MI5 blamed of delaying Hamza trial
France had passed intelligence about him to Britian but MI5 failed to act until 2003, reports Vijay Dutt.Updated: Feb 09, 2006 20:14 IST
The link between the radical cleric Abu Hamza, who has been sentenced to seven-year imprisonment on charges of abetting terrorism and inciting religious hatred with the July 7 London suicide bombers, is being more thoroughly probed by the Intelligence and Security Committee.
The inquiry, which started on Wednesday, will investigate claims that the bombers slipped through the net of MI5 and Special Branch police. It will also cover allegations that at least two of the bombers had connections to Abu Hamza's Finsbury Park mosque.
Meanwhile a row has erupted over the failure of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to prosecute Abu Hamza, amid calls for a judicial inquiry to be carried out. Scotland Yard and the CPS denied that they were at loggerheads.
The Intelligence and Security Committee, which reports direct to the Prime Minister, is set to investigate whether MI5 was responsible for avoiding charges being made against Hamza because they were keeping other terror suspects under surveillance at the mosque.
French intelligence sources were reported on Wednesday to have complained that they passed intelligence about Abu Hamza to the British authorities but MI5 failed to act until 2003 when the mosque was raided.
The former Home Secretary David Blunkett may be called to give evidence in secret about how much he was told about Hamza's involvement in terrorism by the intelligence services.
The committee is to report in the summer but there is a growing lack of confidence in its willingness to open the intelligence services to criticism.
David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, called on Wednesday for a judicial inquiry into the failure of the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute Hamza at an earlier stage. "We do not have an insufficiency of law," said Davis. "We have insufficient resolution to use the law. There should be an independent inquiry by a judge into the failure to prosecute Hamza and it should cover the role played by MI5."
Hamza was under surveillance for 10 years. He was arrested in the UK in 1999 over his links to a terrorist hostage-taking in Yemen. Hamza admitted taking a satellite telephone call from the hostage-takers, including his son, but the authorities decided there was insufficient evidence to charge him.
The US authorities were alerted by British intelligence about an attempt by associates of Hamza to use a farm in Oregon in 1999 as a training camp after MI5 intercepted a fax sent to London.
In his Old Bailey trial, Hamza claimed he was assured by MI5 handlers: "You have freedom of speech. You don't have anything to worry about as long as we don't see blood on the streets."
First Published: Feb 09, 2006 20:14 IST