- Obama downplays IRS scandal, blames Obamacare rollout on ‘outdated’ agencies
- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
- Pentagon plans to destroy Syrian chemical arms on ship at sea
- Paris Metro issues ‘politeness manual’ to improve passengers’ behavior
- Justin Bieber, crew detained at Australian airport in drug search
- Lee Rigby trial: Muslim who machete-hacked soldier calls it ‘humane’ kill
- GM ending Chevy sales in Europe to focus on Opel and Vauxhall
- Putin’s diplomats to U.S. busted for living high life off $1.5M bilked from Medicaid
- Happy Meal: Couple goes to McDonald’s, leaves with bag packed with cash
- Boehner: It took me 3 to 4 hours to sign up for Obamacare
Jordan charges radical cleric deported from Great Britain
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — A radical Muslim preacher described as a key al Qaeda operative in Europe rejected terrorism charges Sunday linked to alleged plots targeting Americans and Israelis in Jordan, his lawyer said, hours after Britain deported him to bring an end to a decadelong legal saga over his extradition.
Jordan first submitted an extradition request to British authorities for the militant cleric known as Abu Qatada in 2001, but it was blocked in British and European courts over human rights concerns. Last month, Britain and Jordan ratified a treaty on torture aimed at easing those worries, paving the way for the 53-year-old preacher's deportation.
Abu Qatada arrived at Amman's civilian airport early Sunday on board a British aircraft and immediately was whisked away by heavily armed anti-terrorism police for questioning at a nearby courthouse. Police sealed off the area as the convoy drove against traffic to the court building, just across the street from the airport. Armed policemen kept a crush of journalists at bay.
After nearly two hours of questioning, Jordanian prosecutors charged Abu Qatada with conspiring to carry out terror attacks in Jordan twice — once in 1999 for a foiled plot against the American school in Amman and another time in 2000 for allegedly targeting Israeli and American tourists and Western diplomats during New Year's celebrations.
In both cases, Abu Qatada was convicted in absentia years ago and sentenced to life in prison. With his return, those sentences have been suspended and he will receive a new trial.
Abu Qatada's lawyer, Tayseer Thiab, said his client "told military prosecutors that he is not guilty of terrorism and rejected the charges against him."
Jordanian authorities ordered Abu Qatada held for 15 days pending further questioning, according to one of the prosecutors. He said the cleric will be held at Muwaqar I, a prison in Amman's southeastern industrial suburb of Sahab. The military district attorney banned the publication of the prosecutors' names.
Mr. Thiab said he will try to free his client on bail Monday.
Outside the courthouse, Abu Qatada's father, Mahmoud, told The Associated Press that his "son is innocent, and I hope the court will set him free."
The cleric's younger brother, Ibrahim, said he and his father met with Abu Qatada for 15 minutes in the prosecutor's office and that his brother "looked well and in high spirits." He said that the three prayed together and that the cleric "kissed my dad's hands and feet when he saw him." He told them British and Jordanian authorities had not used handcuffs.
"How do you think I felt seeing my brother after 22 years?" Ibrahim said. "Look at my eyes and you'll know the answer."
Abu Qatada, whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman, has been described in courts in Britain and Spain as a senior al Qaeda figure in Europe who had close ties to the late Osama bin Laden.
Britain accused him of links with Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in the United States over the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and with shoe bomber Richard Reid. Audio recordings of some of the cleric's sermons were found in an apartment in Hamburg, Germany, used by some of the Sept. 11 hijackers.
Abu Qatada arrived in Britain on a forged passport in 1993 after fleeing a Jordanian government crackdown on militants. He was granted asylum in the United Kingdom a year later, but he eventually wore out his welcome because of his suspected militant activities, which allegedly included raising funds to finance terror plots in Jordan.
British authorities first tried to deport Abu Qatada in 2001, then detained him a year later under anti-terrorism laws, which at the time allowed suspected terrorists to be jailed without charge. Though he was released in 2005 when the unpopular law was overturned, the cleric was kept under close surveillance and detained in various ways.
He most recently was being held at London's Belmarsh Prison after breaching a bail condition in March that restricted the use of mobile phones and communication devices.
In London, British Home Secretary Theresa May announced Abu Qatada's departure Sunday in a statement and expressed confidence that the British public would welcome the end to the saga.
"This dangerous man has now been removed from our shores to face the courts in his own country," she said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron expressed his "delight" at Abu Qatada's deportation, which he called "a priority" for his government.
Britain's original efforts to deport Abu Qatada were blocked by courts over concerns that evidence obtained under torture could be used against him. After years of successfully fighting the numerous attempts to expel him from the U.K., Abu Qatada recently indicated he would voluntarily return to Jordan if it and Britain ratified a treaty on torture.
That treaty — which explicitly bans the use of evidence "where there are serious and credible allegations that a statement from a person has been obtained by torture or ill-treatment" — was ratified by Britain and Jordan last month, clearing the final hurdle for his deportation.
Jordanian Information Minister Mohammed Momani said the kingdom "is keen on credibility and transparency" in handling Abu Qatada's case. He also said the cleric's deportation "sends a message to all fugitives that they will face justice in Jordan."
&8226; Associated Press writer Cassandra Vinograd in London contributed to this article.
Why such hatred toward America's freedom of religion?
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality: liberal group
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- CARSON: Getting to the top by starting at the bottom
- Activists encourage Obama to circumvent Congress, use more executive authority
- Russian diplomats busted bilking $1.5 million from Medicaid
- Democratic infighting erupts over 'we can have it all' fantasy on entitlements
- Obama returns to class warfare as poll numbers plunge
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Obama lived with Uncle Onyango Obama in the 1980s, White House admits
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
Understanding economic events with a free market explanation
John Wood illustrates a new American politics, and the path to get there.
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
White House pets gone wild!