Page last updated at 22:14 GMT, Wednesday, 16 June 2010 23:14 UK

Terror suspect speaks about life under 'house arrest'

Inside the home of an alleged terrorist under virtual house arrest

By Richard Watson
BBC Newsnight

A man judged to be a threat to national security has decided to break his strict bail conditions so he can speak out about the difficulty of his life under virtual house arrest.

Hussain Saleh Hussain Alsamamara, a Jordanian living in London, has been filmed over the past six months by two independent film-makers who then passed the material to the BBC's Newsnight programme.

The government says Mr Alsamamara is a committed Islamist extremist and a danger to Britain. Almost all of the evidence against him is thought to be intelligence material which neither he nor his lawyers have seen.

What is known about the evidence against Alsamamara?

Mr Alsamamara arrived in Britain in 2001 and claimed asylum. That claim was rejected and in 2004 he was arrested by police and imprisoned, pending deportation to Jordan.

The Jordanian intelligence department has told the British government it wants to question him in relation to alleged contact with the former leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, and over claims that he underwent paramilitary training in Afghanistan.

Mr Alsamamara denies any links with terrorism and says he faces torture if he is returned.

Secret intelligence

So what is the nature of the evidence against Mr Alsamamara? Very little is in the public domain but some indications are given in a document published in 2007 by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC).

Hussain Saleh Hussain Alsamamara's will reads:

"...those tyrant rulers who rule the Muslim countries and their helpers, eg the police, the intelligence etc. I pray to Allah that he would enable me to slaughter these infidels who spread corruption, immorality and ignorance of religion of Allah..."

"I would ask Allah to make my fate to be in a land of Jihad..."

"I would... say to my brothers (named) to live according to Allah's will and join up those to sacrifice their blood for the cause of Allah and fulfil what the Prophet Mohamed had said: 'if I want to conquer in the name of Allah, then I would fight, then conquer, fight then conquer more'"

Back then, SIAC dismissed his appeal against deportation, largely on the basis of secret intelligence which was excluded from Mr Alsamamara and his lawyers.

However, SIAC's judgment does refer to two open strands of evidence. Police found two CDs in a rack on his bedroom floor when they searched his house in 2004. The contents were discussed in closed sessions so we cannot be sure what was on these CDs, but it is likely to be propaganda material.

Mr Alsamamara denies any knowledge of these CDs.

Police also found a will in an envelope on a notice-board. SIAC said it was written in "lurid terms". It includes references to "jihad" and records his wish "to slaughter" members of the Jordanian government and the police.

Mr Alsamamara does not deny writing this will but argues it simply quotes from the Qur'an and the hadiths, and it reflects his natural hatred of the Jordanian authorities who tortured him in the past.

SIAC disagreed, stating:

"This is the will of an Islamist extremist... it is a declaration by an Islamist extremist that he wishes, if possible, to meet his fate in fighting the enemies of Islam."

Newsnight showed the wording to an imam and expert, Dr Usama Hasan. He knows the jihadi mindset, having volunteered as a young man to fight with the Afghan mujahideen. Now he works to counter radicalisation in the UK. Dr Hasan told Newsnight:

"This is someone who is clearly inspired by jihadi ideas, what I would call al-Qaeda ideas, and is very passionate about the jihad, going as far as to regard the Muslim governments and police and armies as legitimate targets… not a normal will at all."

Living under a bail order

A film made from Mr Alsamamara's interview material, broadcast on Wednesday night by the BBC, offers a rare glimpse into the life of someone at the centre of controversial legislation which permits the use of secret evidence against terror suspects.

Electronic tagging
No passport
Live at one address
Restrictions on visitors
No internet
Attend only one mosque
Daily reporting to the police
Daily monitoring by phone

Mr Alsamamara is tagged, must stay inside his house for 18 hours a day, and when he leaves he can only travel a couple of miles from his home in a legally delineated zone. He cannot meet people without prior approval from the home secretary, has no access to the internet and has one fixed telephone line which is likely to be monitored.

Critics argue this amounts to house arrest.

Mr Alsamamara says: "My wife and my daughter and my new born son, they become prisoners with me in the house. Now my wife she is mentally ill and this is a result of my situation."

But beyond the question of whether Mr Alsamamara is a committed Islamist extremist or not lie a number of difficult issues.

Even if he were planning jihadi action against the rulers of Jordan, does that constitute a threat to the UK? And is it ever justifiable to effectively detain someone when they know virtually nothing about the case against them?

Mr Alsamamara's case illustrates the conflict between protecting national security and upholding human rights.

Live interview with bail order terror suspect

Over the past six months he has given on-camera interviews to two independent film-makers, Gemma Atkinson and Fred Grace. By recording the interviews Mr Alsamamara was in breach of his bail conditions.

Mr Alsamamara says: "If they believe that I'm a threat to the national security and if they have evidence to prove that I'm a threat to the national security, why don't they put me on an open trial?"

Newsnight decided to broadcast the resulting film because of the high level of public interest and debate about the use of highly restrictive bail and control orders in terrorism cases.

Watch the film in full for the next seven days on the BBC iPlayer.

Hussain Saleh Hussain Alsamamara film from "No Place Like Home" produced by Fat Rat Films/DarkFibre/CTVC Producers - Fred Grace, Marc Hawker and Paul Woolwich, Director - Gemma Atkinson.

Q&A: Control orders
01 Feb 10 |  UK

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