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Thorn in Britain's side, radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada, finally gone

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By The Los Angeles Times
Sunday, July 7, 2013, 7:48 p.m.

LONDON — Britain's long-running attempts to deport a radical Muslim preacher described as a key al-Qaida supporter ended on Sunday when the the 53-year-old was flown to Jordan on terrorism charges.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he was absolutely “delighted” that Abu Qatada had finally been removed, saying the radical preacher's continued presence in Britain had made his “blood boil.”

Abu Qatada was first arrested in Britain over alleged terror connections in 2001 and has fought deportation since 2005 by appealing to European human rights courts.

Abu Qatada's arrival in his native Jordan brought to an end years of frustration in Britain, whose repeated attempts to send him back to his home country were blocked by the European courts. His deportation was approved only because Britain and Jordan signed a treaty to guarantee that evidence obtained under torture would not be used in his trial.

Abu Qatada was escorted from the London prison where he has spent most of the past eight years to an air force base for his transfer to Jordan. He arrived in Amman, the Jordanian capital, later Sunday morning and was immediately taken to a high-security prison.

British Home Secretary Theresa May said she was glad that the government's determination to remove him had been “vindicated. This dangerous man has now been removed from our shores to face the courts in his own country,” she said.

She said she wants to streamline such deportation processes in future.

“I am also clear that we need to make sense of our human rights laws and remove the many layers of appeals available to foreign nationals we want to deport,” May said.

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