Abu Qatada - Europe's Al Qaeda Ambassador


For 8 years, from 1994 to 2002, Al Qaeda’s alleged chief recruiter in Europe, Abu Qatada, was allowed to live undisturbed in West London.

Why did the UK grant Abu Qatada asylum and protect him against extradition requests by other countries ?

Since March 2005, he has been released again and put under "control orders" (house arrest).

(Recent news indicates possible extradition to Jordan)


Abu Qatada
Aka Sheikh Omar Mahmoud Othman abu Omar


Abu Qatada is a radical Sheikh has been London-based through the 1990s and 2000s. He was closely affiliated with the al-Qaeda core in Afghanistan, acting as a recruiter. Videotapes of his sermons were found in the Hamburg apartment of the 9/11 operational leader Mohammed Atta. Abu Qatada has connections to a number of terrorist cells and individuals in Europe. The Paris-based cell that plotted to blow up the US embassy in France in 2001 (Terrorist Incident) was headed by a follower of his. Richard Reid, the attempted shoe bomber, was also a follower. He was linked to a Belgian-based logistics and recruiting cell that became operational starting in 2000 and may still have functioning elements. The cell that carried out the Madrid train attacks attempted to contact him in Belmarsh Prison before they blew themselves up in their apartment in Spain; this may be indicative of a prior relationship between the Sheikh and the cell. Abu Qatada was also convicted in absentia in Jordan (Country Profile) for his role in the thwarted millennium attacks (Terrorist Incident). Though confined to prison, Abu Qatada has a number of loyal followers who still circulate his writings, transcripts of his sermons, and books. He has a substantial Jihadist network and may have underlings or followers involved in this plot. Spanish magistrate Balthasar Garzon has named him “the spiritual head of the Mujahideen in Britain.”


The UK government announced the arrest and expulsion of Abu Qatada and a number of others, but till today nothing seems to be happening.

According to articles in the Times Online, it even seems that those reported "arrested" on August 12th, are still at home under "control orders", being able to go into hiding in the UK to avoid expulsion.

The Sun Online - Blair terror purge fails (September 12, 2005)

The Independent - Two months on from the bombings, government promises look hollow (September 4, 2005)

Times Online - Clarke delays detaining preachers of hate (August 31, 2005)

Times Online - Militants go into hiding as expulsion orders are signed (August 30, 2005)

Mirror - Jordan is ready for return of Qatada (August 15, 2005)

Reports claim that Abu Qatada and others have been arrested awaiting expulsion from the UK, and Qatada is again branded as a leading Al Qaeda figure in Europe :

ICT - Abu Qatada arrested in London (August 13, 2005)

Middle East Online - Qatada labelled Al-Qaeda's frontman in Europe (August 12, 2005)

Guardian - Al Qaida's 'spiritual ambassador' faces return to Jordan (August 12, 2005)

BBC - Qatada to be deported 'next week' (August 12, 2005)

BBC - 'Threats to UK security' detained (August 12, 2005)

Al Jazeera - UK to deport Abu Qatada tor Jordan (August 12, 2005)

CNN - Qatada 'key Bin Laden contact' (August 11, 2005)

BBC - Profile: Abu Qatada (August 11, 2005)

The Scotsman - Osama bin Laden's 'ambassador' faces deportation after deal (July 21, 2005)

SITE Institute - Londonistan: Center of the Jihadist World (July 14, 2005)

Washington Post - In London, Islamic radicals found a haven (July 10, 2005)

Abu Qatada is released from prison as well as a number of other terror suspects who were held without trial.

He's put under house arrest using new "control orders" legislation. MI5 informants fear for their lives, as they helped putting him in jail :

Independent Media TV - MI5 'left al-Qaida informant to rot in Guantanamo Bay (June 5, 2005)

Guardian - Control Order flaws exposed (March 24, 2005)

Guardian - Guantanamo Briton claimed he spied for MI5 (March 22, 2005)

Guardian - Freed terror suspects face rigid regime (March 12, 2005)

Guardian - Eight terror suspects granted bail (March 11, 2005)

This is London - I spied on Abu Qatada for MI5 (January 28, 2005)

Rigorous Intuition - MI5 asset in Gitmo ? (January 16, 2005)


The Carnegie Council - The War for Muslim minds: Islam and the West (September 22, 2004)

BBC - Qatada's key UK al-Qaeda role (March 23, 2004)

Guardian - The Secret War (March 21, 2004)


Guardian - Detained Muslim cleric is spiritual leader to militants, hearing told (November 20, 2003)

Guardian - Fiery Islamic preacher appeals against detention (November 19, 2003)

BBC - Cleric launches bid for freedom (November 19, 2003)

ABC Australia - Sheikh Omran defends Abu Qatada (September 18, 2003)

ABC Australia - Spain seeks to extradite Muslim cleric from Britain (September 18, 2003)

APFN - The Case of Abu Qatada (August 12, 2003)

BBC - Cleric 'inspired 11 September attackers (May 20, 2003)


Al-Ahram Weekly - London's new Villains (October 31, 2002)

Guardian - Judges back terror detentions (October 26, 2002)

Guardian - Cleric 'Key Al-Qaeda figure' (October 26, 2002)

Abu Qatada arrested in London, sent to jail without trial

Guardian - Terror suspect held in London (October 25, 2002)

Times Online - Abu Qatada arrested (October 25, 2002)

Times Online - Wanted Muslim lived near Scotland Yard (October 25, 2002)

BBC - Abu Qatada held a Terror suspect (October 25, 2002)

Christian Science Monitor - Radical Islam finds unlikely haven in liberal Britain (August 5, 2002)

Observer - Cleric urges Muslims in UK to become martyrs (July 14, 2002)

Various sources claim that Abu Qatada is under the protection of UK intelligence services, living in a safehouse with his family :

The Scotsman - Al Qaeda suspect 'hidden by MI5' (July 9, 2002)

The Age - Terror suspect under British protection (July 8, 2002)

BBC - Britain sheltering Al Qaeda leader (July 8, 2002)

Guardian - Al Qaeda suspect 'hidden by UK agents' (July 8, 2002)

TIME - Sheltering a Puppet Master ? (July 7, 2002)

Guardian - Britain's most wanted (May 5, 2002)

Observer - Bin Laden's mastermind 'still hiding in Britain' (May 5, 2002)

Guardian - UK-based Muslim 'led terrorist group' (April 25, 2002)

Tom Paine - Londonistan (March 18, 2002)

Observer - Al-Qaeda trained hundreds from UK (February 24, 2002)

Time - The Shoebomber's World (February 16, 2002)

Guardian - Allies point the finger at the UK as al-Qaeda's 'revolving door' (February 14, 2002)

Dawn - Britain: Logistics base for Muslim extremists ? (February 1, 2002)

BBC - Britain's al-Qaeda connections (January 29, 2002)

Telegraph - The extremist network that sprang from 'Londonistan' (January 3, 2002)


CNN - Q&A with Abu Qatada (November 29, 2001)

BBC - Terror suspect loses legal challenge (November 28, 2001)

Guardian - Authorities probe cleric's bank account (November 25, 2001)

Jordan Embassy - Jordan tried in vain to get Abu Qatada extradited from the UK (November 23, 2001)

CNN - UK Muslim cleric denies terror links (November 22, 2001)

CNN - UK fights image as terrorist haven (November 21, 2001)

Guardian - Islamist cell linked to UK militants (November 20, 2001)

Guardian - Blunkett to face rough ride over terror law (November 19, 2001)

Global Policy - Al-Qaeda's global terror franchise (October 30, 2001)

Chicago Tribune - Britain has been radicals' refuge (October 29, 2001)

Guardian - FBI inquiry finds no evidence of al-Qaeda cells in Britain (October 23, 2001)

ABCNews - London probe reveals unsettling secret - Terror training ground (October 22, 2001)

Observer - MI5 wanted me to escape, claims cleric (October 21, 2001)

BBC - Muslim cleric denies terror link (October 19, 2001)

Telegraph - 180.000 is discovered in account of radical (October 18, 2001)

Telegraph - Qatada has his assets frozen (October 16, 2001)

Observer - US names London cleric as suspect (October 14, 2001)


ABCNews - Cleric or Terrorist ? (January 28, 2000)


Overview of September 11th Al Qaeda terrorist network :



Terror in the UK - The Islam threat and the Enemy within




- Given refugee status in 1994 after arriving in UK on fake passport

- According to the US and UK government he holds a leading position in Al Qaeda

- Protected by UK intelligence services, stayed in a safehouse during 2001/2002

- Detained in Belmarsh jail in 2002 under laws introduced after 9/11 attacks

- Linked to al-Qaeda by a British judge

- Released under control order in March 2005

- Expelled by UK in August 2005