Qatada denies al Qaida terror plots
Abu Qatada has denied plotting al Qaida-inspired terror attacks at a court in Jordan after a near-decade long battle to deport the radical cleric finally saw him board a plane out of Britain.
Under cover of darkness, the 53-year-old, dressed in robes and headscarf, was escorted by Scotland Yard police officers on to a private flight from RAF Northolt, in west London, in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Upon arriving in the blistering Jordanian heat, the father-of-five was taken by masked anti-terror police to a military court on the outskirts of the capital Amman where he has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to carry out terror attacks in 1999 and 2000.
Charges faced by Qatada cover a foiled plot against the American school in Amman and an alleged attack on Israeli and American tourists during new year celebrations.
His departure has triggered a wave of relief throughout Westminster as the controversial preacher could have challenged his removal once again at any minute.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: "This is something this Government said it would get done and we have got it done, and it is an issue that like the rest of the country has made my blood boil that this man who has no right to be in our country, who is a threat to our country and that it took so long and was so difficult to deport him, but we have done it, he is back in Jordan, and that is excellent news."
Home Secretary Theresa May added: "I am glad that this government's determination to see him on a plane has been vindicated and that we have at last achieved what previous governments, Parliament and the British public have long called for. This dangerous man has now been removed from our shores to face the courts in his own country."
Following numerous courtroom battles, it was a treaty signed between the UK and Jordan that finally secured Qatada's departure, giving the radical preacher the assurances he needed to leave his taxpayer-funded home behind.
Now in Jordan, his lawyer Tayseer Thiab told reporters his client "told military prosecutors that he is not guilty of terrorism and rejected the charges against him".
A military prosecutor said he will be detained for 15 days pending further questioning at Muwaqar I, a prison in Amman's southeastern industrial suburb of Sahab. However Mr Thiab is understood to be preparing a bail application for as early as Monday.