Abu Qatada 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 here.
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 authorities.
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.” [...]
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 reveal that:
• 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 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.[...]
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”....