PUBLISHED: 14:17 GMT, 26
March 2012 | UPDATED: 17:29 GMT, 26 March 2012
Something like you love life, we love death, but only for other people.
Abu Qatada, you will recollect, is the man once described by a judge as Osama Bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe. He is living in Britain courtesy of the European Court of Human Rights, which has ruled he could not get a fair trial if he were deported to his native Jordan. The Strasbourg judges fear evidence gained through torture could be used against him.
We know that Qatada is enjoying life because we have it from his brother in Jordan, who has said that ‘right now he is the happiest man in England’.
Rehoused: Qatada has been handed a more expensive taxpayer-funded home
This is a major endorsement for the Court of Human Rights, the European human rights convention which it enforces, and of course the Human Rights Act, which gives these rules precedence in our own law. In America, the Declaration of Independence offers the right only to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
Here the European court will give you happiness on a plate, although there has to be some doubt about the life bit if Abu Qatada is allowed to hang around for long.
According to his brother Ibrahim Othman, Qatada spends his days with his wife and five children living the simple life, watching Islamic TV channels and reading Islamic texts.
I’m surprised he’s not a Rolling Stones fan. You may remember Keith Richards saying happiness is not a Lear Jet to fly home on.
But if we are to believe Mr Othman, the main source of Qatada’s happiness is not his piety but his house. Let him tell it: ‘They have now given him a very nice new place, bigger than the first house he went to.
‘He is really enjoying his new home and so are his family. The inside is very modern and has been done up more nicely, it has more bedrooms and a larger garden. It is better for all the family. They are all very happy in the larger house.
‘The new house is costing more but he does not have to pay it because there is no way he can earn money.’
Of course. You and I are paying for Abu Qatada’s lovely house in Wembley, his second taxpayer-funded home since he was released from Long Lartin jail last month. I suspect the Home Office will be unable to contact Al Qaeda’s treasurer to see if he could help out with a few quid.
Qatada’s first house cost us a reported £1,900 a month in benefits for his rent. The new one is presumably more expensive still – which means he and his family must be getting more than the £26,000 benefits cap the Coalition is introducing for everybody else.
This is a further demonstration of the rewards of a long career in terrorism. We have seen various Irish figures with colourful CVs rise to high political office. Now Abu Qatada appears to have become a kind of benefits super-claimant.
He’s on a business class benefits ticket, all executive lounge and free peanuts, without any need ever to catch a plane.
If he was a proven terrorist instead of just a wanted suspect, they would probably have given him a job in the Government Equalities Office.
Qatada is also protected from any public revulsion that may have sprung from the widespread reporting of the fact that he is suspected of wanting to kill lots of people.
Sibling: Qatada’s brother Ibrahim Othman has said that the cleric is the ‘happiest man in England’
There is, according to Mr Othman, ‘much hatred’ of him in England, but nobody on his new street knows who he is.
Qatada is very unhappy with the British media over his reputation, particularly with what the Daily Mail has had to say, if we are to believe his brother. However, another state-funded agency, the BBC, is doing its best to help. Mr Othman said the BBC ‘has been much more favourable about him in its coverage. That’s what he likes to see.’
The Corporation told its journalists last month that Qatada should not be referred to as an extremist. He is properly described, they have been instructed, as radical. The BBC seems to think that Osama Bin Laden’s old mates come somewhere near Simon Hughes or perhaps Peter Tatchell on the political spectrum.
There will be many people who deplore all this. They will think it wrong that a group of questionably qualified judges sitting in Strasbourg wearing European badges can tell democratically-elected British politicians what to do about security threats. They may think security in Britain is the responsibility of our politicians, who must answer if anything goes wrong.
They may think it ludicrous when Home Secretary Theresa May flies to Jordan to beg its government for the right paperwork to convince Strasbourg that Qatada may be deported to face trial.
But look on the bright side. Here we have a figurehead of Islamic terrorism, one of the last living symbols of the deadly organisation developed by Bin Laden, whose spiritual leadership is such that getting a free house from his enemies is enough to make him happy.
Abu Qatada thinks happiness is a benefits cheque, and if I were a disaffected young Muslim, that thought would make me less inclined to turn myself into a walking bomb.