Guardian’s former associate foreign editor: I know Abu Qatada – he’s no terrorist.


A Jordanian military prosecutor on Sunday filed charges against the radical Muslim preacher Abu Qatada on suspicions of being a key al-Qaeda operative in Europe.  Abu Qatada, who had landed in Amman after being deported from the UK, was charged with conspiring to carry out attacks on Americans, Israelis and other Western targets.

The following is a ‘Comment is Free’ headline and strap line which introduces a July 7 commentary‘ by the Guardian’s former associate foreign editor (and Palestinian Solidarity Campaign ‘Patron), Victoria Brittain.

victoria

Whilst I suggest you read the whole essay, here are some highlights:

the most recent phase of this long saga has left poison in our society. The home secretary, prime minister, mayor of London, countless MPs – including senior Labour party figures – have led the media in reckless and prejudiced comments, making [Abu Qatada] the most demonised individual in Britain.

The mantra of the home secretary, Theresa May, that “this is a dangerous man, a suspected terrorist”, has been repeated so often that the facts have been forgotten. No one suggests Othman is physically dangerous himself. No one has charged him with anything, except the Jordanians with the torture-tainted evidence. No one has pointed to anything controversial that he is alleged to have said since the mid-1990s.

Our security services and politicians turned this man into an Islamic counter-terrorism myth. If instead they had chosen to talk to him, as I have many times, they would have found that the man behind the myth is a scholar with wide intellectual and cultural interests. He wrote books while he was in prison. His home is filled with books. His children have excelled at school, with help and encouragement from his daily phone calls from prison.

I have been a friend of Othman’s wife and daughters for some years, and have had many opportunities to talk to him in prison and when he was at home on bail. I’ve been struck by his dignity and lack of bitterness over his family’s treatment, and I believe that, rather than being scapegoated, his moral standards could have been useful in engaging Muslim youth and healing the wounds in our divided society.

Even by Guardian standards, Brittain’s apologia on behalf of Abu Qatada is simply stunning.  And, briefly, for those who may not be completely familiar with Abu Qatada’s dossier, here’s a summary:

A 127-page report by the UK Home Office claims that from his base in London, Abu Qatada became a key al-Qaeda operative in Europe and a “godfather of global terrorism”, whose sermons and writing inspired several al-Qaeda members. Videos of his sermons were found in the Hamburg apartment of Mohammed Atta, a ringleader among the 9/11 hijackers.

Abu Qatada is accused of involvement in a failed plan known as the “millennium conspiracy” in 2000, to detonate explosives against Western and Israeli targets during millennium celebrations.

Abu Qatada became a “mentor” for international jihadists, who quoted his writings often.

In October 1999, Abu Qatada reportedly made a speech in which, as even the Guardian reported, “he effectively issued a fatwa authorising the killing of Jews, including Jewish children.”

In 1999 Abu Qatada told his congregation at Finsbury Park Mosque that Americans should be attacked, wherever they were because, in his view, they were no better than Jews.

In autumn 2002, a poem attributed to Abu Qatada appeared online praising Osama bin Laden and glorifying the 9/11 attacks.

In another sermon he is said to have stated that it was not a sin for a Muslim to kill a non-believer for the sake of Islam.

Abu Qatada is wanted on terrorism charges in the U.S., Belgium, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Algeria and his native Jordan. .

But, evidently none of this matters – not his association with al-Qaeda, or his fatwas calling for violence, including his authorising the murder of Jews and all non-believers – because, the Guardian’s former associate foreign editor assures us, Abu Qatada is a “scholar with wide intellectual and cultural interests” who has high “moral standards” and loves his children.

As we’ve argued previously, the most egregious problem at the Guardian is not, per se, explicitly Judeophobic commentary published by their contributors, but, rather, the insidious moral cover the media group often provides for the most extreme, reactionary Islamist anti-Semites in Europe and the Muslim world.  Those unable to summon outrage over an al-Qaeda supporter who sanctions the murder of innocent Jewish children in the name of Islam are – at the very least – morally guilty of abetting the most dangerous manifestations of Jew hatred.

53 comments on “Guardian’s former associate foreign editor: I know Abu Qatada – he’s no terrorist.

  1. As we’ve argued previously, the most egregious problem at the Guardian is not, per se, explicitly Judeophobic commentary published by their contributors

    … which suggests that the G. publishes explicitly Judeophobic commentary. What was the most recent example of this?

    Those not morally outraged by an al-Qaeda supporter who sanctions the murder of innocent Jewish children in the name of Islam are – at the very least – guilty of aiding and abetting the most dangerous manifestations of Jew hatred around the world.

    Wo-ha! Sounds like thought crime.

    Not that Qatada doesn’t sound like a nasty bastard, mind.

    • Thought crime? Huh? I don’t get it. I’m not suggesting they’re guilty of a criminal offense but, rather, by providing cover for extremist anti-Semites like Qatada they’re guilty of a dangerous moral abdication.

      • Come off it, Adam. You must know what I mean by “thought crime”.
        You made the specific accusation of being “guilty of aiding and abetting the most dangerous manifestations of Jew hatred around the world”.

        • And, I stand by that charge. Islamist extremists represent the greatest collective threat to Jews worldwide. Those who don’t have the courage to say so are at least morally culpable.

          • Don’t you think a phrase like “aiding and abetting” is OTT though?

            Those who don’t have the courage to say so are at least morally culpable.
            That would make you yourself morally culpable and/or aiding and abetting countless ongoing threats/crimes across the planet.

            • He would be if he claimed their perpetrators were innocent when he knew they are not, like Brittain here.

            • Here’s what some of us would consider OTT: Victoria Brittain writing a commentary vouching for the integrity and innocence of an anti-Semitic terrorist, saying he isn’t one because he reads books and loves his children. Pretzelberg, he’s not just ‘nasty.’ He’s a threat to the lives of innocent people.

              • Nah, planktonberg will demand a 100% proof that the anti-Semitic terrorist is really a terrorist and anti-Semitic.

  2. This woman from the Guardian does not understand the very basic tenets of what this man has done. The claim of the religion of peace is that all the land worldwide is the Umma. The very first time they were allowed to hold their prayers in the public street made a huge impact that is now reverberated across the world in every major city every Friday morning. The useful idiots who don’t understand what this means stand aside, take another route to work and simply ignore the manifestation of this territorial claim. All other religions purchase a plot of land, erect a structure and hold their prayers within the confines of their community.

    This infiltration by stealth of their belief into the daily lives of those of other religious beliefs or none is just as much a part of the sermonising as are the lectures and statements as outlined in the article as well as support of organisations that are deemed terrorist and contra to western norms of democracy and freedom.

    • The claim of the religion of peace is that all the land worldwide is the Umma.

      Where did you read that? The Muslim-bashing Telegraph?

      You don’t like Muslims, do you?

      • Anyone not ignorant of the texts and tenets of islam knows that islamic scripture divides the world between the abode of islam (lands under islamic rule) and the abode of war (lands under infidel rule), and that it is a duty incumbent upon all muslims to wage jihad so that the latter will ultimately be completely conquered by the former.

        • it is a duty incumbent upon all muslims to wage jihad

          Where did you read that? The Protocols of the Elders of Mecca?

          • Quran (2:216) – “Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.”

            • Yawn. You can find plenty of warmongering stuff involving the Israelites in the Old Testament as well.
              Only an utter ignoramus – and/or anti-Semite – would claim that the Tanakh makes it a duty incumbent upon all Jews to wage war to conquer other peoples.

              • Obviously in pretzelworld a small anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist fringe of the Jews who takes the Bible literally are equal in numbers and significance with the huge majority of the hundreds of millions of Muslims who consider the Quran’s every world and every letter as the unchallengeable words of God. This is on the same intellectual level like the – he has a library so he can’t be a terrorist. Sometimes to think a second before posting would make you a bit less laughable.

                • So you agree with the poster above that “it is a duty incumbent upon all muslims to wage jihad so that the latter will ultimately be completely conquered by the former”.

                  And you call me laughable?

                  You really are hilarious sometimes!

                  This is on the same intellectual level like the – he has a library so he can’t be a terrorist.

                  Eh? Bizarre!

          • That’s right, pretzelberg. You come here and decide who doesn’t like Muslims for us and call them bigots. I that part of your positive contribution?

            • What’s the matter with you, Jeff? You accuse me of “deciding” who doesn’t like Muslims? You’re OK with the bigoted comments of Sharon Klaff?

      • You don’t like Muslims, do you?
        Why should anybody like anyone because of his/her religion?
        I definitely don’t like anyone who takes his/her medieval religion literally.

        • Your English is good enough for you to know that “don’t like” effectively means “are/is averse to”.

          • Peter’s English is good enough that I understand what he is actually saying. Why are you so thick? Having a bad day? Or are you simply intolerant of the opinions of others when they conflict with your own attitudes and prejudices, you know, like a bigot?

  3. Perhaps Victoria Brittain should have read the book, by a former colleague of hers and still South Asia correspondent for ‘The Guardian’ and ‘The Observer’ Jason Burke, “Al Qaeda, the true story of radical Islam”.
    From the 2004 paperback edition page 185, ” Qutada himself had become famous after issuing an opinion on an Algerian cleric’s fatwa in 1994, in which he backed the view that the killing of women and children by militants in Algeria was justified.”
    There are many parts of the book that show the links between bin Laden and Abu Qutada.

  4. This woman is, as I recall, “Blue Baby Brittain” (Gaza) and “Israel deliberately floods Gaza when it rains to poison Gazans Brittain”.

    A deranged creature like this writing for the Guardian makes CP Snow turn in his grave.

    • But AKUS she has huge experience judging who is a criminal and who is not.
      From the Independent:
      The bank account of a senior executive at The Guardian newspaper was used as a conduit for pounds 250,000 of Libyan money to bankroll a libel action against The Independent, according to a former MI5 officer.
      Victoria Brittain, the newspaper’s deputy foreign editor, was allegedly instrumental in the funding of a lawsuit brought by Kojo Tsikata, former head of the Ghanaian security service. Mr Tsikata issued a writ against The Independent in 1993 over an article which referred to the murder of three high-court judges in Ghana. The case is still going through the courts.

      Yesterday Ms Brittain’s lawyers issued a statement saying she had never knowingly received money from Libyan sources.

      But there was no rebuttal of the claim that pounds 250,000 went through her bank account, and she did not deny the involvement of Mr Tsikata. Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian, drove to London from his Gloucestershire home for talks with Ms Brittain last night.

      • As usual, when I read this, I though “Unbelievable!”.

        Then reality set in, and I thought – “No – only too believable”.

        What a piece of work.

  5. One of the high ranking staff members of the Guardian has the intellectual abilities of a not extremely sharp under ten child saying that if you have a decent collection of books (has he a leather bound copy of the Protocols and the Mein Kampf too?) then you can’t be a bad person and she supports the idea that the moral standards of this Jew-hating, gay-hating and kuffar-hating heap of dirt who incites his fellow coreligionists to murder should be useful in engaging Muslim youth and healing the divided society.
    But this extremely low moral and intellectual level is only natural for the Guardian – probably the most anti-Semitic left-liberal newspaper in Europe.

    • It reminds me of Otto – the psychopath played by Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda. He was the most stupid man imaginable, but thought himself an intellectual because he read philosophy. When Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis) called him an ape, he said “Apes don’t read philosophy”. “Yes they do, Otto” came Wanda’s reply “they just don’t understand it.”

      • I was thinking about that very scene with Curtis and Kevin “what was the part in the middle?” Kline just the other day:
        “The first principle of buddhism is not: every man for himself!”

        • Gee that’s funny. Some dickheads automatically voting down my posts!
          What a bunch of assholes!

    • If the G. is anti-Semitic, then where is the Jew hatred all over the homepage? The latter currently features everything from Snowden to cricket, a report about Joyce Carol Oates linking Islam to sexual assault rates, a Hadley Freedman article about summer fashion, and the respective merits of butter vs. margarine.

      And people like you equate the G. with “Der Stürmer”!

      • Thank you for repeating your “he has a library so he can’t be a terrorist” level argument, but you forgot to add their Jewish podcast.

        • Thank you for repeating your “he has a library so he can’t be a terrorist” level argument

          An argument I never made, of course!
          Why do you continue to make this crap up, peter? You must know it will make you look silly.

          And feel additionally silly about your “Der Stürmer” comparisons? You should do.

          • An argument I never made, of course!
            Just a bit more intellectual effort and concentration pretzel and you may be able to understand that I never said you did. I would like to bring to your attention the word “level” in my post. For your sake I’ll try to explain – saying that the Guardian is not anti-Semitic because there is no mention of Jews on its homepage is on the exact same intellectual level than Brittain’s argument ” AQ has a library and family so he can’t be a terrorist.”
            The Guardian is an anti-Semitic rag not because it’s homepage contains any open incitement against Jews but because it publishes articles by well known anti-Semitic ideologues and politicians, it apologizes for openly anti-Semite politicians and celebs, it promotes anti-Semitic “art”, it tolerates classic anti-Semitic tropes in their ATL articles, it tolerates the vilest hate speech against Israel ATL and BTL, it publishes caricatures what the Sturmer would be proud to publish and it gives free forum to every third rate asshole who can dream up anything to delegitimize Israel and to deny it’s right to exist. And please spare me from the bullshit that they want to show opinions from every color of the political/ideological spectrum.
            You must know it will make you look silly. Certainly pretzel, certainly….

            • Just a bit more intellectual effort and concentration pretzel and you may be able to understand that I never said you did

              Just look at your previous post:

              Thank you for repeating your “he has a library so he can’t be a terrorist” level argument

              It’s weird. You seem like an intelligent enough person. But time and time again you make a complete fool of yourself.

              Why? Because your prejudice gets in the way.

              It’s you who needs to think for a minute or two before posting …

              saying that the Guardian is not anti-Semitic because there is no mention of Jews on its homepage is on the exact same intellectual level than Brittain’s argument ” AQ has a library and family so he can’t be a terrorist.”

              Why is it that CiFWatch attracts such a low level of intellect?

              You can do better than that, peter!

              • I know pretzel my intellect is so abysmal that you weren’t able to address any of my points.

                • And what about the argument you claimed I made but I never did?!
                  Pretzel are you pretending or you are really this dumb?!
                  I repeat I never claimed that you did. I compared your laughably childish argument to Brittain’s assertion
                  Maybe this is the high time for you to take a basic reading course.
                  What “points”?
                  I give up pretzel – you won.

                • @ peter

                  In that case: thank you for repeating your “the earth is flat” level argument …

  6. What some seem to be deliberately trying to forget is that Abu Qutada was in the UK illegally. He entered on a forged passport. That alone should have been enough to throw him straight out of the UK, instead it dragged on and has cost in the region of £1,700,000 including £900,000 in his own legal aid to get rid of him.

    In the hearing of 2007 there is this interesting line,
    “The Appellant was born in 1960 near Bethlehem, at that time in Jordan. He arrived in the UK on 16th September 1993 on a forged UAE passport”

    So in the view of the UK courts in 1960 Bethlehem was in Jordan there was no such place as Palestine.

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