Ex Acton Resident Loses Appeal

suspect held under anti terror act

An ex Acton resident who Government ministers claim to be the most significant spiritual leader of Islamic militants in the country has lost his appeal against being detained as a suspected terrorist under David Blunkett’s emergency powers.

Abu Qatada, 43, born Omar Othman, caused embarrassment to security officials by going missing from his home in Acton just one day before the controversial law under which he is being held, The Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001, came in.

The father of five, was on the run for ten months and was found hiding in a flat in Bermondsey, South London, in October 2002.The authorities claim that he came to Britain in 1993 using fraudulent identity documents to claim asylum.

Abu Qatada, a Palestinian with Jordanian nationality, denies any involvement in terrorism, his counsel Ben Emmerson, QC, told an earlier hearing. Mr Emmerson said that he was refusing to take part in person in any hearings, as he believed that the outcome of his appeal was “a foregone conclusion”.

Investigators from half a dozen European countries are anxious to question him over his alleged contacts with suicide bombers and senior al-Qaeda terrorists.

He is one of 16 suspected foreign terrorists detained without trial because human rights laws make it impossible to deport them to countries where they may be maltreated. None has yet won an appeal. No date has yet been set for the formal ruling on Abu Qatada. The Home Office said that it will not comment until after that hearing.

January 31st 2004