of conspiracy to cause explosions in his home country, but has never been charged with any offences in the UK, despite a long and damning record of terrorist activity. Qatada has served as the spiritual advisor to a host of radical Islamists including 9/11's '20th hijacker' Zacarias Moussaoui and the 2001 'shoe bomber' Richard Reid. He was the mentor of Abu Hamza, the former imam of the Finsbury Park Mosque who was convicted of soliciting to murder and inciting racial hatred in 2006.
Qatada has been linked to the terrorist group Egyptian Islamic Jihad (now merged with al-Qaeda) through Ayman al-Zawahiri and is believed to have known Osama bin Laden since 1989.
The ECHR judgment found the UK legal system did everything it could in processing Qatada and that the UK's extradition arrangements with Jordan were sound. Further, Qatada is not staying in the UK because he is at risk of torture, but because the evidence against him might have been obtained from others under duress, breaching article six of the ECHR, the right to a fair trial.
Before his arrest in London in October 2002, Abu Qatada was the most prominent jihadist scholar in the UK. Widely seen as wielding more theological authority than his student Abu Hamza, he issued fatwas on behalf of the GIA (Armed Islamic Group) in Algeria and in the late 1990s and early 2000s played a key role in radicalising several key al-Qaeda individuals.
Eighteen video recordings of Abu Qatada's talks were discovered in the Hamburg flats of Muhammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 attacks and when he was arrested in February 2001, police discovered £170,000 in cash in his home, including £805 in an envelope labelled "For the Mujahedin in Chechnya".
In February 2007, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled that "He has given advice to many terrorist groups and individuals, whether formerly a spiritual adviser to them or not. His reach and the depth of his influence in that respect is formidable, even incalculable."
The 2008 report Virtual Caliphate, by the Centre for Social Cohesion, now part of the Henry Jackson Society, found many Islamist websites hosting audio recordings by Abu Qatada calling for jihad as the way to establish the Islamic caliphate, and demanding the execution of Muslim secularists, whom he describes as "kaffirs" (unbelievers).
In one lecture, 'Wajib al-Muslim' ('The Duty of Muslims') Qatada claims that it is the duty of Muslim to wage jihad against "oppressors" (both Muslim and non-Muslim) who do not fully apply sharia law until the caliphate has been re-established, saying
"The only way to have a khilafa is through jihad."
Qatada also explicitly calls on Muslims to murder non-Muslims, saying that:
"Our countries have been infiltrated by kaffirs [non-Muslims]. It is farid [duty] for us to turn our swords on to them and kill them."
"We must fight the kaffirs. We can't reason with them. We can't reach a compromise and we can't be friends."
In another recording entitled 'Seerah' ('The Path') he launches a tirade against Christians and Jews while outlining his apocalyptic visions of the future, describing Christianity and Judaism as "devil worshipping" and saying:
"There will be a great battle against the wathaniyah [Jews and Christians] where the saviour will come back to this earth, the king with an army in the sky, killing the Jews, wipe them out, and rid of the planet of the Jews. Esa [Jesus] will return and spread peace; the majority that remain are those who believe in Esa."
He then tells his listeners that:
"In Jewish law, when a Jew enters a village in war or peace it is his duty to rape the land, take kill the men and turn the women into slaves. He will take the land and the money and that is what that religion says. This war is for existence, to exist or not exist."
Robin Simcox, Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, said today:
"Abu Qatada has been detained for almost ten years without trial while awaiting extradition to Jordan. This is a man who aspiring terrorists and jihadists from around the world sought out for spiritual advice. His continued presence in the UK poses a grave national security threat."
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