Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza, two preachers who lived off state benefits after claiming asylum, are identified by the American authorities as the key recruiters responsible for sending dozens of extremists from throughout the world to Pakistan and Afghanistan via London mosques.
The leaked WikiLeaks documents, written by senior US military commanders at Guantánamo Bay, illustrate how, for two decades, Britain effectively became a crucible of terrorism, with dozens of extremists, home-grown and from abroad, radicalised here.
Finsbury Park mosque, in north London, is described as a “haven” for extremists. United States intelligence officials concluded the mosque served as “an attack planning and propaganda production base”.
The files will raise questions over why the Government and security services failed to take action sooner to tackle the capital’s reputation as a staging post for terrorism, which became so established that the city was termed “Londonistan”.
The documents show that at least 35 detainees at Guantánamo had passed through Britain before being sent to fight against Allied forces in Afghanistan. This is thought to be more than from any other Western nation.
Of those, 18 were originally from abroad. The other 17 were British nationals or citizens granted residency here after claiming asylum, who were indoctrinated before being sent to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.
The Government has paid millions of pounds in compensation and benefits to people regarded as highly dangerous by the US authorities.
Qatada, who was paid compensation under human rights laws for being “unfairly detained”, is described as “the most successful recruiter in Europe” and a “focal point for extremist fundraising [and] recruitment”. Hamza is accused of encouraging “his followers to murder non-Muslims”.