Guest Writings
8/7/05 ‘Islamic Leader Warned of London Attack’ … Who is Abu Qatada and Why Did He Have UK Immunity From Spain’ …

TMPress – United News & Press Features

(TMPress International – New York – July 8, 2005) – From the (AFP) `Islamic Leader Warned of London Attack’ … Who is Abu Qatada and Why Did He Have UK Immunity From Spain … From the AFP … An Islamic leader warned in a Portuguese newspaper interview 15 months ago that a London-based group, Al-Qaeda Europe, was on the verge of a major attack. `Here in London there is a very well-organized group, which calls itself Al-Qaeda Europe,’ Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, the Syrian head of the London-based group Al-Muhajiroun, told the Portuguese daily Publico in an interview published April 18 last year in 2004. `I know they are on the verge of launching a big operation.’ Bakri, 46, is suspected of having links with Abu Qatada, the alleged Al-Qaeda leader in Europe. Speaking a month after the March 11, 2004 Madrid train bombings, Bakri said it was `inevitable’ that London would be hit by a large attack `because they are being prepared by various groups.’ British Home Secretary Charles Clarke had said the London attacks `came out of the blue’ and insisted they did not represent a failure by intelligence services. `As far as the general threat assessment was concerned, we didn’t have prior knowledge of this attack,’ he said, after questions were raised about the alertness status of the security services. `We obviously are looking very carefully at all our intelligence to see if anything was missed but in fact we don’t believe anything was missed. It just came out of the blue,’ Clarke told Sky News television.

In the newspaper interview last year, Bakri said the Madrid bombings, in which 10 blasts killed 191 people in four trains, were carried out by a group of independent actors who backed Osama bin Laden’s organization. `There are many youths who dream of joining Al-Qaeda, but worse than that, there are many `freelancers’ who are willing to launch operations similar to those by Al-Qaeda,’ he said. `The attack in Madrid was carried out by one of those groups.’ Asked if Al-Qaeda had a connection to the Madrid attacks, Bakri told the newspaper: `Perhaps they did but the operation got out of their control.’ He said the network had some 11,000 members around the world working towards the aim of establishing a grand pan-Islamic caliphate covering several countries with majority Muslim populations. `With September 11, Al-Qaeda convinced Muslims that it has the power to put its plan in practice,’ he said. Spanish authorities believe the Madrid train bombings were carried out by a group called the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM), suspected of Al-Qaeda links. During the investigation into the London bomb attacks some reports said the British police were hunting for a radical Muslim cleric suspected of leading the GICM. Police have refused to comment on the reports about the cleric, Mohammed al Garbuzi, a Moroccan who lived in Britain for 16 years and is said to have vanished from his home in north London last year. Reports suggested he may have traveled to France.

Abu Qatada, the alleged Al-Qaeda leader in Europe, is a Palestinian whose real name is Omar Othman. Sentenced in his absence to life in prison in Jordan for his alleged role in a series of attacks, Qatada is under house arrest after spending two and a half years in the Belmarsh high security prison in London. The British government said last year that he was a radical preacher and the most important `inspiration’ for terrorists in the country, including the men of Mohammed Atta, the leader of the September 11, 2001 attacks. In his prayers, notably at Finsbury Park mosque, he established links with Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, and Zacharias Moussaoui, who was linked to the 9/11 plot and is being held in the United States awaiting trial.

So who is Abu Qatada – from the (ABC Australia) … ABC Online … `Police Probe London Link to Madrid Bombings’ – 03/20/2004 – Anti-terrorist police are investigating a `definite link’ between perpetrators of the Madrid train bombings and Islamic hardliners in Britain, the nation’s most senior police officer says. Those liable to face questioning by British police include detained Palestinian cleric Abu Qatada, who British and Spanish authorities say has been a key Al-Qaeda figure in Europe – a claim that he has denied. Metropolitan police commissioner Sir John Stevens was quoted as saying in the Independent newspaper on Friday: `We believe there is a London link with what happened in Madrid.’ `There is a definite link in what has happened,’ he said. Fears of a terror attack in Britain have escalated since the March 11 blasts in Madrid, which killed 202 and injured over 1,500, and ahead of Saturday’s first anniversary of the US and British invasion of Iraq. Prime Minister Tony Blair says he understands why people would be fearful after the Madrid blasts – the worst terrorist atrocity on land in Europe in recent memory. But he added: `The danger this week is the same as the danger last week, the same as the danger a year ago … It’s the same as before September 11, 2001' and that day’s attacks in the United States.

Quoting `a senior anti-terrorist source,’ the Independent newspaper reports the prime suspect in the Madrid blasts, Jamal Zougam, 30, is thought to have traveled to Britain in search of funding and logistical help. One line of inquiry, the newspaper says, is Mr. Zougam’s suspected connection with Abu Qatada, 43, who since October 2002 has been detained without charge at London’s high security Belmarsh prison. Though police and intelligence agents have yet to question him, Sir John says his anti-terrorist team is ready to quiz any of the 13 foreigners, who are being held indefinitely under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act. A 14th detainee, a Libyan known only as M, has been released after the Court of Appeal concluded that he was being illegally held on the basis of `unreliable evidence.’ Qatada, also known as Omar Mahmoud Abu Omar, is a Jordanian-born Palestinian and fundamentalist Islamic cleric who was granted asylum status in Britain in 1994. He was convicted in absentia in Jordan in connection with a series of explosions in 1988 and sentenced to life in prison. He is among nine people arrested by British police in February 2001 for suspected terrorist activities, all of whom were later released. When his name came up after September 11, and his assets were frozen by the British Government, Qatada went on BBC radio to deny having any links with terrorist groups. He did, however, express sympathy for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. – END (AFP and ABC Reports)

Now the question to be asked by all in the UK, Europe, and the US … why was Abu Qatada shielded from Spain by UK authorities, MI5 and why didn’t Mr. Blair’s intelligence services, along with the American’s have the so-called `finger-prints’ on a professed supporter of terror, who was in their custody and definitely linked to at least the Spain and Morocco bombings. He obviously is the point man to investigate first and the probable ringleader of Al-Qaeda in Europe … so again, `Why Did He Have UK Immunity From Spain’ … a fumbled rugby ball perhaps or a stroke of `bad luck’ … with hundreds of dead and injured civilians – their families in both Spain and the UK want to know why? - By John Osborne, Sr. Political Editor – TMPress International Newswire.

2005 TMPress International Newswire. Reprint granted without fee or license, please feel free query for reprint permission.

Article Sources/Citations: TMPress International, AFP, (ABC Australia), The Independent, and international network and newswire services.

TMPress International Newswire and TMPress/United News & Press Features, editorial syndicate newspaper units of TeleMedia Press Syndicate, LLC, Glens Falls, NY – USA (27/7 – Phone/Fax) 760-462-2751

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