Radical cleric Abu Qatada has been variously described as a “truly dangerous individual” and a “key UK figure” in al-Qaeda related terror activity.

And the government’s attempt to deport him leading to Today’s European Court judgement, is at the heart of a massive post-9/11 battle in the UK between security and human rights.

The Palestinian-Jordanian father-of-five has been fighting against deportation for six years – and at least 15 other cases may be affected in some way by the outcome in his.
His defeat at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in February 2007 represented a major victory for the government’s strategy of finding ways of deporting terrorism suspects who it says it cannot put on trial in the UK.

Abu Qatada, whose real name is Omar Othman, became one of the UK’s most wanted men in December 2001. He disappeared just as Parliament was introducing a power to detain foreign terrorism suspects without charge or trial.
The 51-year-old scholar had arrived in the UK in September 1993 and claimed asylum, saying that he had been tortured in Jordan. He had been living in Pakistan near the Afghan border shortly before his arrival in the UK.

In 1994 he was recognised as a refugee and allowed to remain.

And today the European Court ruled that he couldn’t be deported to Jordan because it breaches his human rights despite one of his many rulings having been that he said it was Islamically lawful to kill the wives and children of “apostates” – those who have rejected Islam – in order to stop the oppression in Algeria.

Yet we seem happy to extradite Gary McKinnon for computer hacking and Richard O’Dwyer for breach of copyright.

God help us!