Radical preacher sent back to UK jail

Updated 13 March 2013
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Radical preacher sent back to UK jail

LONDON: A British judge sent radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada back to jail on Saturday for breaching his bail terms, two days before the government begins an appeal against a court decision blocking his deportation to Jordan.
Accused by the British authorities of posing a security risk and providing spiritual inspiration for one of the 9/11 hijackers, Qatada is wanted in his native Jordan to face terrorism charges.
Successive British governments have tried for years to get rid of the cleric, who has been in and out of jail since first being arrested in 2001. He has been living at a house in London under tight bail conditions including a 16-hour curfew.
He was arrested on Friday for breaching his bail terms, and on Saturday the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) dealing with his case held an urgent telephone hearing into the matter.
After that hearing, Judge Stephen Irwin issued an order revoking Qatada’s bail and ordering him to be detained first by London’s Metropolitan Police and later at Belmarsh Prison.
The judge set a hearing for March 21 to further consider Qatada’s bail.
The judge’s order said that evidence suggested Qatada had breached bail conditions prohibiting him from allowing mobile phones to be switched on in his house while he is present and from allowing communications equipment such as re-writable CDs to be brought into his house.
In the latest of a series of legal blocks to the cleric’s deportation, denounced by Home Secretary Theresa May, SIAC ruled in his favor in November last year. Qatada says a trial in Jordan might be skewed by evidence obtained using torture.
“I am pleased to say (Qatada) is now going to be re-detained following the hearing at SIAC this afternoon,” May said during a speech to a political conference shortly after the judge’s ruling, to cheers from the audience.
May’s appeal against the November SIAC decision is scheduled to be heard in the Court of Appeal on Monday.
There was no connection between Qatada’s arrest and the looming appeal. The Court of Appeal will consider the issue of whether Qatada would get a fair trial in Jordan, not the issue of his bail.
The Sun newspaper, which first reported news of Qatada’s arrest, said counter-terrorism police had searched his north London home for 12 hours on Thursday.
A police spokesman said searches had taken place on Thursday “in connection with ongoing inquiries by the counter-terrorism command,” adding that no hazardous materials had been recovered.
The cleric, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, was once described by a Spanish judge as “Osama Bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe.”
Britain says videos of his sermons influenced Mohammed Atta, ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington in 2001.
Under a deal struck in 2005, Jordan has given Britain diplomatic assurances about his treatment and guarantees that court hearings would be fair.
Jordan convicted Qatada in his absence of encouraging militants there who planned bomb attacks in 1999 and 2000. Under the 2005 deal, however, he will have a retrial if he is eventually returned to Jordan.


Pakistan vows to fight extremism under the banner of Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Updated 27 min 20 sec ago
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Pakistan vows to fight extremism under the banner of Shanghai Cooperation Organization

  • Pakistan hosts meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO-RATS) to discuss enhancing counter-terrorism cooperation among the member states.
  • Pakistan should also enhance bilateral relationship with the SCO members as Euro-Asia is going to be an economic hub.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan vowed to eliminate terrorism and extremism in the region by working with Shanghai Cooperation Organization as the three-day meeting got under way in Islamabad.
“Pakistan fully supports and welcomes the efforts of SCO-RATS in the fight against three evils of terrorism, extremism and separatism,” Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua said at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO-RATS) meeting.
Legal experts from the eight member states — China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan — as well as representatives of the SCO-RATS executive committee, were taking part in the meeting.
It is the first SCO meeting to be held in Pakistan since it joined the organization in June 2017. The main purpose of the meeting is to discuss terrorist threats facing the region and how to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation between the member states.
“We support the SCO consensus that as we engage in the fight against terrorism, we must respect the norms and principles of international law, UN Charter and shun double standards,” the Foreign Secretary said.
She also emphasized that terrorism cannot and should not be identified with any religion, individual countries or nationalities.
She said: “We have lost thousands of our citizens and law enforcement personnel, with many more injured. We have also suffered economic losses of more than $120 billion.”
But human and financial losses have not dented Pakistan’s determination to fight this menace, she said, adding that comprehensive efforts over the past several years, supported by a firm domestic political consensus, have helped Pakistan to turn the tide against terrorism.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a permanent intergovernmental international organization, which was founded on June 15, 2001 in Shanghai, China.
Former ambassadors, political and security analysts view the first-ever SCO meeting in Islamabad as an opportunity for the government to present its case against terrorism and extremism effectively to the international community.
Former ambassador Mohammed Ayaz Wazir said it was good for Pakistan to be hosting the hold the meeting at a time when some hostile countries have been trying to isolate it in the international community.
“Pakistan should also enhance bilateral relationship with the SCO members as Euro-Asia is going to be an economic hub and peace center of the world,” he told Arab News.
Wazir pointed out that immediate benefit of the SCO platform is that Pakistan and India have been talking to each other despite being reluctant to revive the bilateral talks on several important issues.
“For peace and development in the region, all member states of the SCO should shun their petty differences and devise cogent mechanisms of cooperation and collaboration,” he said.
Tahir Malik, professor at a public-sector university and political analyst, said it has become a global challenge to overcome the menaces of terrorism and extremism, that no country could deal with effectively acting alone.
“All SCO member states should cooperate in the fields of research and technology to promote knowledge-based economy and peace in the region,” he told Arab News.