LONDON, AP – Britain is ready to act within days against "a number" of people to either deport them or bar them from the country under new anti-terrorism measures aimed at extremists, the government said Wednesday.
Foreigners who "seek to create fear, distrust and division" will no longer be welcome, Home Secretary Charles Clarke said after publishing new criteria he will use to decide who will be targeted.
The measures, adopted in response to last month”s transit bombings, are expected to be directed primarily against radical Islamic clerics and extremists who come to Britain and preach hatred.
The identities of those who could face action was not revealed, but among those who might make the list are firebrand Palestinian cleric Abu Qatada, who has been called Osama bin Laden”s spiritual ambassador in Europe, and Saad al-Faqih, a Saudi who has been accused of providing support to bin Laden”s al-Qaida terror network.
The new criteria covers those who foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence; seek to provoke terrorist acts or crimes; or promote hatred between communities.
"By publishing the list today, I make it absolutely clear that these are unacceptable behaviors, and will be the grounds for deporting and excluding such individuals from the U.K.," Clarke said.
"We have a number of names that we are considering at the moment," he said, noting that action would be taken in some cases "very quickly — within a few days."
Senior Brazilian officials, meanwhile, met with the police watchdog investigating the killing of a Brazilian wrongly identified as a terrorist last month — when London was on high alert.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission”s chairman, Nick Hardwick, said after the meeting he believed his investigators had all the information they needed to conduct their inquiry into Jean Charles de Menezes” killing — including some crucial video from the Tube station where the 27-year-old electrician was shot.
Police fired seven times into Menezes” head at close range after tailing him into a subway car July 22, the day after failed bombing attacks on the British capital”s transit system. Those attacks came exactly two weeks after the July 7 suicide bombings, which killed 52 commuters.
"A Brazilian citizen was killed, and we believe that someone should be considered guilty," said Manoel Gomes Pereira of Brazil”s Foreign Ministry, who came to London as part of the three-member delegation. "This case creates a situation in which the government and the family in Brazil must deserve some answers."
Hardwick appealed for patience to let his team investigate why Menezes was mistaken for a suicide bomber.
"I still don”t know the truth of what happened," Hardwick said. "When I know what happened, I”ll tell the public."
But he said: "I believe that I have all the information that I need" to complete the investigation.
The IPCC has said it would have a report ready by the end of the year, but its publication might be delayed if any criminal or disciplinary proceedings against the officers involved were under way.
Meanwhile, Clarke said the new criteria to expel or ban people from Britain were necessary to meet a "real and significant threat" of terrorism. He won support from opposition parties, but was slammed by members of Britain”s 1.8 million-strong Muslim community and human rights activists.
"The idea that foreign preachers who don”t speak English are radicalizing British youth who speak nothing but English is absurd," said Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission.
Critics also expressed concern about the fate of those deported. Britain won an agreement from Jordan to honor the human rights of anyone deported there. Jordan is seeking the extradition of Qatada, who was convicted in absentia in 1998 and again in 2000 for involvement in a series of explosions and terror plots.
London is seeking similar pledges from other North African and Middle Eastern states, many of which are widely believed to use torture.
Britain needs those pledges because as a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, it cannot expel anyone to a country where the suspect is likely to be tortured.
"Certainly, the human rights of people who are criminals, they have to be looked after," Clarke told ITV television. "But more important in my view are the human rights of the people against whom the criminals commit their acts."
James Welch, legal director of the human rights group, Liberty, said he was concerned by the government”s new attitude. "What has always separated us from terrorists is that we do not torture people or send them to be tortured," he said. "That is the standard we need to maintain."
Before the publication of the new criteria, one of Britain”s most reviled firebrand preachers, Omar Bakri Mohammed, left his London home for Lebanon last month. The government later declared that Bakri, who had lived in London for 20 years, would be barred from returning.
Others who could find themselves targeted are Abu Hamza Al-Masri, an Egyptian-born preacher awaiting trial on charges of encouraging the murder of Jews and non-Muslims; and Mohammed al-Massari, a Saudi dissident who runs a Web site that posts videos of suicide bombings in Israel and Iraq and anti-Western and pro-al-Qaida propaganda.
Separately, London”s Evening Standard reported Wednesday that suspected suicide bomber Hasib Hussain tried to call the other three attackers from his cell phone just before detonating his bomb on a double-decker bus July 7. Citing security sources, the newspaper said that Hussain apparently made the calls after service was suspended on the subway system, forcing him to take bus No. 30.
The other three didn”t answer, and seconds later, Hussain allegedly detonated his bomb on the bus, which The Evening Standard said police now speculate had not been an initial target. Scotland Yard refused to comment.