Yesterday, both the British people and their government received a reminder of the fact that in many ways, they are no longer masters of their own destiny. After the European Court of Human Rights decided in mid-January that Britain could not extradite to Jordan Abu Qatada al-Filistini, a radical Islamist preacher who was described as Osama Bin Laden’s right hand man in Europe and who is wanted on terror charges in several countries around the world, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission ordered the release of the man after the prolonged period during which he was under arrest pending deportation.
Abu Qatada was deported from Kuwait to Jordan after the Gulf War, entered Britain in 1993 using a forged passport and requested and received British asylum on the grounds of religious persecution. His extremist sermons in support of Islamist terrorism served as an inspiration to several al-Qaida terrorists including Mohamed Atta who led the terror attack on New York on September 11th, 2001. After he was sentenced in his absence to life imprisonment in Jordan, the Jordanians gave assurances that if he would be extradited, he would be treated in accordance with international law, but that was not enough for the omnipotent European Court – in the opinion of the learned judges, it was impossible to guarantee that Abu Qatada would not be convicted in the future using evidence obtained from others under torture. In short – the human rights of the preacher of terror were deemed more important than the human rights of the hundreds of victims that will be killed in future terror attacks inspired by him.
In view of the assessments made by the British security services and by the British Home Secretary Teresa May that Abu Qatada still poses a serious security threat to Britain and its citizens, he will have to remain in a house arrest for 22 hours a day, and will not be allowed to use a mobile phone or the internet or to meet with a long list of terror suspects. Not that these restrictions worry Abu Qatada too much – his spiritual teacher Osama Bin Laden managed quite well for years using messengers that delivered his notes and recorded cassettes. And as to the British people – they were never asked for their consent to transfer the sovereignty over their country’s judicial affairs to the EU’s bureaucrats. The only thing they ever agreed to in a referendum in 1975 was to join a European common market, not an overpowering super state that will turn Britain’s sovereignty over its judicial and security affairs into a joke.