Skip to main content

UK moves to deport alleged terror fund-raiser Abu Qatada

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
updated 2:48 PM EDT, Tue April 17, 2012
  • NEW: Lawyer: Too early to say when Abu Qatada will return to Jordan
  • UK can deport Abu Qatada in full compliance with the law, home secretary says
  • British authorities accuse the radical cleric of links to al Qaeda
  • The European Court of Human Rights blocked the deportation earlier this year

London (CNN) -- British authorities have arrested Abu Qatada, whom they describe as an inspiration to terrorists that include one of the hijackers who struck on September 11, 2001, the Home Office said Tuesday.

The United Kingdom will resume efforts to deport him to Jordan, the government said.

Britain views Abu Qatada as a national security threat, but the European Court of Human Rights barred the country from deporting him because evidence gained from torture could be used against him in Jordan, where he has been convicted in absentia of involvement in terrorist conspiracies.

But Jordan has outlined a number of conditions that Home Secretary Theresa May said means the deportation could now go ahead.

Qatada will be tried in public before civilian judges, and the existing conviction against him will be quashed, she told British lawmakers Tuesday.

"The assurances and information that the government has secured from Jordan mean that we can undertake deportation in full compliance with the law and with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights," said May in a statement to the House of Commons.

"Deportation might still take time -- the proper processes must be followed and the rule of law must take precedence -- but today Qatada has been arrested and the deportation process is under way."

Jordanian Justice Minister Ibrahim Aljazy had said after Britain announced the arrest that Jordan would detain Abu Qatada and give him a full trial when he arrived in the country.

The two countries have been in talks since the Court of Human Rights ruling earlier this year. Both sides want him sent to Jordan.

But he can still appeal to stop his deportation, a process that could take months, May said.

Jordan wants Qatada to return 'home'
British dilemma over Abu Qatada release
Radical cleric to leave UK prison

Assem Rababah, a lawyer representing Abu Qatada in Jordan, told CNN it was too early to judge when his deportation might occur, as British legal proceedings were still ongoing.

He said that when the deportation order was final, a team of officials and doctors would travel from Jordan to Britain to assess Abu Qatada's mental and physical health.

Abu Qatada was released from a high security prison on bail in February.

He had been imprisoned in Britain for six years while the government worked to send him to Jordan, where he holds citizenship.

The British government claims Abu Qatada has raised money for terrorist groups, including organizations linked to former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and has publicly supported the violent activities of those groups.

Abu Qatada has denied the allegations against him.

Also known as Omar Othman, Abu Qatada arrived in the United Kingdom in 1993 and applied for asylum on the grounds that he had been tortured by Jordanian authorities. He came to Britain on a forged United Arab Emirates passport, according to court documents, and claimed asylum for himself, his wife and their three children.

The British government recognized him as a refugee and allowed him to stay in the country until 1998.

Abu Qatada applied to stay indefinitely, but while his application was pending, a Jordanian court convicted him in absentia on charges related to two 1998 terrorist attacks and a plot to plant bombs to coincide with the millennium.

He was released briefly in 2005 after the repeal of the anti-terrorism law on which he was being held. British authorities ordered his renewed detention that year under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, according to the European Court of Human Rights.

CNN's Caroline Faraj and Kindah Shair in Abu Dhabi contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.