March 11, 2005


Al Qaeda Spiritual Leader Released in Britain (John Daniszewski, March 11, 2005, LA Times)

An alleged spiritual leader for Al Qaeda was among eight people released on bail today after years in Belmarsh Prison as a battle raged between Prime Minister Tony Blair and the House of Lords over how Britain can control suspected terrorists.

Blair has been unable to pass a new anti-terror bill that he says is needed to save the British public from Madrid-style terrorist attacks. The former law, under which the eight suspects were detained without trial for up to three years, was ruled illegal by Britain's highest court in December and was due to expire Sunday night.

The prime minister, in repeated appearances around Parliament, accused his opponents of playing politics with the public's safety. He also argued that the unelected House of Lords had no right to defy the elected House of Commons, which has approved the government's version of the legislation.

With the old law running out, a judge allowed the eight suspects out on bail under strict orders that they remain in their homes 12 hours a day, be barred from using their telephones, and wear electronic bracelets that allow their locations to be tracked by police.

The best known of the eight was Abu Qattada, a Syrian Sunni cleric who has been described by U.S. and British officials as a spiritual inspiration to Sept. 11 ringleader Mohamed Atta.

So when we keep their al Qaeda in Guantanamo it's a diplomatic crisis, but they can release the guy who inspired 9-11?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 11, 2005 2:01 PM

Since they've released him, can we hunt him down and take his hide now?

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 11, 2005 2:03 PM

It's hard to get people to wake up to dangers unless they have first-hand evidence of the threat, and even then reality tends to fade quickly among some groups. Blair and the British government should be alert for any pre-election bomb plots, since the terrorists still have the Madrid template in their minds, even if they couldn't pull of a repeat of that act before the U.S. election.

Posted by: John at March 11, 2005 2:22 PM

I would be amazed if al-Qaeda didn't do a bombing in London. The Brits are far more cowardly than the Spaniards.

Posted by: Bart at March 11, 2005 3:12 PM

Upper class twits? Norwegian Blues? Huge tracts of land? What, exactly?

Posted by: ghostcat at March 11, 2005 6:48 PM