Bin Laden’s former spokesman bound for Britain after US release

Bin Laden’s former spokesman bound for Britain after US release
Adel Abdel Bary, 60, seen here in a court sketch from September 19, was convicted of terror offenses for his role in Al-Qaeda’s 1998 attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people. (Reuters/File Photo)
Short Url
Updated 12 October 2020

Bin Laden’s former spokesman bound for Britain after US release

Bin Laden’s former spokesman bound for Britain after US release
  • Adel Abdel Bary released from prison early due to being at high risk from COVID-19
  • He played a role in Al-Qaeda’s 1998 embassy attacks that claimed 224 lives

LONDON: Osama bin Laden’s former spokesman is due to return to the UK after being released early from prison in the US.

Adel Abdel Bary, 60, was convicted of terror offenses for his role in Al-Qaeda’s 1998 attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.

He was responsible for transmitting Al-Qaeda’s claims of responsibility for the attacks to the media, and for disseminating threats of further violence against US citizens.

Abdel Bary was arrested a year after the 1998 attacks and extradited to the US after a protracted legal battle.

As part of a plea deal, he admitted to three charges, including conspiracy to murder US citizens abroad, and was sentenced to 25 years behind bars. Consideration was made for the 16 years he had already spent in custody.

The Times reported that Abdel Bary, who is asthmatic and obese, was released weeks early on compassionate grounds due to the high risks posed to him by COVID-19.

The Egyptian-born terrorist operated from a base in London, where he claimed asylum. He became head of the London cell of an Egyptian terrorist organization before it merged with Al-Qaeda in 1998.

While working for Al-Qaeda, he spread propaganda on its behalf, assisted with recruitment and provision of funds, and provided cover and support for its military activities. 

The UK government is urgently reviewing Abdel Bary’s situation, and sources told The Times that he would be placed under priority investigation.

“This is not someone who will simply just be walking the streets of Britain again. We are very alive to the risk involved in his potential return,” a government source said.

He will be surveilled by the state for connections with former colleagues or other suspicious activities.

It is understood that he will not be deported from the US until the UK has adequately prepared for his arrival.

Abdel Bary’s son, Abdel-Majed Abdel, was arrested in Spain this year, having joined Daesh in Syria in 2013 and gaining notoriety for posing online with the severed head of a Syrian regime soldier.


France targets mosques in extremism crackdown

Updated 56 sec ago

France targets mosques in extremism crackdown

France targets mosques in extremism crackdown
  • Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that if any of the 76 prayer halls inspected were found to promote extremism they would be closed down
  • Inspections are part of France’s response to two attacks — the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty and the killing of three people in a Nice church

PARIS: French authorities will inspect dozens of mosques and prayer halls suspected of radical teachings starting Thursday as part of a crackdown on extremists following a spate of attacks, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.

Darmanin told RTL radio that if any of the 76 prayer halls inspected was found to promote extremism they would be closed down.

The inspections are part of the government’s response to two brutal recent attacks that shocked France — the October 16 beheading of a teacher who showed his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and the stabbing to death of three people in a church in Nice on October 29.

Darmanin did not reveal which places of worship would be inspected. In a note he sent to regional security chiefs, seen by AFP, he cites 16 addresses in the Paris region and 60 others around the country.

On Twitter Wednesday he said the mosques were suspected of “separatism” — a term President Emmanuel Macron has used to describe ultraconservative Muslims closing themselves off from French society by, for example, enrolling their children in underground schools or forcing young girls to wear the Muslim headscarf.

The rightwing minister told RTL the fact that only a fraction of the around 2,600 Muslim places of worship in France were suspected of peddling radical theories showed “we are far from a situation of widespread radicalization.”

“Nearly all Muslims in France respect the laws of the Republic and are hurt by that (radicalization),” he said.
The killing of teacher Samuel Paty, who had shown his pupils cartoons of Mohammad in a class on free speech, at a school outside Paris sent shockwaves through France, where it was seen as an attack on the republic itself.

In the aftermath of his murder the authorities raided dozens of associations, sports groups and charities suspected of promoting extremism.
They also ordered the temporary closure of a large mosque in the Paris suburb of Pantin that had shared a vitriolic video lambasting Paty.

The government has also announced plans to step up the deportations of illegal migrants on radicalization watchlists.
Darmanin said that 66 of 231 foreigners on a watchlist had been expelled, around 50 others had been put in migrant detention centers and a further 30 had been placed under house arrest.

The minister announced the latest clampdown after receiving fierce criticism for pushing a bill that would make it harder to document police brutality.

Images of officers beating up black music producer Michel Zecler in his studio brought tens of thousands of people onto the streets last weekend against Darmanin’s push to restrict the filming of the police in the new bill.
MPs from Macron’s ruling Republic on the Move party have since announced plans to rewrite the legislation.