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Bin Laden’s former spokesman bound for Britain after US release

Osama bin Laden sits with his adviser Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri during an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir. Hamid in November 2001 in Kabul. (Hamid Mir/WikiMedia)

Osama bin Laden’s former spokesman is due to return to the UK after being released early from prison in the US.

Adel Abdel Bary, 60, was convicted of terror offenses for his role in Al-Qaeda’s 1998 attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.

He was responsible for transmitting Al-Qaeda’s claims of responsibility for the attacks to the media, and for disseminating threats of further violence against US citizens.

Abdel Bary was arrested a year after the 1998 attacks and extradited to the US after a protracted legal battle.

As part of a plea deal, he admitted to three charges, including conspiracy to murder US citizens abroad, and was sentenced to 25 years behind bars. Consideration was made for the 16 years he had already spent in custody.

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The Times reported that Abdel Bary, who is asthmatic and obese, was released weeks early on compassionate grounds due to the high risks posed to him by COVID-19.

The Egyptian-born terrorist operated from a base in London, where he claimed asylum. He became head of the London cell of an Egyptian terrorist organization before it merged with Al-Qaeda in 1998.

While working for Al-Qaeda, he spread propaganda on its behalf, assisted with recruitment and provision of funds, and provided cover and support for its military activities.

The UK government is urgently reviewing Abdel Bary’s situation, and sources told The Times that he would be placed under priority investigation.

“This is not someone who will simply just be walking the streets of Britain again. We are very alive to the risk involved in his potential return,” a government source said.

He will be surveilled by the state for connections with former colleagues or other suspicious activities.

It is understood that he will not be deported from the US until the UK has adequately prepared for his arrival.

Abdel Bary’s son, Abdel-Majed Abdel, was arrested in Spain this year, having joined Daesh in Syria in 2013 and gaining notoriety for posing online with the severed head of a Syrian regime soldier.

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© 2020 the Arab News