John Halewood-Dodd column

John Halewood Dodd.
John Halewood Dodd.

The trial, and subsequent conviction, of Abu Hamza of 11 charges relating to terrorism has been applauded by many in this country.

He was convicted by a Manhattan court following a month long trial in respect of terrorism offences in both the United States and Afghanistan amidst protestations from his defence team that he could never receive a fair trial.

Certainly, the venue for the hearing seems to have been symbolic as the court in Manhattan was no more than a stones throw away from Ground Zero, the sight of America’s worst ever terrorist attack.

An attack that was carried out by Islamic fundamentalists, of the type that Hamza was found guilty of training.

He also didn’t help himself as he decided to give evidence at his trial, which was reportedly against the advice of his legal team.

During that evidence, and with the horrific memories of 9-11 still lingering with many New Yorkers, he said that he had an “obligation” to love Osama Bin Laden.

What causes me the most concern in this case is the role of the British authorities.

In 2006 Hamza was convicted of inciting murder and stirring up racial hatred in this country and sentenced to six years imprisonment.

Clearly, he would have been under the surveillance of British Intelligence following that, if not well before.

Indeed, his defence team argued that they had fifty pages of documents confirming that he had been working with British Intelligence and had been offering them information.

The Judge ruled that this evidence should not be placed before the jury.

I also question the whole debacle of his extradition from this country, which eventually took place in October 2012.

The cost of the elongated, drawn out process to the tax payer was extensive.

Why then was it necessary for his trial to take place in America given that we have a legal system that we are forever reminded is the envy of the world?

This is a question that may never be answered but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that these decisions were politically motivated.