Thursday, February 09, 2006

FROM MR LOVERMAN TO PREACHERMAN

Britain's most popular tabloid The Sun carried an unexpected headline yesterday:
HOOK AND A HOOKER
  • Cleric cheated on wife with whore

  • He told trial 'brothels are targets'
It would seem this was before his conversion to hardline Islamism, so charges of hypocrisy over this may not apply. Full marks to the Sun for trying to turn an historic legal victory over one the most dangerous men in Britain iinto yet another sex scandal. Perhaps they thought Hamza was running in the LibDem leadership election?

Sensationalism aside, yesterday's Times had an interesting interview with his first wife, Valerie Fleming, who charts his metamorphosis from romantic ladies-man to hate-filled preacher:
According to Valerie Fleming, the former wife of Abu Hamza, the man she met and later married changed in just four years from a romantic, gentle, 22-year-old Westernised student who was constantly being courted by girls, into a deeply religious fanatic.

It also seems that it may have been Fleming, a young single mother when she first kissed Abu Hamza in the West London hostel where he worked, who was responsible for his decision to dedicate his life to Islam.

Fleming had given him an ultimatum about his flirting, she says, insisting that it must stop or she would leave him. His response was to say that he would try to change and would follow Islam rigorously.
Ouch. She really didn't do too well out of this marriage.

Not only did Hamza spirit their three year old son off to Egypt without her permission, but the next she heard of him was the media reporting his trial in Yemen on charges of terrorism.

Abu Hamza's associates haven't been the most supportive either:
The spectre of Hamza has continued to hang over Mrs Fleming. She is aware that some people still identify her with him; she received death threats in a telephone call from one supporter of Hamza in 2003 warning that if she spoke out against the cleric, she would be murdered.

“The caller warned me that if I spoke out against that man, I will be killed, as will my family. It was after I was quoted in a newspaper saying that I wouldn’t mind if he was deported,” she says.
Nice.

Of course, Hamza's ex-wife isn't the only one to have suffered as a consequence of Hamza's militant Islamism. From today's Times:
The US indictment against Abu Hamza alleges that he bought and supplied a £2,000 satellite phone for the [Yemen] kidnappers and purchased £500 worth of air time for the device. It also states that Abu Hamza received telephone calls from the gang leader before and during the kidnap drama in which four hostages were shot dead. He is also charged with sending recruits to al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and trying to train terrorists in America.

British detectives are still investigating Abu Hamza’s alleged links with other terrorist incidents including the July 7 London bombings.
It's a shame that British authorities thought him a harmless idiot for so long. From the same article:
Last night David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary, suggested that the police, MI5 and the CPS could have acted earlier to seize the cleric. He claimed that they rejected his warnings because they feared it would trigger a race crisis.

Writing in The Sun, Mr Blunkett said: “So much for those in the security services who told me when I was Home Secretary that I was exaggerating the threat and the closure of the Finsbury Park mosque where he preached his evil message would be a ‘massive overreaction’.

“There was a deep reluctance to act on the information coming out of Abu Hamza’s own mouth. And some in the police and security services did not want to believe how serious it all was.”
The question remains as to why action wasn't taken against Hamza sooner:
Last night David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary, suggested that the police, MI5 and the CPS could have acted earlier to seize the cleric. He claimed that they rejected his warnings because they feared it would trigger a race crisis.

...

Mr Blunkett is understood to have told the police, security chiefs and the CPS that they would have political backing if they raided the mosque and arrested Abu Hamza. The revelation that Britain had detailed evidence alleging Abu Hamza’s direct involvement in terrorist kidnapping and murder, but was prevented from using it, will reignite the debate on intercept evidence. The Times has also been told that Mr Blunkett argued strongly for such evidence to be used in serious cases but was again rebuffed by the security services.

Michael Howard, the former Conservative Home Secretary, also told The Times last night that he backed the use of intercept evidence.

A senior counterterrorist source told The Times that the phone taps strongly suggested that Abu Hamza was “involved in operational terrorist activity”.

But when Britain tried to move against the cleric in the spring of 1999 the case had to be abandoned because the evidence was deemed “inadmissible”. The FBI stepped in and said that if Britain could not use the material, it would.
With what sounds like further damning evidence against him, I don't fancy his chances should he be extradited to the US.

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