Abu Hamza concerns raised by Queen

 
Abu Hamza Abu Hamza is well known in the UK for his sermons held in and around Finsbury Park mosque in London

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The Queen voiced concerns to the previous government about the inability of UK authorities to arrest Abu Hamza al-Masri, it has emerged.

The BBC's Frank Gardner says the Queen told him she had spoken to a home secretary about the issue.

On Monday, a European Court of Human Rights ruling paved the way for the radical cleric to be extradited to the US after an eight-year battle.

The Home Office said the extradition would happen "as quickly as possible".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, our correspondent said the Queen had been upset that there was no way to arrest the radical cleric and spoke to the then home secretary to ask why somebody who appeared to be inciting violence and hatred was still at large.

"Like anybody, she was upset that her country and its subjects were being denigrated by this man," said our correspondent, who stressed that the monarch was not lobbying but "merely voicing the views that many have".

The legal and political importance of this final decision by the European court cannot be overestimated. In the wake of 9/11, Washington and London developed extradition and counter-terrorism strategies designed to make sure that suspects, wherever they were, would face justice.

Now that Strasbourg has stepped aside, there is no other legal avenue open for three of the five.

But there is a question mark over the fate of Babar Ahmad and his co-accused, Syed Talha Ahsan. Campaigners have raised serious questions about the fairness of what has happened to them.

There has been an 11th-hour attempt to privately prosecute the pair because their alleged offences occurred in London.

That may lead to a last attempt to delay their transfer - but many legal experts doubt that it could stop these extraditions, which are so important to both governments.

A spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said it would "never comment on private conversations involving any member of the Royal Family".

The Home Office also said it would not comment on such conversations.

It is rare for the Queen to express opinions on such matters.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said it showed "how deeply concerned" the Queen is for the "welfare of her subjects".

He told BBC News: "It's good that she has mentioned this to the home secretary and absolutely appropriate."

But campaign group Republic has accused the BBC of revealing details of the Queen's interest in the case to put her "on the right side of public opinion".

"The decision to disclose this one conversation while keeping all else secret smacks of a deliberate PR stunt to put the Queen on the right side of public opinion," the group said.

On Monday, a panel of the European court's highest judges declined to refer the case of Abu Hamza and four other terrorism suspects to the European Court's Grand Chamber - the last avenue of appeal open to them in their fight against extradition to the US.

The men have argued that they will face inhumane treatment in the US if they are sent there.

Life imprisonment

But the US authorities, supported by British officials, are now working on arrangements to transfer the men to America to face terrorism charges. It is believed extraditions could happen within three weeks.

Abu Hamza is wanted over allegations he plotted to set up a terrorist training camp in the US and was involved in kidnapping Western hostages in Yemen. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment.

Abu Hamza has argued he would face inhumane and degrading treatment if imprisoned for life without possibility of parole.

His legal battle has lasted more than eight years and cost millions of pounds.

The case of Babar Ahmad - who, with co-accused Syed Talha Ahsan, is alleged to have run a jihadist website in London that provided support to terrorists - is not as clear cut, according to BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw.

Fahad Ansari: "The fight will never be over until Babar (Ahmad) is back home with his family"

Campaigners for Mr Ahmad say the battle to keep him in the UK will continue.

His supporters say he should stand trial in the UK because the alleged offences occurred here.

Earlier this month, a businessman began the process of launching a private prosecution, saying that British suspects should be tried in the UK, not abroad.

Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled al-Fawwaz are accused of being aides to former al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in London.

They said that they faced an inhumane regime of solitary confinement in a special "supermax" prison.

The five men were indicted on terrorism charges by the US between 1999 and 2006.

Abu Hamza and Mr Ahmad have been in custody since 2004, and Mr Ahsan since 2006; the arrests of Mr Bary and Mr al-Fawwaz date back to 1998, making them the longest-held detainees without trial in the UK.

Abu Hamza was convicted in 2006 in the UK of charges including soliciting to murder and stirring up racial hatred, and given a seven-year jail sentence.

Following the European ruling on Monday, US Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said: "We are pleased that the litigation before the European Court of Human Rights in these cases has come to an end, and we will be working with the UK authorities on the arrangements to bring these subjects to the United States for prosecution."

 

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  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 1365.

    Mr Abu Hamza al-Masri, and his so called friends, have absolutely no interest in the Country and its freedoms.
    If you search on Wikipedia you will see his full history.
    Very interesting.... Goodbye Mr Hamza al-Masri.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1364.

    Good, now get rid of him, quickly before he gets a sniff of a chance of some sort of appeal. He and his cohorts are not welcome here anymore.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1363.

    If the BBC really are sorry about disclosing the confidencial comments from our Queen then why hasn't this editorial been removed?

  • Comment number 1362.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1361.

    "1342.tnek_CFP

    Being told something in confidence, then telling the world, then apologising for your slip of the tongue.

    Isn't that a definition of snide?"

    Maybe, but that's how skulduggery gets exposed. Without it people of power and money could do just as they choose without fear of the law (as they did until post WWII).

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1360.

    We are always told by monarchists that the queen is neutral in all things. Then we discover via a slip up that behind the scenes that she does lobby ministers.
    What else has she lobbied on ?
    Fox-hunting ? Inheritance tax ? tax paid on her mothers estate = £0

    Either understand that your position means you MUST remain neutral or get elected.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 1359.

    @1238.Underclass Underdog
    One last try.
    So freedom of speech is allowed to let Abu and his mates spout what they like,

    No he was arrested, charged, found guilty & imprisoned for 7 years for things he said, he's now being extradited to the USA to stand trial for saying things + raising money for terrorists

    simplifying somewhat but thats the essence of it

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1358.

    Does the Queen read the Daily Mail??????????

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1357.

    There is nothing wrong about the Queen speaking to the Home Secretary about matters of public interest - she is our Head of State. I fail to see why the BBC should apologise for reporting this event.
    It is reasonable that if a political figure is involved in issues of public concern, this should be in the public domain.
    The Queen represents us, we should be informed when she speaks on our behalf.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1356.

    Well done Frank Gardener or should that be Spencer! Its no good the BBC saying sorry once you have let the genie out of the bottle - the damage has been done.

    The fact that he gave details about a private conversation is unforgiveable.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1355.

    "I see the anti british broadcasting corporation are pulling out all the stops to try to get the alleged terrorists from being sent to America,even bringing the queen into it,they should be ashamed.Traitors.You will now get all kinds of apologies but dont believe a word of it!"

    Hysterically funny.

    But nobody put a burning torch and a pikestaff into his hand just in case eh?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1354.

    The Hook is off to the Neverland.......

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1353.

    Could it have been that he also breaches Sharia law and hence a hook instead of an arm?

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1352.

    Well done, Ma'am!!

    Perhaps the Queen should send him a telegram telling him to "sling his hooks!" He can keep it as a souvenir of his over-long stay in our country.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 1351.

    Unfortunately, the moderate voice of Islam cannot be heard because the militant voices shout loudest. There was a case in my area where a muslim shopkeeper spoke out about militant activists in his mosque. As a consequence he and his family suffered intimidation from said militants. The moderates need to unite and join us in the condemnation of the Hamzas of this world and what they represent.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1350.

    EU Human Rights??? Forget it... As RATS has No Rights at all in this world. Draining away Tax-Payers money spent on useless legal battle.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1349.

    I seem to remmeber Ken Livingston when he was Mayor of London meeting him on arrival into the UK and telling him that he was "truly truly welcome" even though the more astute Americans rejected his visa application - the multiculturalism theme is not as interesting these days and the political camelieons come and go along with their needs for ethnic votes..........

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1348.

    Tut tut BBC, yes we are all human, even journalists can make mistakes as well as politicians, difference being, the BBC can make an apology and that will be the end of the story. The luxury of being able to make the news agenda.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 1347.

    How dare the BBC put some radical fanatic Muslim ahead of all the other miserable news dished out. I dont care if he rots in jail anywhere but here. He is costing the taxpayer too much money and he is not worth it.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1346.

    Good for the Queen! She's concerned about terrorists in her country! That's wrong because?! As for our 'Super Max" prisons.... small cells with concrete walls? Yeah...that is tough! Well, suck it up, dude! Watch TV! Listen to the radio! read a book! Write a letter! Talk to your family! Welcome to the United States!

 

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