in London to Attack
At least 35 terrorists
incarcerated at Guantánamo Bay were sent to fight against the West after being
indoctrinated by extremist preachers in Britain, secret files obtained by
The Daily Telegraph disclose.
Abu Hamza speaks to his followers outside Finsbury Park Mosque. The preacher is named by US authorities
as responsible for recruiting dozens of terrorists Photo: ROB BODMAN
9:30PM BST 25
and Abu Hamza, two preachers who lived off state
benefits after claiming asylum, are identified by the American authorities as
the key recruiters responsible for sending dozens of extremists from throughout
the world to Pakistan and Afghanistan via London mosques.
The leaked WikiLeaks documents,
written by senior US military commanders at Guantánamo Bay, illustrate how, for
two decades, Britain effectively became a crucible of terrorism, with dozens of
extremists, home-grown and from abroad, radicalised
Finsbury Park mosque, in north London, is described as a
“haven” for extremists. United
States intelligence officials concluded the
mosque served as “an attack planning and propaganda production base”.
The files will raise questions
over why the Government and security services failed to take action sooner to
tackle the capital’s reputation as a staging post for terrorism, which became
so established that the city was termed “Londonistan”.
The documents show that at least
35 detainees at Guantánamo had passed through Britain
before being sent to fight against Allied forces in Afghanistan. This is thought to be
more than from any other Western nation.
Of those, 18 were originally from
abroad. The other 17 were British nationals or citizens granted residency here
after claiming asylum, who were indoctrinated before
being sent to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.
The Government has paid millions
of pounds in compensation and benefits to people regarded as highly dangerous
by the US
Qatada, who was paid compensation under human
rights laws for being “unfairly detained”, is described as “the most successful
recruiter in Europe” and a “focal point for
extremist fundraising [and] recruitment”. Hamza is
accused of encouraging “his followers to murder non-Muslims”.
Four mosques in London and an Islamic centre are highlighted
as places where young Muslim men were radicalised and
turned into potential terrorists. Finsbury
Park mosque “served to facilitate and
training of recruits,” note the files, adding that it was “a haven for Islamic
extremists from Morocco and Algeria.”
The Daily Telegraph, along with
other international newspapers, is publishing details of more than 700 files on
the Guantánamo Bay detainees obtained by the WikiLeaks website.
Earlier, this newspaper disclosed
that dozens of terrorists held at the prison had admitted plotting a wide array
of attacks against targets in Britain
However, it also emerged that more than 150 innocent people had been sent to
Now, the key role that Britain and
British-based preachers played in the lives of many of the Guantánamo detainees
can be disclosed.
British intelligence services
also provided information, including lists of suspected extremists seized from
raids on Islamic centres, to the US military as
it interrogated detainees. The information was passed on despite the Government
publicly condemning the use of torture at Guantánamo. The leaked documents also
• Sixteen detainees sent back to Britain are regarded as “high risk” by the US authorities
and are liable to plan attacks against the West. However, they have been paid a
reported £1 million each in
compensation by the Government. For the first time, details of their alleged
extremist activities, including travelling to Afghanistan to fight against British
troops, are disclosed;
• The US government suspected the BBC of
being a “possible propaganda media network” for al-Qaeda after details of a
phone number at the broadcaster was found in the possession of several
suspected terrorists. The number, which now appears to be disconnected, was
thought to be for an employee of the BBC World Service, which was then funded
by the Foreign Office;
• Terrorist recruits from across Africa and
the Middle East flocked to London
to claim asylum, often after travelling through other European countries;
• British taxpayers’ money was used to
bankroll an Afghan politician who was sent to Guantánamo Bay
after being exposed as an al-Qaeda aide. Mullan Haji Rohullah received more than
£300,000 to destroy his opium crop – but he sold the drugs and kept the money
from the Department for International Development.
• Four of the Guantánamo detainees were
“British intelligence sources” who betrayed their paymasters.
• The last remaining British national at
the prison is an al-Qaeda commander who directed terrorist forces in Tora Bora during the Afghanistan conflict. His family,
who were previously allegedly paid directly by Osama Bin Laden, is thought to
have received compensation from the Government.
The files help to explain American
anger towards the British authorities, who have been regularly accused of
failing to tackle radicalisation in this country.
The top-secret documents show how
Muslim men travelled to European countries such as France, from where they obtained
fake EU passports. They then crossed the channel to take advantage of Britain’s
generous asylum system.
Extremist preachers radicalised the men at London
mosques, showing them videos of atrocities committed against Muslims in Bosnia and Chechnya.
According to one document, Finsbury Park mosque was “a key transit facility for the
movement of North African and other extremists in London
to and from al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan”.
They were flown to Pakistan and Afghanistan at the terrorist group’s
expense, put up in special guesthouses and sent to the training camps. They
were introduced to senior al-Qaeda figures including Bin Laden and taught to
fight and make bombs. Wives were arranged for some terrorists and their
families received generous payments.
The US government condemned the release
of the Wikileaks documents. In a statement, the
Pentagon said: “It is unfortunate that news organisations
have made the decision to publish numerous documents obtained illegally by WikiLeaks concerning the Guantánamo detention facility.
These documents contain classified information about current and former
detainees, and we strongly condemn the leaking of this sensitive information.
releases include Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs)
written by the Department of Defence between 2002 and
early 2009. These DABs were written based on a range
of information available then. Any given DAB illegally obtained and released by
WikiLeaks may or may not represent the current view
of a given detainee.
“The previous and current
administrations have made every effort to act with the utmost care and
diligence in transferring detainees from Guantánamo.”
Barack Obama, the US President, previously made a high-profile
pledge to close the Guantánamo
Bay facility and
prosecute in the criminal courts those alleged to have broken the law.
However, the pledge has now been
largely abandoned and the US
authorities recently announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the most senior
terrorist at the prison and the alleged mastermind behind the September 11
attacks, will be tried at a controversial military tribunal.
Mohammed, who was tortured more
than 100 times, has admitted his involvement in dozens of plots, including
plans to hijack aircraft and crash them into Heathrow airport, Big Ben and
Canary Wharf, and assassination attempts against Pope John Paul II and former
President Bill Clinton. He is among 15 so-called kingpins at the prison who are
unlikely to ever be freed.