The radical Islamic cleric – an iconic figure to the Jihadists and widely believed to have been right hand to Osama Bin Laden in Europe -- Abu Qatada (original name, Omar Othman) won his appeal at the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights on January 16 against being deported from the UK to Jordan, where he has been convicted in absentia of terror two major terrorism plots.
Abu Qatada arrived in Britain on a forged United Arab Emirates passport in 1993, and has been in and out of prison since 2002 when he was arrested under the anti-terrorism law. Before that he was caught red-handed by the British police with an envelope for the Chechnyan Mujahdieein [Islamic holy warriors] containing 805 British pounds. He has been a focal point of extremist fund-raising, recruitment and propaganda.
The ruling of European Court of Human Rights not only thwarted British judgments and principles on deportation, but also ignored the British Government's bilateral agreements -- known as Memoranda of Understanding -- on deportation requests that had been established with Lebanon, Jordan, Ethiopia and Morocco. British Home Secretary Theresa May reacted by saying, "I am disappointed that the court has made this ruling."
The British government can make a last appeal against the ruling within three months; if it does not appeal, the terror cleric will be free to leave Belmarsh Prison where he is currently being held.
The British judgment was thwarted by European judges, whose British president, Sir Nicolas Bratza, has never held a senior post in UK. Tory MP Dominic Raab correctly said "The Strasbourg court has imposed a new category of restrictions on our ability to deport serious criminals and suspected terrorists. Placing the burden on Britain to ensure foreign criminals and terrorist suspects are tried according to UK standards in their home countries will impede our capacity to deport those who pose a risk in this country. This is a classic example of mission creep, with judicial legislation from Strasbourg riding roughshod over decisions that should be determined by UK courts."
Abu Qatada went on the run after 9/11 but was arrested in 2002. Three years back, an Englishman, Edwin Dyer, was kidnapped by the nomads in Northwest Africa and sent to the notorious Al-Qaeda militants based in Mali, a country in which Muslims are dominant. The militants threatened to kill Dyer if the British government refused to release Abu Qatada from prison and hand over a ransom. The British Government, however, has a long-standing policy against negotiating with terrorists. So the Al-Qaeda militants killed Edwin Dyer.
In December 2005, Abu Qatada made a video appeal to the kidnappers of another Englishman, peace activist Norman Kember in Iraq. Kember later faced a backlash after agreeing to help secure the release of Qatada, one of the world's most dangerous terror suspects. Kember,in his 70s, was later rescued by the SAS in March 2006.
Abu Qatada clearly has profound connections with terror networks, even though has UK failed to file any specific charge against him. The ruling of European Court, however, will never be able to assure the world that there will be no more bombings, terror attacks, kidnappings and dozens of innocent people slaughtered in which Abu Qatada is not involved.