A radical Muslim preacher suspected of being a key al-Qaeda operative in Europe arrived in Jordan today to face retrial on terrorism charges after his deportation from Britain, ending a decade-long legal battle over his fate. The return of 53-year-old Abu Qatada was viewed as a victory in Jordan, whose 2001 extradition request was blocked in British and European courts for more than a decade over human rights concerns. Britain and Jordan ratified a treaty on torture aimed at easing those worries, clearing the way for his deportation.
Jordanian Information Minister Mohammed Momani said the kingdom "is keen on credibility and transparency" in handling Abu Qatada. The deportation of the Palestinian-born Jordanian cleric, Momani said, "sends a message to all fugitives that they will face justice in Jordan." Abu Qatada arrived at Amman's civilian airport on a British aircraft and was whisked in a green SUV, escorted by a 12-car convoy, with masked anti-terrorism police to the nearby premises of the military State Security Court on the outskirts of the Jordanian capital. Abu Qatada's father, Mahmoud, and an unidentified relative stood at the entrance of the court building, but were not allowed to enter.