As Islamist miltias have established Taliban-like rule in northern Mali since taking the vast territory in March, regional powers have been muddling towards military intervention. On Nov. 21, Reuters reported that "military experts from Africa, the United Nations and Europe have drafted plans to retake control of northern Mali." We are told that "African leaders will this month seek a UN mandate to send a mainly West African force of some 4,000 to Mali to...back military operations to retake swathes of the Sahara desert from rebels." Quoted is Stephen O'Brien, the UK's first special envoy to the Sahel, speaking from Nigeria: "This deep insecurity... we have to recognize that, unless it is checked and it is not met, then it will have the potential for export." He called the Mali crisis was "a universal threat" with "the capability of threatening interests outside the...region." While no other European countries are mentioned, we may assume that France will play a leading role.
The UK Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) on Nov. 12 granted the appeal of Muslim cleric Abu Qatada (BBC profile), blocking his extradition to Jordan, where he is accused of organizing bomb attacks. Qatada has been described as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe," and UK officials believe he should remain in prison for national security reasons. While never formally charged with an offense in the UK, he has for years been in and out of custody—either imprisonment or house arrest. The judge stated he did not believe Jordanian authorities would mistreat Qatada, but Jordan allows use of evidence gained as a result of the torture of others, and thus Qatada could not receive a fair trial.
The High Court of England and Wales on Oct. 5 approved the extradition of five terror suspects to the US. The court's decision comes a week after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) gave its final approval of the extradition, which it had initially approved in April. Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri and four other suspects appealed that ruling in July, but the ECHR declined to revisit their arguments. In its decision, the court criticized the extensive time spent litigating the extradition. In addition to al-Masri, British citizens Syed Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad and Saudi-born Khaled Al-Fawwaz are now slated to be extradited. All five men are wanted in the US on terrorism charges and will face imprisonment without parole at ADX Florence, a super-maximum security prison in Colorado. It has not been announced when the group will be extradited nor when they will be tried in the US.
The Queen's Bench Division on the High Court of England and Wales ruled Oct. 5 that three elderly Kenyans can sue the British government for torture they suffered while in detention under the British colonial administration in the 1950s. Judge Richard McCombe ruled that the three Kenyans could claim damages against the British government for the harm they sustained at the hands of their captors during the Mau Mau uprising. The three claimants, who were not in court to hear the ruling, seek apologies from Britain and reparations in the form of welfare benefit funding for other Kenyan victims of colonial torture.