A jury in the US has taken less than two days to find Abu Hamza guilty on multiple terrorism charges. He can now expect to spend the rest of his life in prison.
During the 1990s and later, Abu Hamza was one of a number of extremist clerics given apparent free-reign to operate in the UK. The effects of that teaching are still being felt. One of the killers of Lee Rigby asked in court to be called ‘Mujaahid Abu Hamza’.
But even if we can now ignore the man himself, the Abu Hamza story deserves to be remembered because of what it tells us about our society. If anyone is still in any doubt about our recent madness, I would urge them to watch this 5-minute clip from a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary aired in 1999. It shows, among other things, some video recordings from an Islamic Revival Movements Conference at the Quaker movement’s Friends House, London, in 1999. Speakers included Omar Bakri and Abu Hamza. If you go to about 1 minute 30 seconds you can see Abu Hamza standing in front of this room full of Muslim men teaching them ideas for how to bring down an aircraft.
The ‘Muslim Antiaircraft net’ in which a bomb-laden net will be let loose into the skies is Abu Hamza’s idea, shown to the audience in a power-point presentation via an overhead projector. But at the end of his speech Hamza urges his audience that this is just one idea he has come up with. He then urges his audience that they should ‘Invent your own ideas and never give up.’
In 1999 this was shown on British television and nothing happened. After 9/11 such things became slightly less amusing. Perhaps another decade from now we will look back at certain of our current lunacies and consider them with as much incredulity.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.