Abu Qatada

Abu Qatada is a U.S.- and U.N.-designated cleric and propagandist for al-Qaeda.“TREASURY DEPARTMENT RELEASES LIST OF 39 ADDITIONAL SPECIALLY DESIGNATED GLOBAL TERRORISTS,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, October 12, 2001, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/po689.aspx; “QDi.031 OMAR MAHMOUD UTHMAN,” U.N. Security Council, October 17, 2001, http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/NSQDi031E.shtml; Fabio Merone, “Salafism in Tunisia: An Interview with a Member of Ansar Al-Sharia,” Jadaliyya, April 11, 2013, http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/11166/salafism-in-tunisia_an-interview-with-a-member-of-. He was at one point considered Osama bin Laden’s “spiritual ambassador in Europe,” according to the United Nations.“QDi.031 OMAR MAHMOUD UTHMAN,” United Nations Security Council, March 9, 2009, https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list/summaries/individual/omar-mahmoud-uthman. Qatada, whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammad Othman, is a Jordanian of Palestinian descent accused of spreading radicalism and influencing jihadists such as the September 11 hijackers.John F. Burns, “After Legal Marathon, Britain Deports Terrorist Suspect,” New York Times, July 6, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/07/world/europe/after-legal-marathon-britain-deports-terrorist-suspect.html.

The United Nations accuses Qatada of encouraging “the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism.”“QDi.031 OMAR MAHMOUD UTHMAN,” United Nations Security Council, March 9, 2009, https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list/summaries/individual/omar-mahmoud-uthman. The United Nations further accuses Qatada of fundraising for al-Qaeda-related groups.“QDi.031 OMAR MAHMOUD UTHMAN,” United Nations Security Council, March 9, 2009, https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list/summaries/individual/omar-mahmoud-uthman. After an eight-year battle in British courts to avoid deportation, Qatada returned to Jordan in 2013. Two courts found him innocent of terrorism charges in 2014.Karin Laub, “Jordan acquits radical cleric of terrorism charges,” Associated Press, September 24, 2014, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/fd3b40debd1347968957768f7e0c8456/jordan-acquits-radical-cleric-terrorism-charges. He remains free, presumably in Jordan.

British security services have accused Qatada of granting religious legitimacy to people who want to “further the aims of extreme Islamism and to engage in terrorist attacks.”Dominic Casciani, “Profile: Abu Qatada,” BBC News, June 26, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-16584923. After September 11, 2001, authorities found copies of Qatada’s writings in the German apartment of lead hijacker Mohamed Atta.John F. Burns, “Britain Releases Militant Preacher,” New York Times, February 13, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/14/world/europe/abu-qatada-release.html. Qatada also stands accused of organizing military training trips to Afghanistan, funding the Iraq- and Syria-based terror group Ansar al-Islam, and encouraging Ansar al-Islam to strengthen its ties with al-Qaeda.“QDi.031 OMAR MAHMOUD UTHMAN,” United Nations Security Council, March 9, 2009, https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list/summaries/individual/omar-mahmoud-uthman. A Spanish judge once described him as bin Laden’s “right-hand man in Europe.”John F. Burns, “After Legal Marathon, Britain Deports Terrorist Suspect,” New York Times, July 6, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/07/world/europe/after-legal-marathon-britain-deports-terrorist-suspect.html.

Qatada sought asylum in Great Britain in 1993.Alan Cowell, “Jordanian Court Acquits Islamic Cleric in Terrorism Case,” New York Times, June 26, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/27/world/middleeast/abu-qatada-acquitted-of-terrorism-charges-in-jordan.html. In 1999, a Jordanian court convicted Qatada in absentia on terrorism charges and sentenced him to life in prison.“CASE OF OTHMAN (ABU QATADA) v. THE UNITED KINGDOM,” European Court of Human Rights, September 5, 2012, http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx?i=001-108629#{"itemid":["001-108629"]}. British authorities arrested him several times and sought his deportation. Beginning in 2005, Qatada began an eight-year fight against deportation. The cleric argued Jordanian authorities had tortured him and would employ evidence collected through torture.Alan Cowell, “Jordanian Court Acquits Islamic Cleric in Terrorism Case,” New York Times, June 26, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/27/world/middleeast/abu-qatada-acquitted-of-terrorism-charges-in-jordan.html.

Qatada’s continued presence in the United Kingdom reportedly made British Prime Minister David Cameron “sick to the stomach,” but British law forbade his deportation because of the possibility that Qatada would be tortured if returned to Jordan.John F. Burns, “After Legal Marathon, Britain Deports Terrorist Suspect,” New York Times, July 6, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/07/world/europe/after-legal-marathon-britain-deports-terrorist-suspect.html. Britain and Jordan signed an agreement in April 2013 guaranteeing Qatada a fair trial, which led to his deportation on July 7 that year.John F. Burns, “After Legal Marathon, Britain Deports Terrorist Suspect,” New York Times, July 6, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/07/world/europe/after-legal-marathon-britain-deports-terrorist-suspect.html. Qatada remained defiant during his trials, voicing support for Syrian rebels.Jamal Halaby, “Preacher in Jordan trial appeals to Syria jihadis,” Associated Press, December 24, 2013, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/radical-preacher-jordan-trial. At one point he directly questioned the judge’s fairness, and then told the prosecutor to “Shut up and sit down.”Jamal Halaby, “Preacher in Jordan trial appeals to Syria jihadis,” Associated Press, December 24, 2013, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/radical-preacher-jordan-trial. Nevertheless, two Jordanian courts acquitted Qatada in June and September 2014 of terrorism charges.Karin Laub, “Jordan acquits radical cleric of terrorism charges,” Associated Press, September 24, 2014, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/fd3b40debd1347968957768f7e0c8456/jordan-acquits-radical-cleric-terrorism-charges.

Qatada has been an outspoken critic of ISIS.Associated Press, “Radical Preacher Rebukes Extremists in Syria,” New York Times, January 30, 20144, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2014/01/30/world/middleeast/ap-ml-jordan-radical-preacher.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0. Some analysts believe the Jordanian government hopes to use anti-ISIS radical clerics like Qatada to turn jihadists away from the terror group.Peter Beaumont, “Abu Qatada verdict illustrates Jordan’s logic in fight against Islamic State,” Guardian (London), September 24, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/24/abu-qatada-verdict-jordan-logic-islamic-state; Ariel Ben Solomon, “’Jordan playing with fire by backing extremists opposed to Islamic State,’” Jerusalem Post, December 15, 2014, http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Jordan-playing-with-fire-by-backing-extremists-opposed-to-Islamic-State-384659.

United Nations
October 17, 2001

The U.N. Security Council designated “Omar Mahmoud Uthman” as an associate of “Usama bin Laden and individuals and entities associated with him” on October 17, 2001.“QDi.031 OMAR MAHMOUD UTHMAN,” United Nations Security Council, March 9, 2009, https://www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/1267/aq_sanctions_list/summaries/individual/omar-mahmoud-uthman.

United Kingdom
October 17, 2001

The United Kingdom added “Mahmoud Omar Uthman” to its Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets on October 17, 2001.“Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets in the UK,” U.K. HM Treasury, last updated June 2, 2015, http://hmt-sanctions.s3.amazonaws.com/sanctionsconlist.htm.

United States
October 12, 2001

The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated “Omar Mahmoud Uthman” a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on October 12, 2001.“TREASURY DEPARTMENT RELEASES LIST OF 39 ADDITIONAL SPECIALLY DESIGNATED GLOBAL TERRORISTS,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, October 12, 2001, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/po689.aspx.

United States
October 12, 2001

The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated “Omar Mahmoud Uthman” a Specially Designated Global Terrorist on October 12, 2001.“TREASURY DEPARTMENT RELEASES LIST OF 39 ADDITIONAL SPECIALLY DESIGNATED GLOBAL TERRORISTS,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, October 12, 2001, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/po689.aspx.

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