Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Abu Qatada re-arrested

Omar Mahmoud Othman
عمر محمود عثمان
better known as Abu Qatada the Palestinian
أبو قتادة الفلسطيني
is one of the top three clerics in al-Qa'ida, along with Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and Omar Abdur-Rahman. He has had political refugee status in the UK since 1993. Earlier he had lived in Kuwait, who expelled him after Desert Storm. In 1993 he fled from Jordan or Ramullah to the UK on a forged Emirati passport and has been operating in the UK ever since, except for interludes in which the Law Lords allowed the government to keep him off the street.

Abu Qatada was arrested Saturday morning 8 November and will appear at some sort of immigration hearing Wednesday 12 November. The British press says that he was preparing to flee the UK. His intended destination is not yet publicly known, but it is said to be in the Middle East. One rumour, quoted by the Hizbullah mouthpiece Lebanon Daily Star, is that Lebanon was a probable destination. It isn't.
An absurd condition of his release on bail back in June is that he may not be in possession of a passport. Since Abu Qatada's status in the UK is that of a political refugee, why should London prevent him from leaving? Be that as it may, he would need papers of some sort, presumably supplied to him by some al-Qa'ida benefactor. The benefactor I have in mind is in Yemen.

Update 13 November from Associated Press, which is following the court proceedings in London. It mentions Abu Qatada's fundraising activities on behalf of Islamists in the UK, but not on behalf of al-Qa'ida elsewhere, such as Russia.