Haroon Rashid Aswat
|Haroon Rashid Aswat|
|Born||1979 (age 35–36)
Haroon Rashid Aswat (born ca. 1979 in Britain) is a British citizen of South Asian origin with ancestral ethnic roots to Gujarat, born and raised in Yorkshire. American and British officials allege that he has ties to al Qaeda, and have sought his extradition to the United States. After his internment in Broadmoor Hospital in 2008, in 2010 the European Court of Human Rights blocked efforts to extradite Aswat on the basis of concern over the conditions of his potential imprisonment in the United States. This was upheld on 11 September 2013, meaning that he can not be extradited while under treatment for paranoid schizophrenia. He was finally extradited to the U.S. in October 2014, following U.S. assurances as to how he would be treated in custody.
Haroon Rashid Aswat, a British Gujarati Muslim, was born in the UK in 1979 (some sources quote dates as early as 1974), to an South Asian family, and was raised in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire where he and his family socialised primarily with the British Pakistani community.
From 1995 he became associated with Abu Hamza al-Masri and the Finsbury Park Mosque. There, he helped to organise 200 British-based men of Pakistani origin to engage in terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. The group later deployed to Bosnia to join Abdelkader Mokhtari’s new battalion Harkat ul-Ansar, based in Zenica.
In 1999 together with Abu Hamza and American-born convert James Ujaama, the three attempted to buy land in Oregon, United States to build a training camp for young Muslims. During this period Aswat lived in Seattle, Washington for over a month, and it is alleged that he was an MI6 informant.
After the project failed, he began a period of travel around the world. By 2002 he was at a religious school in Lahore, hosted by Mohammed al-Ghabra. In November 2004 he met in Pakistan with the ringleader of the London 7/7 attack, Mohammad Sidique Khan, and accomplice Shehzad Tanweer.
By late 2004/early 2005 Aswat was resident in South Africa. US authorities tried to extradite him with regards the Oregon camp project, but as he was a British Citizen who had committed no crimes in South Africa, the South African authorities refused the extradition request. After the London 7/7 bombings, local South African newspapers reported that Aswat had been living a quiet life there for at least five months. Neighbors and co-workers described Aswat as "a family man" and said that he showed no apparent interest in radical Islamic politics.
Allegations of terrorism
American counter-terrorism officials state that they began investigating Aswat in 2002. In reporting on Oussama Kassir's 2009 trial Oregon Live described Lebanese-born Swedish militant Kassir and Aswat taking a bus from the east coast to Oregon. According to The Sunday Herald, by 1999, Aswat was calling himself a "hit man" for bin Laden.
In the first two weeks following the 7 July 2005 bombings, police sources initially told newspapers that Aswat made some 20 mobile phone calls to two of the suspected bombers just hours before the blasts. On 31 July 2005, following a more thorough forensic analysis of the remains of the bombers' phones, The Times reported that: "British investigators, examining whether telephone calls were made between the London bombers and Aswat before the attacks of 7/7, caution that the calls may have been made to a phone linked to Aswat, rather than the man himself."
The New York Times quoted unnamed security officials that when Aswat's presence was brought to the attention of American authorities, that they wanted to subject him to an extraordinary rendition. The New York Times sources said British officials objected, stating that "He's got U.K. papers, and they said you can't render somebody with U.K. papers."
On 29 July 2005, during an interview on Fox News a former US prosecutor named John Loftus, asserted that Aswat was a double agent, backed by MI6. Loftus claimed that MI6 intervened to protect Aswat while he was trying to evade capture.
Arrest and extradition to the United Kingdom
Having travelled via Pakistan, Aswat was arrested in Zambia on 20 July 2005. He was deported from Zambia to the UK on 7 August 2005 and arrested on his arrival. Following Aswat's capture his family issued a press release, stating that Aswat "has not lived at this house and we have not had contact with him for many years... there is no story that we can provide."
U.S. extradition proceedings
Once Aswat was transferred to the United Kingdom, he was held in detention on a U.S. arrest warrant. American justice officials sought to try Aswat for his alleged role in setting up the Oregon training camp in 1999.
A British judge approved Aswat's extradition on 30 November 2006, discounting the concern Aswat's lawyers expressed that there was "a real risk" Aswat would face inhumane treatment in U.S. custody. But in 2008 he was transferred to Broadmoor Hospital, a high-security psychiatric hospital after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
On 16 April 2013, the European Court of Human Rights decided that Aswat's extradition to the U. S. would violate his right for protection against inhumane treatment, given his mental state. The UK Government appealed to for the case to be reconsidered by the court's Grand Chamber, but on 11 September 2013 that was rejected, making the decision became final that Aswat cannot now be extradited.
- Complete 911 Timeline: Haroon Rashid Aswat
- Richard Woods et al. (31 July 2005). "Tangled web that still leaves worrying loose ends". London: The Times. Retrieved 2007-12-11. mirror
- Dominic Casciani (2010-07-08). "Abu Hamza US extradition halted". BBC News.
Abu Hamza, Mr Ahmad and Mr Ahsan face life sentences and US prosecutors have said that Abu Hamza could be jailed for 100 years. Mr Aswat faces a maximum of 50 years.mirror
- "Haroon Aswat extradition block upheld by European Court". BBC News. 11 September 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
- American Council for Kosovo, Islamic Terror in Kosovo: Special Report 2, October 2005
- Kohlmann, Evan. "Al-Qaeda's Jihad in Europe", p. 62
- "UK blast mastermind sold CDs in Johannesburg". rediff. 2 August 2005. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
Haroon Rashid Aswat, believed to be the mastermind behind the July 7 London bombings that killed 56 people, made his living by selling compact discs in downtown Johannesburg and was known in his neighbourhood as a 'nice family man.'mirror
- "7/7 'Mr Big' seized],". The Sun. 28 July 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-02.
- Liam McDougall (31 July 2005). "Brains behind terror plot may be Brit the security services thought". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 2007-08-04. mirror
- Letta Tayler; Colby Itkowitz (30 July 2005). "Raids nab rest of 4 bombs suspects: Arrests made in London and Rome". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-07-30. mirror
- Letta Tayler (2005-07-22). "London blasts a sober reminder: Bombs misfire, but popping sound of detonators sends lunchtime transit passengers fleeing in panic". Times Union. p. A1. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
Meanwhile, U.S. and British authorities investigating the July 7 attacks searched for information on Haroon Rashid Aswat, a Pakistani man allegedly connected to a foiled plot to create a terrorist training camp in Bly, Ore.mirror
- "Trial record provides account of Oregon jihad camp". Komo News. 2009-10-18. Retrieved 2011-10-01.
In late 1999, Ujaama made a pitch to a London imam, Abu Hamza al-Masri. He promised al-Masri a safe haven, recruits and weapons to transform the desert ranch into a Muslim military training camp, court records said.mirror
- Les Zaitz (2009-10-17). "Terrorist plot unravels at rural Oregon ranch". Oregon Live. Retrieved 2012-04-30.
The events that led to the effort 10 years ago to establish a jihad camp outside Bly have been well-chronicled. But testimony and exhibits from Kassir's trial in New York provide the fullest account to date of what went on behind the gates of the Dog Cry Ranch.mirror
- William K. Rashbaum; Raymond Bonner (30 July 2005). "Suspect in London fatal blasts eluded arrest". International Herald Tribune.
Aswat first came to the attention of the U.S. counterterrorism investigators in 2002 in Seattle. But the authorities there believed he had subsequently been killed fighting U.S. forces in Afghanistan. In the weeks before the London bombings, the South African authorities informed the U.S. authorities in New York that Aswat was living in their country, one of the officials said.mirror
- Zahid Hussain; Daniel McGrory; Sean O'Neill[disambiguation needed] (21 July 2005). "Top al-Qaeda Briton called Tube bombers before attack". London: The Times. Retrieved 2007-07-30. mirror
- Letta Tayler (2005-07-30). "Last 3 of 4 suspects in failed attacks held: Two arrested in London, one in Rome completes tally in failed attacks". Times Union. p. A1. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
Scotland Yard declined to comment on the arrest in Zambia of a British man sought in connection with the July 7 bombings. British investigators reportedly believe Haroon Rashid Aswat, 31, had been in telephone contact with some of the four suicide attackers.mirror
- Michael Meacher (10 September 2005). "Britain now faces its own blowback: Intelligence interests may thwart the July bombings investigation". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-08-10. mirror
- "Bombings mastermind held in Zambia". London: Daily Mail. 29 July 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-02.
- "U.K. Gov't Plans Tough Terror Laws". Fox News. 21 July 2005. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
- Simon Freeman (8 August 2005). "British al-Qaeda suspect facing extradition to US". London: The Times. Retrieved 2007-08-02.
Mr Keith said that Mr Aswat had claimed to have been in a camp in Afghanistan and to have met Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda. He remained at the camp in Bly, Oregon, for a month before going back to Seattle and his whereabouts after that were unknown, Mr Keith said.mirror
- "'Al-Qaida' Briton faces extradition to US". London: The Guardian. 5 January 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-02. mirror
- James Sturcke (11 August 2005). "10 detained over 'threat to national security'". London: The Guardian. mirror
- "British terror suspects lose extradition battle". London: Daily Mail. 30 November 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-02.
- "UK terror suspects lose extradition battle". London: The Guardian. 30 November 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-02. mirror
- "Court halts radical's extradition". Fox News Australia. 2010-07-09. Retrieved 2013-12-11.
The Strasbourg-based court said it wanted to look into the men's concerns over the length of their possible sentences and conditions at the ADX Florence "supermax" prison in Colorado where they were likely to be heldmirror
- Yard plays down bomb arrest reports, Daily Mail, 28 July 2005
- As 3 Nations Consulted, Terror Suspect Eluded Arrest, The New York Times, 28 July 2005
- "CNN BREAKING NEWS: Major Anti-Terror Operation Under Way in West London". CNN. 29 July 2005. Retrieved 2007-08-04.
- Francis Elliott; Sophie Goodchild (2 July 2006). "7/7 one year on: Why did it happen? The big questions still need answers". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2007-08-04.