'Threats to UK security' detained
BBC | August 11 2005
Abu Qatada, the so-called European Ambassador for Al-Qaeda is very familiar to the British government, having been under their protection for over three years. MI5 even offered Qatada a chance to escape to Afghanistan after 9/11, he's their boy.
Ten foreign nationals who the Home Office says pose a threat to national security have been detained in the UK.
The Jordanian cleric Abu Qatada, who is subject to a control order, is among them, the BBC has learned.
Home Secretary Charles Clarke confirmed 10 people would be detained pending deportation but he did not name them.
The raids, in Leicestershire, London, Luton and the West Midlands, follow an agreement between the UK and Jordan that deportees would not be persecuted.
Mr Clarke confirmed: "The immigration service has today detained 10 foreign nationals who I believe pose a threat to national security."
He added: "The circumstances of our national security have changed. It is vital that we act against those who threaten it."
Meanwhile, London-based radical cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed has been arrested in Beirut, Lebanon.
Under the Human Rights Act, the UK cannot deport anyone to a country where they may face persecution.
Some of those arrested come from Lebanon and Algeria, as well as Jordan. All three countries have poor human rights records.
But the government has been negotiating with 10 countries - including Lebanon, Algeria and Jordan - to gain guarantees any deportees will not be mistreated.
Announcing the agreement with Jordan reached on Wednesday, Mr Clarke said that "following months of diplomatic work" he believed he had the necessary assurances that deportees to Jordan would "not be subject to torture or ill-treatment".
But human rights groups including Liberty and Amnesty International believe such agreements will do nothing to safeguard the rights of those who are deported.
Abu Qatada was one of the so-called Belmarsh detainees, who was detained in the high security jail without charge for around two years.
At least two other former Belmarsh detainees, known only by the letters Q and I, are said to be among those arrested on Thursday.
The man known as I is an Algerian who claimed asylum in the UK in early 1995. He was detained in April 2002, accused of supporting and raising funds for terrorist groups.
They were all released under "control orders" - a type of house arrest - earlier this year.
Abu Qatada has been sentenced in his absence to life in prison by a Jordanian court in relation to a series of explosions there.
The Met Police and the Bedfordshire, Leicestershire and West Midlands forces took part in Thursday's raids alongside immigration officials.
The 10 are now in the custody of the prison service.
BBC home affairs correspondent Jane Hughes said their legal teams were expected to appeal against deportation.
She said: "We wouldn't expect anyone to be actually departing for a number of months."
The raids came just days after the government announced it was considering plans to establish and international extremist database.
The system would allow radical preachers and other extremists to be vetted before they enter the UK