Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Osama Bin Laden Tried To Apply For Asylum In Britain In December 1995
Osama Bin Laden Tried To Apply For Asylum In Britain In December 1995
September 6, 2016
By EMERSON VERMAAT
Osama Bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader who was directly responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the United States, tried to apply for asylum in Great Britain. The London Times reported on September 29, 2005, that Bin Laden tried to move to Britain at the end of 1995 having transferred some of his considerable fortune to London for his followers to establish terror cells in London and accross Europe. He had also established a media organization and a printing house in London. Bin Laden was in Sudan at the time, but the Sudanese wanted to kick him out. They were under increasing American pressure to do so. Therefore, Bin Laden and his dangerous al-Qaeda organization had to look for another safe haven.
Michael Howard, a Conservative politician and the British Home Secretary at the time, "recalled how his aides told him of the asylum request from the Saudi-born militant of whom the world knew little of ten years ago." "His name rarely appeared in the British media even though by late 1995 his network had already bombed a number of U.S. army bases abroad and plotted assassination attempts against Pope John Paul II and U.S. President Bill Clinton." Howard told The Times: "In truth, I knew little about him, but we picked up information that Bin Laden was very interested in coming to Britain. It was apparently a serious request. He already had people operating here."
"Bin Laden never got a chance to make a formal application as British Home Office officials investigated him and Howard issued an immediate banning order under Britains immigration laws. It was not until June 1998, two months before the attacks on U.S. Embassies in Africa, that Bin Laden was placed on the FBI's most wanted list." Howard added: "If he had come here to plot the attacks on the Twin Towers and the U.S. had subsequently asked for his extradition, then by then, under the Labor Governments laws, he could not have been sent because they refuse to extradite to a country which has the deathpenalty." "Bin Laden, according to Home Office officials, used a Saudi business man Khaled al-Fawwaz, to sound out his chances of coming to Britain. Fawwaz, 41, had arrived in 1994 and was described by security chiefs as his ‘de facto ambassador' in Britain." His surname is also spelt as Fauwaz.
James Bruce, a journalist who has covered the Middle East and international terrorism for many years, wrote in Jane's Intelligence Review in October 1995 that Osama Bin Laden "opened an office in London run by his close associate, Khaled Fauwaz." Because of his involvement in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings, Fawaz (or Fauwaz) was extradited to the United States in October 2012.
Abdel Bari Atwan, a Palestian immigrant in London who became editor-in-chief of the pro-Palestinian and London-based Arab daily al-Quds al-Arabi, wanted to meet Bin Laden in 1996. He is quoted in Peter Bergen's book The Osama Bin Laden I Know: "I met Khaled Fauwaz (Bin Laden's media contact in London) and he said, are you interested in meeting Osama Bin Laden? I was told that Osama Bin Laden was fond of my writing, he liked my style and he wanted to meet me personally." Atwan traveled to Afghanistan and interviewed bin Laden in his hide-out near Jalalabad in November 1996.
In the spring of 1996 I received the full script of the British TV documentary "Sudan – Are They Training Terrorists?" This very important TV documentary was broadcast by "Dispatches," Channel 4's award-winning investigative affairs program. (I edited this documentary for Dutch TV – "2Vandaag" and "Antenne".) Mike Stucky from Journeyman Pictures Limited had visited Sudan in an attempt to interview Osama Bin Laden there. But he didn't succeed. "An aide told us Bin Laden was abroad." "A document from Israeli intelligence estimates he's spent a hundred million dollars backing Islamic terrorism. Britain agrees – he's a banker for jihad. Our Embassy in Khartoum recently protested about his presence in Sudan to Dr. Turabi." (Hassan al-Turabi was a close Sudanese friend of Osama Bin Laden's.)
"Dispatches has discovered that in January (1996) the (British) Home Secretary issued an exclusion order against Bin Laden saying his presence was not conducive to the public good." This was nine years before the London Times reported that Osama Bin Laden had tried to apply for asylum in Britain.
In the 1980s and 1990s Britain was a safe haven for Islamic radicals and terrorists. London was subsequently nicknamed "Londonistan." Many of these militant asylum seekers and immigrants came from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt,Bahrein, Qatar, Yemen, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Sudan, North Africa, The Balkans and Pakistan.
Egyptian and Syrian asylum seekers in Britain and Spain linked to terrorist organizations
The usually well informed Egyptian daily Rose El Youssef reported on May 5, 1995: "Within the last two years, a large number of Islamists have sought political refuge in Britain. Some of them have been granted political asylum. More than 1,000 persons are listed to be members of extremist Islamic groups. The British Scotland Yard was surprised by the arrival of Lebanese Hezbolah in London, where members of the group met with a number of Islamist leaders such as Rachid Ghannouchi, Anwar Haddam, Abdul Majid Husayn, Mohammad al-Muqari, Omar Bakri and others. Some members of the group have managed to obtain legal residence in London. They went there to invest a large sum of money, which could have been illegally acquired from drugs or other dubious deals." Omar Bakri Mohammed was a Syrian Muslim extremist who succesfully applied for asylum in Britain in January 1986. He would later join Al-Qaeda and call the despicable 9/11 terrorists "the magnificent 19." He also heaped praise on "Sheikh Osama Bin Laden" when I interviewed him for Dutch TV ("2Vandaag") in 2002. Bin Laden had no theological or tribal qualifications whatsoever. His only qualification was that he was the leader of a ruthless terrorist organization.
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak rightly predicted in 1986 that regional terrorism would spread. He criticized European nations, especially Great Britain, which have given political asylum to Egyptians wanted in Egypt on charges of terrorism.
Representatives of 29 countries gathered in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh in March 1996, in the wake of a series of terrorist bombings in Israel.Shortly after the Sharm el-Sheikh conference, British Prime Minister John Major hinted that Britain would "rethink its asylum policies." Major said it was time "to look at not only at those who commit terrorist acts but also at those who take advantage of political asylum to foster terrorism elsewhere."
Yet, nothing happened and Muslim terrorists continued to apply sucessfully for asylum in Britain.
In December 1995 the Egyptian security service arrested 56 members of the extremist Al-Jihad group and seized large quantities of cash and arms. Some of those arrrested confessed to plotting an attack on the Egyptian Embassy in Yemen as part of a plan to target Egyptian diplomatic missions worldwide. Five Sudanese were among those arrested. They confessed to being trained in Sudan to carry out suicide bombings and assassinations.
Further investigation revealed that some of the arrested terrorist suspects had received their training from Yassir Sari and Adil Abdul-Majid. Sari and Majid lived in London as political refugees. They had financed attacks to be undertaken against vital Egyptian installations. Sari and Majid even bought a factory in a Cairo suburb to secretly manufacture explosives and ammunition,the London-based daily Asharq al-Awsat claimed on December 14, 1995.
American Bin Laden biographer Yossef Bodansky refers to Adil Abdul-Majid as "Zawahiri's friend and confidant." Ayman al-Zawahiri was the leader of thenotorious Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) terror group and would later become al-Qaeda's "second-in-command"
Bodansky exaggerates occasionally. Nevertheless, he does have excellent sources and knows Arabic and other important languages. He claims that "in early September (1997) Zawahiri vanished for nearly a month in Western Europe. While there, he traveled all over the continent, using at least six passports. His tour led to the reactivation of the dormant terrorist networks and the restoration of contacts between Islamist networks and cells in Spain, Italy, France and Belgium and the command center in London. In London, Zawahiri met at least three senior terrorist commanders: Adil Abdul-Majid (also known as Abdul-Bari), Yassir Tawfiq al-Sari (Abu-Ammar) and Mustafa Kamil (Abu-Hamza). Zawahiri also went to Italy, where he dealt with the local chief of Iranian intelligence, Mahmud Nurani, a veteran of the Iranian terrorist system who had served in Beirut in the early and mid-1990s, operating under Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, a former Hezbollah supervisor."
An highly important Syrian al-Qaeda operative in Spain and London was Mustafa Setmariam Nasar (Abu Musab al-Suri). Born in Aleppo in 1958, he joined the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and participated in the uprising against the Syrian dictator Hafez al-Assad in Hama in 1982. He fled to France and later to Spain in the mid-1980s. He obtained Spanish citizenship by marrying a Spanish woman, Elena Morena, who converted to Islam. He joined the Afghan jihad and befriended Osama bin Laden in 1988. He returned to Spain in 1992. He traveled to London in 1994 where he stayed three years. His Norwegian biographer Brynjar Lia writes about this period: "The prominent newspaper editor, Abdel Bari Atwan, who met with al-Suri repeatedly, recalls that the latter traveled extensively in Europe, and beyond when he stayed in London between1994 and 1997. Having a Spanish passport and a Western appearance, he faced fewer hurdles than many of his Syrian countrymen when crossing international borders. Al-Suri frequently went back and forth to Spain, where his family lived until mid-1995 and which also hosted one of the most important al-Qaeda networks in Europe at the time (that of Abu Dahdah). He also went to France, Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands, and Belgium several times, in particular Brussels."
While in London, Mustafa Setmariam Nasar arranged one important interview with Osama Bin Laden. Peter Bergen quotes him as follows: "I met (Bin Laden) in 1997, to arrange an interview, which was broadcast on CNN, as I had established in London the ‘Centre for Media and Research' specializing in the Islamic world's conflicts."
Setmariam Nasar pledged allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Omar in 2000. He was the leader of an al-Qaeda training camp near Kabul – al-Ghuraba.
Abu Dahdah or Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas was also born in Aleppo Syria in 1958. He, too, joined the anti-Semitic Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and later fled to Spain where he married a Spanish woman and so obtained Spanish citizenship. He had previous knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. Another Syrian refugee in Spain was Tayseer Allouni. He became the correspondent of al-Jazeera in Afghanistan in 1999 and interviewed Osama Bin Laden in October 2001, one month after the 9/11 attacks, calling the al-Qaeda leader obsequiousy "Sheikh." Al-Jazeera and al-Quds al-Arabi were al-Qaeda's favorable media outlets.
Dangerous ISIS operatives disguised as asylum seekers
Intelligence and security experts believe that ISIS abused the asylum system in Europe and sent operatives to Europe disguised as asylum seekers. CNN's Clarissa Ward and Paul Cruickshank recently quoted from newly discovered documents: "The sophisticated ISIS network that plots foreign strikes had planned for the carnage in the November 2015 Paris attacks to be far worse, to occur in other European countries as well, and investigators believe, had planned to follow them up with strikes in several locations."
Two very dangerous ISIS operatives, Algerian-born Adel Haddadi and Muhammad Usman from Pakistan, began their journey in Raqqa, the so-called"capital" of ISIS in Syria, early October 2015. Via Izmir in Turkey they traveled to Leros, Greece, posing as Syrian refugees and showing fake Syrian passports. They were detained by the Greeks because their fake passports had been detected. But late October the Greeks decided to release the two men and they were able to continue their journey. Via Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia they arrived in Austria on November 14, one day after the Paris attacks. On December 10, they were arrested at a refugee center near Salzburg. "The documents show that their journey was directed by a shadowy ISIS leader in Syria, known only as Abu Ahmad. Operating like a puppet-master from afar, Abu Ahmad handled their logistics: connecting them with smugglers and cars for transport, providing pre-programmed cell phones and getting them fake Syrian passports. He wired them money as they moved, using intermediaries who couldn't be traced, and communicated using encrypted apps."
"After interrogating suspects and gathering intelligence, European investigators now believe that ISIS initially planned for the operatives it sent least year to also attack the Netherlands, as well as targets in France including shopping areas and possibly a supermarket in Paris, the official said. In addition, recently obtained intelligence indicates that ISIS had stepped up its efforts to infiltrate operatives to the UK to launch attacks there, an official told CNN. The senior European counter-terrorism official told CNN that security services were ‘uncovering more and more ISIS operatives' on continental European soil."
French terrorism expert Jean-Charles Brisard told CNN that these cases are not exceptional. "There are many more cases," he warned. Brisard is one of France's best experts on al-Qaeda and ISIS.
An Iraqi-Kuwaiti couple had been granted asylum in Britain in 1996. But one of their sons radicalized and traveled to Syria where he joined ISIS. Mohammed Emwazi was also known as "Jihadi John." He beheaded Western hostages, a war crime. This ruthless fellow hated the West and the Jews. An American airstrike in Syria (in Raqqa, that is) killed him on November 12, 2015.
Emerson Vermaat is an investigative reporter in the Netherlands specialized in crime, terrorism and anti-Semitism.
The Times (London), September 29, 2005 p. 3, The Day When Osama BinLaden Applied For Asylum – in Britain,
KUNA (Kuwait), September 29, 2005, The Day When Osama Bin Laden Applied For Asylum in Britain,
Emerson Vermaat, Out of Africa: Illegal Immigrants, Crime, Terrorism, Polygamy and Aids, Militant Islam Monitor, August 29, 2006, footnote 17.
James Bruce, The Hunt for Middle Eastern Terrorists – Part 2, Jane's Intelligence Review (London), October 1995, p. 460.
Peter Bergen, The Osama Bin Laden I Know. An Oral History of Al-Qaeda's Leader (New York: Free Press, 2006), pp. 166, 167 (Atwan), pp. 185, 186 (CNN's interview with Bin Laden).
Journeyman Pictures Limited (London), Sudan – Are They Training Terrorists? 40 Minutes International Script (print version), April 15, 1996, p. 17 ("A document from Israeli intelligence"), p. 18 ("exclusion order"), see also: Journeyman Pictures, Channel 4 Dispatches, "Sudan – Training Terrorists,"March 1, 1996, https://www.journeyman.
Rose El Youssef (Cairo), May 15, 1995, author's file on al-Qaeda's abuse of the asylum system in Europe.
Mubarak and the Sharm el-Sheikh conference of March 1996, author's file on al-Qaeda's abuse of the asylum system in Europe.
Yossef Bodansky, Bin Laden. The Man Who Declared War on America (New York/London: Random House/Prima Publishing, 1999/2001), p. 206 (Zawahiri's secret visit to London in 1997), p. 351 (Adil Abdul-Majid) .
CNN, September 5, 2016 (19:35 hours Dutch time), First on CNN: ISIS Planned For More Operatives, Targets During Paris Attacks,