Yesterday on a Florida radio show the host asked me why, if Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens really has terrorist ties, has the UK not prosecuted him. Excellent question. We have seen dhimmitude from Jack Straw before, but still, this incident shows the need for Homeland Security to make public at least some of its information about this man: it is important for the public to be able to have confidence in its decisions. From AFP, with thanks to Kevin:
BRITISH Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has complained to his American counterpart Colin Powell about the deportation from the US of former pop star Cat Stevens as a possible terrorist risk.
Mr Straw, in New York for United Nations meetings, had spoken to the US Secretary of State about the imminent removal of the British musician, his spokesman said.
“He heard the reports of the incident involving Cat Stevens,” the spokesman said. “He did say to the Secretary of State that this action should not have been taken.”
Stevens, who sold many millions of records before abandoning his pop career when he became a Muslim in the late 1970s, changing his name to Yusuf Islam.
He was due to be sent back to Britain later today.
Yesterday, a United Airlines flight from London to Washington was diverted to Bangor, Maine, after US authorities discovered that Islam was aboard.
His name appeared on several terrorism “watch lists” and he was rejected entry by US authorities.
“Why is he on the watch lists? Because of his activities that could be potentially linked to terrorism,” US Homeland Security spokesman Brian Doyle said yesterday.
“The intelligence community has come into possession of additional information that further raises our concern.”
Mr Islam was denied entry to Israel in 2000 over suspicions that he had given money to the radical Palestinian group Hamas. The singer has consistently denied supporting terrorism.
But unnamed British officials claim there is no evidence known to the country’s intelligence services that the former singer posed any danger.
The decision was also slammed as divisive by Islamic groups in Britain.
Mr Islam, who has been a vocal campaigner for the establishment of faith-based Muslim schools in Britain, was “a very moderate man”, the Muslim Council of Britain’s deputy general secretary, Mohammad Abdul Bari, said.
“We are really appalled at what is happening,” said Bari, who later held talks on the issue with junior foreign office minister Douglas Alexander.
“It is a slap in the face of sanity. If prominent, well-known personalities are treated like this, then how can there be bridge building?”