London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Jordanian Islamist Abu Qatada, who was recently released from the Long Lartin Prison in northern England, is banned from contacting 20 Islamists in Europe most of whom are held in British jails, Asharq Al-Awsat can reveal. Most of the Islamists Abu Qatada is banned from contacting are of Algerian descent and are currently in British jails, while one individual is held in France and another in the Czech Republic.
Abu Qatada who the British Home Office claims is the spiritual leader of Al Qaeda in Europe is banned from contacting Abu Hamza al-Masri who is serving a jail term in the high-security Belmarsh Prison. Recently, Al-Masri lost an appeal against a verdict to extradite him to the United States to face charges dating back to 2000. Abu Hamza al-Masri is a British national of Egyptian origin currently serving a seven-year jail sentence in Belmarsh Prison, southwest London. He was convicted in February 2006 of incitement to killing, hatred, and racism.
Asharq Al-Awsat saw Abu Qatada by sheer coincidence on his daily walk in West London between 2pm and 3pm. The controversial Islamist, who was carrying shopping bags from a store near his home, appeared to have lost a significant amount of weight, while his beard appeared to be greying.
The British Home Office set 20 conditions to release him under house-arrest restrictions. The conditions for the release of Abu Qatada include a ban on contacting Osama Bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Islamists based in London described these conditions as “obstructionist”, while others said they are “unreasonable.”
Under these restrictions, Abu Qatada is prevented from sitting in the garden of his home and is allowed to leave his home only for two hours a day to go to limited places using a route defined by the police in advance. No more than one lawyer is allowed to visit his home at one time. He is banned from publishing any book or article without approval from the British Home Office. Abu Qatada cannot object to these conditions.
Abu Qatada, who is also convicted in Jordan of carrying out terrorist activities, is banned from going to any mosque, leading prayers and delivering lectures in any mosque, giving religious guidance, and issuing fatwas [Islamic religious rulings] to any person, except his wife and children. Also, Abu Qatada is prohibited from making any kind of contact with specific persons, including leader of the Al Qaeda organization Osama Bin Laden and his right-hand man, Ayman al Zawahiri. Abu Qatada denied that he supported terrorism and claimed that he will not receive a fair trial if he goes back to Jordan.
The British Home Office also set a condition that no Internet and cell phone can enter the London home of Abu Qatada. Moreover, he is banned from publishing any book or article without permission and banned from giving speeches and lectures and attending seminars. Also, he is not allowed to answer any question or issue any fatwa. No person above the age of 10 is allowed to visit his home. Abu Qatada is allowed to leave his home for two hours only, one hour in the morning and one in the evening. In a telephone conversation with Asharq Al-Awsat, a spokeswoman for the British Home Office refused to comment on the conditions for the release of Abu Qatada. She said the Home Office does not comment on individual cases.