EVENING STANDARD Reda Hassaine is the man who put Abu Qatada behind bars. In the late Nineties, Hassaine, was recruited by MI5 to spy on Qatada and his Islamic fundamentalist followers. The evidence Hassaine gathered confirmed the security services' suspicion that Qatada was Osama bin Laden's ambassador in Britain and the dossier he helped collate formed the case on which Qatada was held under anti-terrorism laws. THE TIMES
DEATH threats have been made against an Algerian journalist who may be called as a witness against Abu Hamza, Belmarsh magistrates were told. The cleric has identified Reda Hassaine, who passed information about his activities to the British and French secret services, as a “legitimate target” because he spied on fellow Muslims. James Lewis, QC, said Abu Hamza had been asked by a Canadian interviewer if it was allowed to kill such a person. He replied: “It is OK to kill them by slitting their throats or by shooting them, any way you can deter them or others from doing such a thing.” District Judge Timothy Workman said that after hearing of the death threats he was satisfied that witnesses could be in danger if the cleric were freed on bail. Mr Hassaine, 42, posed as a follower of Abu Hamza at Finsbury Park mosque, North London, from 1996 to 2000. Speaking outside the court, he told The Times that he had contacted FBI agents investigating Abu Hamza and was prepared to give evidence against him in the US courts.
Reda Hassaine fancies himself a spy. Like the terrorists who struck at theWorld Trade Center and the Pentagon, he has been undercover for half a decade, living a nondescript and outwardly unremarkable life, except perhaps in his own imagination. Rather than perpetrate terror, however, he dreams of stopping it.
Warnings of a growing Islamic militancy in Britain have been issued for years - and have gone unheeded by the British government, said Reda Hassaine, 42, who says he worked for Algerian, French, and British intelligence services from 1994 to 2000, operating in the underworld around several London mosques where Islamic militancy has flourished.
THE SUNDAY TIMES Leppard said that Hassaine even offered to wear a small camera and recording device while he was inside the mosque talking to Hamza and fellow militants. “They [MI5] told me not to bother, that they weren't interested.” It puts the spotlight on the Finsbury Park mosque in north London where Hamza preached. And it talks to Reda Hassaine — the Algerian who started worshiping there in 1996, later becoming an undercover agent for MI5.
THE DAILY MAIL
Former MI5 spy and Muslim Reda Hassaine told the Mail this week: 'Everything that is said in the mosques of the Islamic countries is being said in British mosques, too. Why not?
The religious clerics who come to Britain will not change their views because they now preach here.' The Algerian has worked undercover in this country's mosques for seven years, including the infamous Finsbury Park Mosque in North London.
He was one of the earliest to warn the British intelligence services of the 'enemy within' - Islamic clerics who are systematically brainwashing young Muslims into hating their country.
Britain's plans to release a leading Islamic insurgent with ties to Al Qaida after a court ruled anti-terror laws violated human rights. Algerian officials said the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair plans to free Abu Qatada after nearly four years in prison. Abu Qatada is regarded as being aligned with Al Qaida. Officials said Abu Qatada was suspected of being Osama Bin Laden's envoy in Britain during the 1990s.
The planned release of Abu Qatada has alarmed Algerians in Britain as well as in Europe. This has included Reda Hassaine, cited as an MI5 agent who infiltrated Abu Qatada's group in the late 1990s, Middle East Newsline reported. WEEKLY STANDARD We are being harmed by political correctness and CYA practices (cover your ass), as well as the useful fools demonstrating constantly to comfort and aid Saddam Hussein. There should be a new national or international medal or other award honoring heroes like Hassaine and others who demonstrate courage in the war against terror.
SYDNEY HERALD MORNING
Hassaine estimates that 80 percent of its worshippers don't subscribe to Abu Hamza's violent teachings but listen anyway because he's entertaining. The remaining 20 percent are the hard core — the mujahedeen, Hassaine says. A group of 20 or more live in the basement and call themselves “security.” They pass around their own collection plate on Fridays and at night teach martial arts.
Some of them are members of the GIA. “At nighttime, they sit in small groups,” Hassaine says. “One in the group will talk about his heroic things in Algeria ... 'I killed and I slit his throat and I cut his willy ... ' They were all laughing. The people who killed are like heroes for the new recruits.” The mujahedeen also traffic in fake IDs, he says.
People use them to apply for government or jobs. He has his own fake ID that he bought at the mosque. Hassaine earned the trust of the mosque regulars by hanging out at the coffee shops. He reported back each day to agents at the MI5, Britain's version of the CIA. THE NEW YORK SUN When Reda Hassaine, an Algerian journalist, warned MI5 about the radical Finsbury Park mosque preparing young men for jihad, he was told that “we are giving these people a roof over their heads, food, free health care. THE OBESERVER Hassaine was a spy. Hassaine has now agreed to tell The Observer his story. In a series of lengthy interviews last week - and in an 11-page statement - he gave one of the most detailed descriptions of the shadowy world of the security services and their operations in Britain.
SEATTLEPOST INTELLIGENCER A British intelligence operative who infiltrated a London mosque to keep an eye on a noted Muslim radical confirmed that two men with links to al Qaida scouted out a remote Oregon ranch in 1999 as a possible site for a terrorist training camp inside the States.
Reda Hassaine said in the Tuesday edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that the two men who toured the Bly, Ore., ranch worked for Abu Hamza, a London radical who preached at the mosque and is wanted in Yemen for having ties to terrorists. For me personally, it is sure that they belong to a terrorist network,” Hassaine told the newspaper in a telephone interview from London. “There is no doubt ... they were completely linked to al Qaida and what was going on in Afghanistan.”
Hassaine, a native of Algeria, monitored the goings on at Hamza's mosque for Britain's MI5 intelligence agency and said the two Egyptians, whose names were not revealed, had come to Great Britain in 1998 straight from one of the notorious terrorist training camps established in Afghanistan by Osama bin Laden's network.
BBC NEWS Of course few people at the time could have conceived that suicide bombers would be home-grown. Reda Hassaine was the exception and many people thought he was a scaremonger as a result. Reda had been passing information to the security services about the goings on at Finsbury Park Mosque since the late 1990s when Algerian extremists first started turning up there. He told me in 2001 that Abu Hamza had been brainwashing young men, in particular many who had come out of prison and were deeply alienated from society, to plan jihadi actions against the Khaffur (non-believers) wherever they may be found. Reda firmly believed that part of the methodology of the Finsbury Park extremists was to create as many terror cells as possible. These cells of a few men would ultimately work in a “freelance” capacity to hurt the “enemies of Islam”.
CBC / TV5 The Finsbury Park Mosque in London has long been identified as a key recruiting ground for terrorists. Many young men recruited there ended up in the Afghanistan training camps of Osama Bin Laden. Journalist Reda Hassaine went undercover to find out about terrorist activities in Britain.
For 8 years, from 1994 to 2002, Al Qaeda's chief recruiter in Europe, Abu Qatada, was allowed to live undisturbed in West London. Now he's in Belmarsh prison. But many of the hundreds of recruits he sent to training camps in Afghanistan remain at large.
Réda Hassaïne was one of the very few agents western intelligence had who was close to Abu Qatada and knew what he was up to. “A very, very dangerous man,” he says. “Abu Qatada was using them, was using the secret services. Because they were giving him cover.” If the secret services really did do a deal with Abu Qatada, it could have been disastrous.
An intriguing new series exploring the labyrinthine world of espionage begins with this look at the role of the spy in our panic-stricken times. It offers a rare insight into how Britain's internal security service, MI5, and MI6, home to the real James Bond, operate.
The Algerian journalist Reda Hassaine explains how he inflitrated the Finsbury Park mosque with links to al-Qaeda. ABC
Hassaine finds Britain's inability to extradite Abu Qatada and others outrageous.“For me there is no difference between him and Osama bin Laden,” says Hassaine. “What (bin Laden) is doing is recruiting people, turning them and send them to do jihad which is the same case for Abu Qatada. He (has) all kinds of things which he should be put in prison (for) and be put in the international court of the Hague, the same as Slobodan Milosevic and many other people.” ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Exasperated by Britain's failure to silence the Islamic preacher of hate, France considered drastic measures to protect itself from a terror attack, suggests The Suicide Factory “PERHAPS we could snatch him off the street, kidnap him, take him to Paris and deal with him properly there.”
The remark stopped the conversation across the lunch table just as if a waiter had dropped a glass, smashed a plate or thrown water in a customer's face. Reda Hassaine peered through the fug of his own cigarette smoke at his French paymaster, trying to gauge how serious the suggestion had been.
The silence remained unbroken, the word “kidnap” hanging in the air between them. Hassaine did not know what to say. His job was to move quietly, unobtrusively inside the mosque, to write reports, to feed information back to Jérôme, the man with whom he was now lunching. No one had said anything about snatching Abu Hamza off the streets of London.
Jérôme, the immaculate “diplomat” from the French embassy, smiled at his companion's discomfort. “Something has to be done. Chevènement says he cannot sleep on Thursday nights wondering what threat is going to emerge from the London Algerians the next morning or what Abu Hamza is going to say in his Friday sermon. Paris is very anxious that they will threaten France again.” Jean Pierre Chevènement, France's Minister of the Interior, had one worry in particular. It was March 1998. In a few months the football World Cup was to be held in France, and it was a huge security headache. Algerian terrorists of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) had bombed the Paris Métro in 1995 and the architects of that atrocity— regarded in France as a deadly enemy — were still on the loose, living untroubled lives in London. The World Cup offered them an opportunity, and there were whispers in the intelligence world that something was being planned. It might take only a word from their spiritual guide Abu Hamza, an article in his newsletter, or a line in a communiqué pinned to the Finsbury Park mosque notice board to set the wheels in motion.
Friday was consequently the busiest day of the week for Hassaine, a former journalist and fledgling spy. On Fridays it was imperative that he heard Abu Hamza preach, made a mental note of any proclamations on the board and picked up a copy of the newsletter. France was on edge. Such was her anxiety about the World Cup that she demanded co-operation from her European neighbours.
Where she deemed that collaboration was lacking, or less than enthusiastic, she was sending teams of agents abroad to gather intelligence on Islamist militants. Hassaine was part of the team in London, recruited by France's DGSE intelligence service, to be a spy inside Finsbury Park's Algerian community and its mosque.
Hassaine had fled Algeria after the GIA killed some of his closest friends and threatened his life. He was motivated by anger and a burning need to see justice done. Although he was married with a young son, and the entire enterprise made him feel nervous and unsafe, some sense of righteous purpose carried him on, recklessly risking his safety.
He had been working for the man he knew as Jérôme for several months when the idea of kidnapping Abu Hamza was lobbed like a grenade into a long lunch at the Bangkok Brasserie, a basement Thai restaurant that was one of their regular haunts. This was, the Frenchman said, “the ideal place” for their meetings.
Located in London's clubland, the traditional haunt of spies, it was below street level, hidden from view on the corner of St James's Street and Piccadilly. No one could see in from the street. Jérôme insisted that he and Hassaine always arrived for lunch at 12.30 pm to ensure that they got the table in the far corner, from where he could see everyone who came and left. Hassaine finally ended the silence. He leaned across the table, and spoke nervously.
“How would we do it?” he asked, fervently hoping that there would be no “we”, that this was something he would not have to be involved in. “It would have to be a French ferry,” said Jérôme. “Once we got one of his feet on board that would be it. No coming back.” Hassaine might be asked to give a signal, act as a lookout, or create some sort of distraction at the mosque, but the kidnapping would be left to the professionals.
Unknown to Hassaine, there were a number of undercover French agents operating in London, and a team of assassins from Draco, a DGSE unit, had been placed on standby to take out individuals regarded as senior terrorists. Another DGSE surveillance team was watching the mosque. Again, the agents had been told that the purpose of their mission was to prevent any attack on the World Cup.
The problem hampering all the plans – assassinations or kidnappings – was the attitude of the British authorities. Over lunch, Jérôme made it clear to Hassaine that while his contacts in the undercover worlds of MI5 and MI6 might be prepared to turn a blind eye to such an operation, there was unlikely to be any such help from the regular police.
“We might get some help from the British,” he said, “but we will not get any help from the British law.” He had himself been witness to the tension between the British and the French over his activities when he attended Scotland Yard after one summons. The call from the Special Branch officer emphasised that this was not a British police matter.
Abu Hamza said: “They called me and said, 'Would you like to come to Scotland Yard, it's not about us or anything we are doing'. They said the French police wanted to speak to me. They told me I was a British citizen and I didn't have to answer if I didn't want to.” Abu Hamza, who was offering the pretence of co-operation with the authorities because it seemed to allow him complete freedom to carry on as he pleased, decided to attend.
At Scotland Yard he was taken to a room where two French detectives were waiting. A Scotland Yard detective sat in on the meeting, acting almost as Abu Hamza's protector. The French wanted information and showed Abu Hamza pictures of members of the Roubaix gang. He said he knew nothing.
“The main Frenchman was really upset and angry, he showed on his face he was angry,” he said. “But the Englishman was very easy about it all, he said I didn't have to answer. At the end of the meeting he walked with me back to my car, he was smiling and chatting and everything.”
To French eyes, the British were protecting Abu Hamza and other dangerous men in the mosque. After a few glasses of wine during lunch, Jérôme would often express his anger, and refer to the British capital – as many in France did – as “Londonistan”. Hassaine said: “Jérôme would complain that Scotland Yard was sympathetic to Abu Hamza. They would say, 'They are doing nothing wrong, we cannot arrest them for anything'. “But the French believed that this plot to attack the World Cup was real, that it was being drawn up in London and that Finsbury Park mosque was the capital of Londonistan. The names of many suspects were passed to the British – veteran terrorists arriving from around the world – but the British did nothing.
They did not take it seriously, even when the French said that if anything were to happen they would declare publicly that they held the British responsible.” The extent of the World Cup plot has never been revealed. Some sources say that the key operation was to have been an attempt to assassinate the members of the USA team in their hotel as they watched the game between England and Tunisia on television. Others feared a bombing campaign. Ultimately, however, the greatest problem for French police was the England fans. As France's team lifted the trophy and sparked nationwide celebrations, the World Cup plot was best forgotten rather than trumpeted as an anti-terrorist victory. It was a happy moment too for Hassaine, watching from his flat in north London as Zinedine Zidane, his fellow countryman who was playing for France, emerged as the star player of the tournament
*Extracted from The Suicide Factory
THE MAKING; the 7/7 Bombings Shook Britain. But Should We Have Been Surprised? A New Book Reveals How for Years - despite Warnings - Politicians Have Been Happy to Let Islamic Fundamentalism Thrive Here. It Has Amounted, the Author Says, to an Act of Cultural Suicide. After the London bombings last year, ministers were appalled by how little the security service knew. Yet MI5 had known since at least the late 1990s that some British Muslims were becoming radicalised and recruited for the jihad, or holy war - and with British targets included in their sights.
POLITICIANS were looking for political solutions to issues such as Palestine; this was what was in the air at the time, and the intelligence world would take its cue from that.' Reda Hassaine is an Algerian journalist who, between 1999 and 2000, gave MI5 information about the Islamist radicalisation he observed taking place at the Finsbury Park mosque in North London.
He was astonished to find that his warnings were being ignored. 'My contacts said: “We are giving these people a roof over their heads, food, free health care - and the security of Britain will be very safe. We don't care what is going on outside this country.”' The British, he said, had a problem understanding the culture of the Arabs. 'I told them, you don't understand this kind of threat.
One day they may attack you as unbelievers. They said, we don't think they will do it here. This is a special place. I told them Britons were going to fight, but they never thought they would fight their own country.' British officials privately admit that such a bargain did form part of their calculations. The Islamists were being left undisturbed on the assumption that they would not attack Britain.
This bargain, or 'covenant of security', had been the dirty little secret at the heart of the British government's blind-eye policy. As long as there was no threat to Britain, the government and security establishment just didn't want to know. They kept an eye on the radicals, but only to make sure that English law wasn't being broken.
* EXTRACTED from Londonistan by Melanie Phillips, published by Gibson Square Books