As Abu Qatada is released from jail, British followers of the radical cleric post online sermons calling Britons “enemies of Allah” and lauding the preacher in the same breath as Osama bin Laden.
Qatada (aka Omar Othman), once described by Spanish counterterrorism judge Baltasar Garzon as bin Laden’s “spiritual ambassador in Europe”, was released from Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire on Monday night and will wear an electronic tag.
In some of the tightest restrictions on bail imposed in Britain, he is also banned from using the internet or telephone.
The Jordanian citizen is wanted on terrorism charges in Jordan, where he was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment, and in Algeria, the US, Belgium, Spain, France, Germany and Italy.
German authorities investigating the Hamburg cell of al-Qaeda found his tapes in the home of Mohamed Atta, who flew American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11.
Qatada’s case is a clear example that these kuffar, these enemies of Allah, will never bring justice – Abu Addullah Al-Britani
Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker of 9/11, who was prevented from taking part only because he was already under arrest, and Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a Paris-Miami plane with a bomb in his shoe, are both said to have been inspired by Qatada.
Last month, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled he could not be deported to Jordan – where he faces terror charges – without assurances from Amman that evidence gained through torture would not be used against him.
And in the weeks leading up to his release, Qatada’s supporters have started up support groups on social media websites and posted sermons celebrating his release.
But several of the videos could be construed as stirring up hatred against non-Muslims and glorifying terrorism.
Abu Abdullah Al-Britani, a preacher on the controversial British-based Izharudeen website, posted a sermon on YouTube last week, entitled: ‘British injustice of Sheikh Abu Qatada’
In it he says: “[The case of Qatada] is a clear example that these Kuffar (a derogatory Muslim term for non-believers), these enemies of Allah will never bring justice [because] they make law and order by their own hands.
“So for the Muslims who think that the British law and order is something that is just, than this is clear proof for you that …it is nothing but oppression. Sheik Abu Qatada is our brother.”
In another YouTube video, Anthony Small, a former light middleweight Commonwealth boxing champion, who converted to Islam several years ago, delights in Qatada’s imminent release from prison, and lauds him in the same breath as deceased al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Abu Hamza.
Small, who was among a group of men calling themselves Muslims Against Crusades when they waved banners at the 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment, chanting “British soldiers go to hell” during a march in 2010, uploaded the sermon ‘Message to Abu Qatada’s students, act upon his teaching and stop betraying him!’ three weeks ago.
“What is hardship? Hardship is them locking up Sheikh Abu Qatada, them locking up Abu Hamza, them locking up Sheikh [Abdullah] al-Faisal [the extremist preacher who was deported from the UK for inciting racial hatred] …and killing Anwar al-Awlaki and killing Osama bin Laden: that’s the hardship,” he says.
“I call you to get back on board the ship and continue to strive and struggle and be of those who die engaging in your obligations … to repel all (foreigners) from Muslim lands…and reject democracy.
“So stop being has-beens, [those who say] ‘I used to be with Sheikh so and so, Sheikh Abu Qatada, Sheikh Abu Hamza. Yes, it’s good you’ve been a student of them, but stop forsaking them: be engaged with the struggle …They sacrificed their time, their wealth and their freedom, and the likes of Awlaki even sacrificed his life: do not forsake the scholars…act upon their teachings.”
The posts were uploaded after three men were jailed last week after becoming the first to be convicted of stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation for handing out a leaflet calling for gay people to be executed.
Ihjaz Ali, Kabir Ahmed and Razwan Javed gave out the pamphlet, entitled The Death Penalty?, that showed an image of a mannequin hanging from a noose and quoted Islamic texts that said capital punishment was the only way to rid society of homosexuality. Ali was jailed for two years and Ahmed and Javed for 15 months each.
A Facebook page, entitled ‘Free Shaykh Abu Qatadah’ has also been put up, attracting scores of comments from people welcoming the release of the cleric.