The deportation of Abu Hamza from Britain to the United States brings to a close a long-running scandal. The man has made a mockery of Britain and its law in general, exposing how feeble and incompetent procedures are when it comes to protection against individuals like him. Britain, he famously jeered, is “a paradise where you can do what you like.”
Born in Egypt, Abu Hamza came to Britain nominally as a student. He lost both hands and one of his eyes fighting in Afghanistan, though this may be his romancing of an accident with explosives in his home. Strong-arm methods gave him control of the well-known Finsbury Park mosque in London. Young Muslims attended and every Friday he whipped them up to hate non-Muslims. He regularly praised the September 11 terrorists and jihad. When forbidden to preach in the mosque, he simply continued to do so in the street. The police stood around doing nothing, evidently out of fear of what might happen if these potential jihadis couldn’t do what they liked. Had an Englishman been inciting compatriots to acts of terror in Muslim countries, the lot would have been arrested on the spot. When the police at last raided the mosque, they found weapons, equipment against chemical warfare and more than a hundred stolen or forged passports.
British courts sentenced him to prison in 2004 while United States authorities requested his extradition. A federal grand jury in New York had then indicted him on eleven counts of terror-related crimes, including trying to set up an al-Qaeda training camp in Oregon. Lawyers on his behalf used every conceivable device to spare him from being brought to justice. Proceedings in the British courts and then the European Court of Human Rights dragged on for eight years and cost a million pounds. Deported with him were four other Muslims involved in terror or its funding, and one of them spun out facing justice for no less than fourteen years. Senior British judges and the Home Secretary as well have spoken out strongly against the way the process of law is itself an injustice, but it is quite clear that nothing much will happen for years, or at least until the wish to appease the unappeasable stops.