A London-based Islamic cleric Wednesday denied allegations that he was Osama bin Laden’s European ambassador, according to the Kuwaiti official news agency (KUNA), quoting press reports.
Abu Qatada, who was jailed for life in absentia for bombings in Jordan, has been connected with at least nine al Qaeda agents across Europe in recent months.
A total of 18 videos made by Abu Qatada, whose real name is Omar Mahmoud, were found in a Hamburg flat used by Mohammad Atta, the alleged ringleader of the September 11 hijackers, The Times newspaper said.
But Abu Qatada appeared mystified at the allegations against him Wednesday, said the agency.
Speaking through an interpreter at his home in Acton, west London, he told the British media that he is “just a cleric for Islam. People talk to me from all over the world. My phone number is world-wide spread, people call me all the time about Islamic matters.”
But according to Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, Abu Qatada was connected with a Madrid-based cleric who has been charged with helping to plan the US attacks. Imad Eddin Barakac Yarkas is accused of plotting the US attacks with Mohammad Atta.
Abu Qatada said he could not recall having met Yarkas when he was shown a picture of him.
I meet all kinds of people. I can't remember everyone. I don't know who this is,” he said.
Abu Qatada also denied meeting any of the September 11 hijackers or Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect who is being hunted by US and opposition forces in Afghanistan.
The cleric dismissed judge Garzon's accusations, saying that Spanish law was not very good.”
He also criticized British Home Secretary David Blunkett's anti-terrorism bill as a “law against law” and said it would destroy civil liberties. Abu Qatada said he did not fear being interned under the legislation and insisted he was prepared to stand up and face his accusers in court.
The cleric, who was known in Jordan as a pillar of the strict salafi school of Islamic jurisprudence, obtained a political asylum in the UK, thus evading the sentence against him back home -- Albawaba.com
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