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Newsblog: 3-10 February

10/02/2012

Despite a European Court of Human Rights ruling that blocked his deportation to Jordan, the British government is still seeking to deport radical cleric Abu Qatada. Qatada, whose real name is Omar Othman, is considered one of the most influential Islamist clerics in Europe and has supported a series of jihadist causes and attacks. However, because he faces trial in Jordan, where the prosecution would likely rely on evidence gained through torture, the Human Rights court blocked his deportation. He has been held for six-and-a-half years in a British prison while his deportation case has been fought but this week a British judge ruled that he should be released on bail, under strict conditions, until his final situation is determined. The British government and Qatada’s lawyers will now have three months to appeal the ruling to the Grand Chamber of the ECHR. According to statements made by Attorney General Dominic Grieve this week, the UK is pleased that the ECHR had acknowledged that Qatada himself would not be at risk of torture if he was deported to Jordan. The court has made clear that if the British government can obtain assurances from Jordan that no tainted-by-torture evidence will be used in his trial, it would lift its hold on deportation.

The Royal United Services Institute has warned that Britain faces a growing threat of a ‘lone wolf’ style terrorist attack. The think tank estimates that approximately 50 Britons are currently fighting alongside Al Shabaab in Somalia and that when they return home they will constitute a threat to national security. The report also warns that the return of these fighters could coincide with the release from prison of a number of convicted terrorists, charged throughout the last decade.

Two German nationals have been jailed in London after pleading guilty to possession of documents useful to terrorism. Both men are converts to Islam and will automatically be deported. One was sentenced to 16 months and the other 12 months. They were arrested in July 2011 in possession of electronic copies of Inspire magazine. The prosecutor said that tickets to the UK had been bought for both men by a third individual who had links with suspected terrorists. Other documents found in their possession were instructions on making homemade bombs and retrofitting a car as a terrorist device.