He normally prayed at a “more moderate mosque,” he says. He just happened to catch a sermon or two from Abu Qatada, and just happened to choose Afghanistan as his place to flee from the British police. All just coincidences, you see. From The Times Online, “Detained Briton “˜had arms training,– with thanks to Twostellas:
A BRITON held at Guantanamo Bay has admitted attending prayer meetings in London led by a radical Muslim cleric with alleged links to Al-Qaeda but claims he travelled to Afghanistan because he was in trouble with the British police.
American court papers that were revealed for the first time this weekend accuse Richard Belmar, 25, of receiving weapons training at a terrorist camp and pledging allegiance to Osama Bin Laden.
Following the Afghan conflict, the papers say that Belmar fled to Pakistan but was captured during a raid on a suspected Al-Qaeda safehouse where 16 others were staying.
The new documents have been filed in a federal court in Washington DC where lawyers acting for Belmar and three other Britons held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba are challenging their detention.
The court papers outline the proceedings of a military tribunal convened at Camp Delta last November to determine whether Belmar, a former Catholic schoolboy from north London, should continue to be held as an “enemy combatant”.
On the basis of the evidence presented to it “” only some of which has been unclassified “” the three-man tribunal panel unanimously found Belmar to be “a member of, or affiliated with, Al-Qaeda”.
At the tribunal hearing, Belmar, a former Post Office worker who converted to Islam in 1999, said he had attended Friday prayer meetings hosted by Abu Qatada at a youth club near Baker Street on three occasions.
“He was there and would give a talk before the prayer,” said Belmar, who claimed that he normally prayed at a more moderate mosque in Regent’s Park. “I just wanted to catch the prayer; I didn’t really care about the talk.”
Qatada has been described by the Spanish authorities as Bin Laden’s “European ambassador”. His prayer meetings were attended at one stage by Richard Reid, the British “shoebomber” jailed in America for trying to blow up a transatlantic airliner, and Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker” in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The cleric has been held at Belmarsh high-security prison, southeast London, since 2002 for his alleged links to international terrorism.