Abu Qatada

article - Abu Qatada

Abu Qatada al-Filistini (/ˈɑːb kəˈtɑːdə/ (listen)AH-boo kə-TAH-də; Arabic: أبو قتادة الفلسطيني, ’Abū Qatāda al-Filisṭīnī [the Palestinian]), born Omar Mahmoud Othman (Arabic: عمر بن محمود بن عثمان‘Umar ibn Maḥmūd ibn ‘Uṯmān)[lower-alpha 1] in 1959/1960, is a Salafi[1][2] cleric and Jordanian national. Abu Qatada was accused of having links to terrorist organisations and frequently imprisoned in the United Kingdom without formal charges or prosecution before being deported to Jordan, where courts found him innocent of multiple terrorism charges.[3][4][5]

Islamic cleric, alleged al-Qaeda member (born 1959)
For other uses, see Qatada.

Abu Qatada Al-Filistini (the Palestinian)
أبو قتادة الفلسطيني

Abu Qatada during his deportation to Jordan on 7 July 2013
Omar Mahmoud Othman

1959 (age 6162)

Other names Abu Omar
Citizenship Jordanian
Known for Alleged links with terrorism, imprisonment without trial

Abu Qatada claimed asylum in the United Kingdom in 1993 on a forged passport. In 1999, he was convicted in absentia in Jordan of planning thwarted terror plots during Jordan’s millennium eve and was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment with hard labour.[3] Abu Qatada was repeatedly imprisoned and released in the United Kingdom after he was first detained under anti-terrorism laws in 2002 but was not prosecuted for any crime.[6][7][8] The Algerian government described Abu Qatada as being involved with Islamists in London and possibly elsewhere.[9][10] After initially barring the United Kingdom from deporting Abu Qatada to Jordan, in May 2012 the European Court of Human Rights denied him leave to appeal against deportation.[11][12]

On 12 November 2012, the UK Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) upheld Abu Qatada’s appeal against deportation and released him on restrictive bail conditions. The Home SecretaryTheresa May said the government would appeal against the decision.[13] He was deported to Jordan on 7 July 2013, after the UK and Jordanian governments agreed and ratified a treaty satisfying the need for clarification that evidence potentially gained through torture would not be used against him in his forthcoming trial.[14]

On 26 June 2014, Abu Qatada was retried as is required by the Jordanian legal system if the defendant is returned to the country.[3] He was found not guilty by a Jordanian court of terrorism charges relating to one alleged 1999 plot. He remained in prison pending a verdict that was due September 2014 on a second alleged plot.[4][5] On 24 September 2014, a panel of civilian judges sitting at Amman’sState Security Court cleared him of being involved in a thwarted plot aimed at Western and Israeli targets in Jordan during the millennium celebrations in 2000 due to “insufficient evidence”.[3] Evidence used to convict him in the previous trial were overturned, per the treaty signed between the United Kingdom and Jordan, as they may have been potentially acquired through torture.[3]

Despite his history with militancy, scholar of Islam Daniel Lav argues that it should not hide his scholarly credentials in the traditional Islamic sciences, as “he certainly has connections to al-Qaʻida, but he is also the author of a polemic against the theological views of a nineteenth-century rector of al-Azhar, coauthor of a reference work on the eleventh-century scholar Ibn Hazm’s evaluations of transmitters of hadith, and editor of an influential twentieth-century Wahhabi work of theology.”[15] In the same tone, Victoria Brittain, a former associate foreign editor of The Guardian, and who knows him personally, also says that “the man behind the myth is a scholar with wide intellectual and cultural interests. He wrote books while he was in prison. His home is filled with books.”[16]

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Abu Qatada, who was born Omar Mahmoud Othman, has Jordanian nationality because he was born in Bethlehem in the West Bank in 1960, which at that time was ruled by Jordan. In 1989, he went to Peshawar in Pakistan where he served as a professor of sharia sciences.[17][18] He obtained his Bachelor’s in Islamic jurisprudence in 1984 while in Jordan[19] and his Master’s in the same subject from the Peshawar University, where he became a lecturer through the influence of another Jordanian-Palestinian influential jihadi cleric, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi.[20] Abu Qatada said that while in Pakistan he had no relationship to Al-Qaeda, which was just beginning to form in Afghanistan at that time.[21] In 1991, after the Gulf War, Abu Qatada was expelled from Kuwait, along with many other Palestinians. He returned to Jordan, but in September 1993, he fled with his wife and five children to the UK, using a forged UAE passport. Citing religious persecution and stating he had been tortured in Jordan, Abu Qatada requested asylum, which was granted in June 1994.[22][23]

Around 1994, Abu Qatada started up and was editor-in-Chief of a weekly magazine, Usrat al-Ansar, a Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA) propaganda outlet.[24] Abu Qatada provided the intellectual and ideological support for the journal,[25] which became “a trusted source of news and information about the GIA for Islamists around the world.”[26]

Abu Qatada was granted leave to remain to 30 June 1998. On 8 May 1998, he applied for indefinite leave to remain. This application had not been determined before Abu Qatada’s arrest on 23 October 2002. On that date British authorities detained him under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.[27]

Abu Qatada resided in the United Kingdom until 7 July 2013, when he was deported back to Jordan to face retrials for alleged involvement in varied Jordanian mayhem.[28] He was freed after both Jordanian retrials, in which by formal agreement with the UK government evidence obtained by torture was discarded. His imprisonment ended in September 2014.[3]

According to Conservative politician Boris Johnson, Abu Qatada’s residence in Britain is estimated to have cost the British taxpayer at least £500,000 in benefit payments to his family and other expenses by early 2012.[29]The Daily Telegraph claimed the cost to be as high as £3 million by May 2012, a figure that was not confirmed by the British Home Office.[30]

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