David Cameron’s government struck a deal with the US to accept Osama Bin Laden’s former spokesman back to the UK after his release from jail, for fear of breaching his rights as a political refugee.
Adel Abdel Bary’s extradition to the US, to be tried for his role in the terror attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224, went ahead only after the UK agreed to take him back as a successful asylum seeker, sources have told The Telegraph.
Bary, 60, an Egyptian national, is due to return to the UK in the coming weeks (if not days) after being freed from a US jail. He cannot be sent back to Egypt because it would breach his human rights due to the risk of being tortured or killed by authorities there.
Reports suggest that Bary will be given a council house and is likely to be put under surveillance.
A source said: “He would not have been extradited to the US in the absence of an undertaking that, as someone with acknowledged refugee status, Britain would be treated as his home country for that reason. Without that there could not have been extradition.”
Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terrorism, said: “It is a matter of real concern that somebody convicted of serious terorism offences is being returned to this country without demur and I would be very interested to see what the Home Secretary and the Attorney General will have to say about this.”
Bary applied for political asylum in the UK in 1991 after fleeing Egypt where he was tortured as an opposition lawyer so severely that he was left with physical scars and mental ill health.
He secured asylum in March 1993 and was granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK in 1997. He brought his wife and three children over to the UK in 1993, and had three more children in this country.
A year after the embassy bombings, in which a further 5,000 people were injured, he was arrested in Britain in 1999 and finally extradited to the US after a lengthy legal battle.
Bary entered a plea bargain in the US in 2015 and was sentenced to 25 years in jail but has now been released after spending 16 years in jail awaiting trial. As part of the plea deal, he admitted three charges, including conspiracy to murder US citizens abroad.
One of his sons, Abdel-Majed Abdel, travelled to Syria to fight for Isis before being arrested in Spain in April this year. A former rapper in London, Abdel-Majed gained notoriety after posing with the severed head of an Assad regime soldier for a mocking social media post.
Abdel-Majed was wrongly thought to be ‘Jihadi John’, the Islamic State executioner until he was later unamsked as Mohammed Emwazi.
Bary’s plea for clemency prior to his 2015 plea deal was supported by Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell less than a year before they became leader of the party and shadow chancellor, respectively. (See below)
Bary was released this month and is thought to be housed in a US immigration detention facility while British authorities put in place measures for his return.
Whitehall sources suggest a risk analysis of the possible threat posed by Bary will be undertaken before he reaches the UK. It is likely that security services will monitor his contacts when he arrives back in the UK.
Bary spent 13 years in UK jails while he fought his extradition to the US including appeals to the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights. He was finally extradited in 2012.
Bary admitted guilt on the basis that he sent faxes claiming responsibility for the bombings which included threats of future attacks, according to court documents.
However, in his submission to the court he said he had never met Osama bin Laden, had received no military training and “always opposed killing or harming innocent civilians based on their nationality, religion or political beliefs.”
However, he was a close friend of Khalid Al-Fawwaz, director of the London chapter of Saudi dissident group, the Advice and Reform Committee (ARC) whose constitution was witnessed by bin Laden. He was sentenced to life in jail in the US for his role in the bombings.
Bary also acted briefly as a lawyer for Ayman Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s successor as leader of Al Qaeda, and provided media services for al-Jihad, a group led by Zawahiri, although his lawyers say he condemned and refused to support its belief in “indiscriminate violence.”
The other point the source highlights is that the overarching context was that it was a time when the US was putting terror suspects into Guantanamo Bay in potential breach of his human rights, and he could not be returned to Egypt where he had been "hideously tortured."
From 1982 until 1991, he was repeatedly arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and released. Electric shocks were administered across his body, including inside his mouth.
He was suspended by his wrists or ankles for long periods of time. He was burned with cigarettes on his lips and nipples. His genitals were electrically shocked, burned and stuck with sharp pencils.