UK Betrays Gurkhas, but pays £600,000 in legal fees for al-Qaeda terrorists

  • No doubt Abu Qatada  and his disciples will  love us for that. No  doubt they will understand that treating them any other way would “make us just like them”- can’t have that, right? Right??

Francis Elliott and Deborah Haynes/Times

The Government suffered another day of embarrassment at the hands of Joanna Lumley yesterday after it wrote to five Gurkhas refusing them residency.

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The British tax payer has met legal aid fees of nearly £600,000 for three al-Qaeda suspects who have fought a ten-year battle to avoid extradition to the US.


Khalid al-Fawwaz is wanted in connection with the bomb attacks on two US embassies in East Africa in August 1998 Photo: CNN

Lawyers for Khalid al-Fawwaz, a Saudi citizen who alleged acted as Osama bin Laden’s public relations representative in London, received £250,000 in legal fees from the Legal Services Commission according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Al-Fawwaz, is wanted in connection with the bomb attacks on two US embassies in East Africa in August 1998.

The attacks in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania killed 223 people and injured more than 4,000.

British taxpayers also covered nearly £110,000 in legal bills for al-Fawwaz’s co-defendant, Adel Abdel Bary, an Egyptian who was allegedly close to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy leader of al-Qaeda.

Nearly £215,000 was paid in legal costs for a second associate, Ibrahim Eidarous who died of leukaemia in July while under house arrest in London.

Most of the fees were paid in the first three years of their battle, legal sources said yesterday, and most of the costs went to barristers in the case.

The legal battle was lengthened by a six-year wait for a response from the Home Office after the Government lost a case in the House of Lords in December 2001.

The Daily Telegraph reported earlier this year that al-Fawwaz and Bary have now launched a new appeal in the High Court that is likely to prolong the case for several more years.

The total cost, including detaining the men in maximum security prisons, is estimated to have exceeded £1m.

But the attempt to have them extradited has provoked derision across the Atlantic.

The Washington Post reported last week that British justice was working at a “glacial pace” and added: “The cases have plodded through the British bureaucracy with no end in sight, undermining transatlantic cooperation on counter-terrorism and highlighting how easy it can be for international terrorism suspects to elude the reach of US prosecutors.

“Critics say the combination of free lawyers and a Byzantine legal system enables al-Qaeda sympathizers in Britain to file frivolous appeals and avoid deportation or extradition.”

Britain passed a new “fast track” extradition law in 2003 but only one terrorism suspect has been sent to the US since September 2001, Syed Hashmi, a US citizen charged with supplying military equipment to al-Qaeda training camps in Pakistan.

The issue was raised last week at a meeting in London between Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, and Eric Holder, the US Attorney General, who praised the new system.

But he was referring to extraditions for fraud and other cases which have been made under the laws, rather than terrorist offences for which it was designed.

Daniel Coleman, a retired FBI agent who investigated the embassy bombings, accused the British last year of “trying to thumb their nose at us” and added: “They view us as the Belgian Congo. It’s insulting to the United Sates. Our justice system is better than theirs.”

The Home Office attributed a six-year delay between December 2001 and March 2008 to “a range of matters,” including allegations from defence lawyers that the US government might subject their clients to the death penalty, torture, military tribunals or criminal trials that would be inherently unfair.

In his latest appeal, Fawwaz claimed his human rights would be breached if he were sent to an American “supermax” prison and that evidence in US courts was reliant on deals struck with informers.

The case is likely to go back to the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights, which has already been considering another terrorism case, that of Babar Ahmad, accused of running al-Qaeda websites, for two years.

The radical preacher Abu Hamza and his alleged associate Haroon Aswat are also fighting their extradition.


Betrayal of the Gurkha’s:

The actress and campaigner, who a day earlier had emerged from Downing Street to say that she was reassured by Gordon Brown’s promise that he would “do the right thing” by the soldiers, said that she had been shocked at the letters of rejection.

To make matters worse, she claimed Downing Street did not know about the letters sent by the Home Office.

In scenes of extraordinary political pantomime, Ms Lumley revealed the Government’s desperate attempts to prevent her making her anger public. She then held impromptu talks with Phil Woolas, the Immigration Minister, after an encounter in a TV studio.

Chris Huhne, of the Liberal Democrats, said: “At worst this was a betrayal of the Gurkhas, at best a monumental shambles in Government.” David Cameron, the Conservative leader, urged Mr Brown to “get a grip”.

After the row erupted, Ms Lumley was telephoned by Downing Street saying it had “just heard” about the letters. Only a private last-minute meeting between the Absolutely Fabulous actress and Mr Woolas defused the matter when he told her that the cases would be re-examined.

“It seems the Prime Minister didn’t know about this and I think he was very anxious because it is exactly in contradiction to what he was talking about yesterday,” she said.

In a timely intervention, the minister “bumped” into Ms Lumley before she spoke to reporters. They held a hurried meeting in which he said that the Government remained committed to the Gurkha review. He said the letters were not a formal rejection but merely part of a legal process and each case would be reviewed. “We have 1,500 appeals against refusals that we are considering,” he said. “We have granted over 100 of those cases since last week. By the end of this month we will work through those 1,500 cases.”

The minister’s comments failed to satisfy all the campaigners who last week helped to push the Government to a defeat in the Commons. “We take comfort but we have taken comfort before, again and again,” said one of the lawyers who has been representing the Gurkhas.

Gyandendra Rai was one of those who received a rejection letter. He served for 13½ years, including time in the Falklands, where he was badly injured by shrapnel.

Ms Lumley said: “For all the minister’s kind words of reassurance . . . I think there is so little to be reviewed, so little to be looked at — except that all these men, all these applications, should be received with open arms. There are only 1,500, minister. Shall we wave them in?”

One thought on “UK Betrays Gurkhas, but pays £600,000 in legal fees for al-Qaeda terrorists”

  1. Once again. people in the UK have to write to NullLabor to force them to stop financing these islamic scum!! Give me a Ghurka any day – hard working, honest and courageous. Compare that to your typical islamist – scheming, dishonest and cowardly.

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