We all have our favourite monsters from childhood. One of mine was Captain Hook from J. M. Barrie’s play Peter Pan. It was a tingly delight to see him brought to life by Dustin Hoffman in the movie Hook. My, look, see that big iron hook in place of his missing hand; that was the stuff of nightmares. Wake up! Monsters don’t exist; they are all in the imagination.
Oh, no, they are not, I retort in my best pantomime style. Childhood fears give way to adult realities. Monsters do exist. They are here, living among us. There are few more monstrous than Abu Hamza al-Masri. Like the fictitious Hook, Hamza has a hook. But the Captain, for all his wickedness, has a certain charm; Hamza has none. He is nothing but a nightmare, unrelieved in any way.
He is in our midst at the moment. He has been for years, presently in prison, fighting deportation to the
United States on terrorism charges. He only has one hand and one eye, though where the missing appendages went is a matter of some dispute. He says that they were lost in Afghanistan, the result of an encounter with a landmine. Others say that the injuries were sustained while he was practicing bomb making.
A supporter of Osama bin-Laden, Hamza was formally an imam at the Finsbury Park Mosque in
London, which under his care became a setting for bile and hate, the message of a lesser God. It was there on the first anniversary of 9/11 that he co-organised a conference praising the hijackers. It was from there that he called for the creation of a caliphate and the destruction of democracy. He was just another vampire, prepared to suck the life from the very system that guaranteed his freedom and his right to speak.
But there are limits to tolerance. In 2004 he was arrested for various offences under the Terrorism Act. He was eventually found guilty of soliciting the murder of non-Muslims and incitement to racial hatred. In sentencing him to seven years imprisonment, Mister Justice Hughes said that he had helped to “create an atmosphere in which to kill has become regarded by some as not only a legitimate course but a moral and religious duty in pursuit of perceived justice.”
The judge went on to say;
No one can say what damage your words may have caused. No one can say how often or widely your preaching was repeated. You are entitled to your views and in this country you are entitled to express them — up to the point where you incite murder or incite racial hatred. You commended suicide bombing, you encouraged them to kill in the cause you set out for them.
For years Hamza represented a clear and present danger, effectively ignored by successive governments, more attuned to ‘human rights’ than to human safety, the safety of the people of this country. No action was taken despite mounting evidence of his involvement in international terrorism.
We want rid of him. The sooner he goes the better. The sooner he is extradited to the
United States, where he is wanted on various terrorist offences, the better. Nothing could be simpler.
Alas, when it comes to European law, ‘simple’ is a word that should never be used. We in
England come under the purview of the European Court of Human Rights, which really should be called the Terrorist Court of Last Resort. People like Hamza know how to play the system. He and his lawyers – it’s a really big earner - have been playing it for years, launching appeal after appeal with Strasbourg.
In Hamlet the Prince muses on the law’s delays. Shakespeare did not know the half of it. The law’s delays? Extradition has now been delayed for five years, the judges previously blocking his removal to the States just in case of… in case of what exactly? Was the fear that he might not get a fair trial, that he might be tortured, that – God forbid – he might be executed? No, none of this; the concern was that the poor creature might not live in the manner to which he had become accustomed; that the American prison system might just be a tad ‘too harsh.’
But at last came the dawn of reason. In April of this year the judges ruled that he, along with other alleged terrorists, could be deported to the States because their facilities are better than our facilities. Hamza – thank goodness- would have access to all of the things that make life worthwhile, like television, a telephone, and arts and crafts.
That’s alright then; off you go Captain Hook. So, why is he still with us? Why? Because – wait for it – another appeal, an appeal beyond the final appeal, has been lodged. His lawyers have now applied for the case to be heard before the
European Court’s Grand Chamber, twenty-four hours before the deadline for his removal had passed. This consists of a panel of five judges, not due to assemble now for at least two months. If they conclude that there is a case it may take another year before they reach a decision. Yes, it is a joke, but I for one am not laughing.
Hamza, of Egyptian birth, has cost this country millions, in welfare payments, in state housing, in health and prison bills, in trials and in appeals. Up until April the legal bill alone amounted to £1.5million, that’s about $2.4million. There are other costs, too, that he has brought to us, costs associated with his wretched family.
The hook-handed, one-eyed imam was in the habit of preaching against the moral laxity and the ‘decadence’ of the West. He would know all about moral laxity and decadence, not from looking at Western society. No, it comes a lot closer to home; it comes to his home. In 2009 three of his sons were imprisoned for fraud involving stolen cars. The following year another son was jailed for violent disorder and yet another for armed robbery. Now, Imran Mostafa, (yes, yes, still another son; will the line go on to the crack of doom?), keeping the family tradition, has been convicted for his part in an armed raid on a jewellery store.
Amongst other things Hamza wanted the introduction of Sharia law in this country, with the strictest of interpretations, I imagine. One handed bandits might then also have become a tradition in his family, like father, like sons. But we, in our decadence, do not descend to barbarism. We just allow barbarians to live among us.