UK – “WE LIKE TERRORISTS”
Few people are unaware of the situation with Julian Assange holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London due to him fighting and losing the legal battle against an extradition warrant from Sweden. Equally, most people know that the British authorities are well aware that it is the United States that really wants to get their hands on Julian Assange because of his involvement in the whistle-blowing site, Wikileaks.
What most people don’t know however is that Britain has a very chequered history when it comes to extraditing wanted suspects to foreign governments. Britain is very quick to accede to these demands for computer hackers, businessmen and children who have downloaded copyright material but when the suspect is a terrorist, very different outcomes have occurred. Below are details of three such terrorist suspects that Britain did not extradite when requested.
Anas al-Liby a computer expert based in Sudan travelled to Afghanistan to train al Qaeda operatives in surveillance. In 1993 he went to Nairobi, and staying in the flat of an al Qaeda supporter, began to develop surveillance pictures of the U.S. embassy. This was the beginning of a five year plot that culminated in the bombings of the embassy in Nairobi in August 1998.
Subsequently al-Liby was indicted and became one of America’s most wanted fugitives with a $25,000,000 reward on his head. In 1995 he came to Britain and applied for and was granted asylum. Not long after this, Egyptian authorities sent a file on his terrorist background to the British government which included details of his part in an assassination attempt on President Mubarak in 1995. Britain however refused to extradite him, claiming he might not get a fair trial and could face the death penalty. al-Liby lived in Manchester, UK for some years and disappeared before the U.S. pressured the British authorities into to trying to pick him up.
Another similar case is that of Abu Hamza who was born in Egypt and founded the organization, The Supporters of Shariah.
He was involved in the war in Bosnia as an adviser to Algerian fighters. Abu Hamza was also wanted by the Egyptian government who requested his extradition to face charges of terrorism. Again, the British authorities rejected this and another request made in 1990 from the Yemen. There is evidence to show that the Metropolitan Police’s intelligence agency, Special Branch, had many meetings with Abu Hamza and it is thought by many that he probably became their informer.
Abu Hamza preached at the infamous Finsbury Park mosque and was responsible for many Islamic radicals travelling to fight in various parts of the world. He organized terrorist training camps across England and Wales where recruits were taught how to manage guns and explosives by British ex-soldiers. He was arrested many times but mysteriously released. When the United States Department of Justice requested his extradition, the UK charged him with a minor offence and he was not questioned about his alleged connections to major terrorist groups.
Abu Qatada was known as al Qaeda’s spiritual leader in Europe and described by a judge in 2004 as a “truly dangerous individual at the centre of terrorist activities in the United Kingdom” and on top of this, the British government ignored warnings before 9/11 from half a dozen friendly governments about his links with terrorist groups and refused to arrest him. Abu Qatada arrived in London in 1993 with a forged United Arab Emirates passport and claimed asylum. The next year he was granted indefinite leave to remain in Britain until 1998. During this period he agitated for and recruited for Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Algerian terrorist organizations.
In 1995 he issued a religious order known as a Fatwa which justified the killing of wives and children of enemies of the Algerian terrorists. In 1998 he was sentenced in his absence in Jordan for inciting a series of bomb attacks and the authorities requested his extradition. Yet when his leave to remain in Britain came up for review that year he was allowed to stay in the country and not arrested. In 2001 he was arrested by anti terrorism police officers but then released due to insufficient evidence. After the 9/11 bombings he was identified by the United States as a ‘global terrorist’. Amazingly he was still not arrested by the British authorities because they claim there was not enough hard evidence to bring charges against him, and they would not deport him to Jordan in case he faced the death penalty. Eventually in December 2001 the British parliament was about to pass new anti terror legislation and Abu Qatada was tipped off, fled the country and disappeared.
LAtest news on Julian Assange – According to a joint news release issued today by the Indigenous Social Justice Association, the WikiLeaks Coalition, and the Australia-based Support Assange group, the whistle-blower’s father, John Shipton, will accept an “Aboriginal Land Passport” at a ceremony on Saturday (September 15).