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By Linda Young
London, United Kingdom
Al-Qaeda has warned Britain against extraditing Islamic radical Abu Qatada to Jordan where he has been convicted in absentia for plotting terrorist attacks in 1998.
Qatada, once considered the right-hand man of slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Europe, will face retrial in Jordan upon his return.
In a statement signed by Al-Qaeda's general command, the terror group said it would not hesitate to attack Britain and its citizens everywhere if London approves Qatada's extradition.
"We warn the British government against extraditing Sheikh Abu Qatada to Jordan," said the statement published on jihadist forums. The group told London to "act with reason and wisdom else regret it."
Britain granted asylum to Qatada in 1994 and arrested him shortly after September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Since then, he had been on remand or on surveillance. Britain has never charged him formally.
In February this year, London released him on bail on condition that he would always wear an electronic tag. He also agreed not to use the Internet or telephone.
Responding to the latest development, Jordan's daily newspaper As-Sabeel on its website disclosed that Qatada recently discussed his conditions to return to the Kingdom with top Salafist leader Abu Mohammad al-Tahawi during a telephone conversation. Tahawi reportedly said that Qatada wanted Jordan to drop all charges against him before his return.
"Abu Qatada added that if he accepts to come back, he does not want to be dealt with as a 'security issue,'" the paper said.
Qatada also demanded written assurance from King Abdullah II that he would get a decent life in the kingdom. Jordan only said that it would give Qatada a "fair and transparent" trial if London deports him.
Qatada's extradition is a contentious issue for Britain because of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. The ECHR has said he cannot be extradited to Jordan because it believes that Jordan gathered the evidence against him by torture.
The European court claims that such an extradition will violate Article Six of the European Convention on Human Rights -- the right to a fair trial.
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