Wikileaks Dump Reveals Intel on Radical London Mosque; Royal Wedding-Obsessed Networks Ignore Story

April 28th, 2011 12:20 PM

On Sunday, a Wikileaks document dump revealed files from Guantanamo Bay in which military commanders noted the Finsbury Park mosque in north London was a "haven" for Islamic extremists, "an attack planning and propaganda production base" that recruited jihadists to fight in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

But while the American mainstream media have been ga-ga over tomorrow's royal wedding, there's been little if any attention paid to this development by the very same reporters who were packing their bags for London.

A search of Nexis for ABC, CBS, and NBC news transcripts from April 25 through today reveals nothing on the Finsbury Park mosque, although other information from the latest wikileaks dump was discussed.

ABC's Juju Chang on the April 25 "Good Morning America":

We're learning more about Osama bin Laden's movements after 9/11. Classified documents newly released by WikiLeaks reveal bin Laden traveled across Afghanistan by car with his top deputy, delegating control of al Qaeda, fearing he'd be captured.

CBS's Katie Couric and David Martin on the April 25 "Evening News":

COURIC: Good evening, everyone. We all remember where we were on September 11th, 2001. But we never knew what the masterminds were doing that terrible day. Tonight we have the answer, contained in more than 700 documents from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay and just published by WikiLeaks. As it turns out, while Americans watched in horror as the twin towers burned, al-Qaeda`s top leaders were watching, too. More now from David Martin.




DAVID MARTIN, CBS CORRESPONDENT: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the plot mastermind, was in Karachi, Pakistan watching on television with Ramzi bin al-Shibh, the day-to-day coordinator of the operation. "After the success of the attacks, the operatives prostrated themselves and gave thanks to Allah," one document says. Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who engineered the bombing of the USS Cole couldn`t be there, he was in a Karachi hospital having his tonsils out. Nashiri may have been the most dedicated terrorist of all. He reportedly received injections to promote impotence rather than be distracted by women. The documents based on the interrogation of prisoners at Guantanamo say after 9/11 all the senior operatives left Pakistan for Afghanistan to meet with Osama bin Laden who would watch the attacks from Kandahar. Bin Laden
and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, spent the next couple of months moving about Afghanistan by car, finally taking refuge in the Tora Bora mountains. ! In mid-December, 2001, the two disappeared across the board into Pakistan. The others were eventually captured but not before bin al-Shibh threatened to slit his own throat rather than be taken alive.




MARTIN: But you can`t believe everything a captured terrorist says. There is one sensational but unconfirmed report that al-Qaeda actually had a nuclear bomb it would set off if bin Laden were captured. Katie?


COURIC: David Martin at the Pentagon tonight, David, thank you.

NBC's Ann Curry in two news briefs on the April 25 "Today" and NBC's Brian Williams in a brief anchor mention on the same day's "Nightly News":

ANN CURRY: Last night WikiLeaks released hundreds of new classified military documents, this time detailing conditions at Guantanamo Bay prison. The documents also indicate that in some cases faulty intelligence is being used to hold the 172 men still imprisoned there in deplorable conditions.




ANN CURRY, anchor: And last night--there is some news--last night, WikiLeaks released hundreds of new classified military documents, this time providing new information about the detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison. The documents indicate that in some case faulty intelligence has been used to detain the 172 men still in prison there. And this latest release also reveals that much of al-Qaeda's core leadership was in Karachi, Pakistan, during the 9/11 attacks, many watching the events on television from a safe house. And within 24 hours, according to the documents, most return to Afghanistan to prepare for war.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, "Nightly News" anchor: The Web site WikiLeaks has released hundreds of new classified military documents, and this trove details conditions inside the US prison at Gitmo, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The secret documents reveal most of the remaining prisoners, 172 individuals to be exact, are at high risk of posing a threat to the US if released. But the documents also show that an even larger number of the prisoners who were released were also designated high risk before they were freed or otherwise sent to other countries.

The London Daily Telegraph has been reporting on this since Monday morning. From a story published at 7 a.m. British Standard Time (3 a.m. Eastern) on Monday:

When Finsbury Park mosque opened nearly 20 years ago it was intended to be a centre for peaceful worship, feted by the Prince of Wales and seen as an emblem of multi-cultural Britain.


But the Guantánamo WikiLeaks files disclose that by the late 1990s the mosque in north London had become a “haven” for extremism where disaffected young men from around the world were radicalised before being sent to al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.


At least 35 Guantánamo detainees passed through Finsbury Park and a network of other centres used by extremists in Britain, including Regent’s Park mosque, East London mosque and a rented room above the Four Feathers Youth Club near Baker Street.


The mosques became recruitment centres for an al-Qaeda cell led by Abu Hamza, the radical imam formerly based in Finsbury Park, who is serving a seven-year sentence at Belmarsh high security prison, and Abu Qatada, a fanatical Muslim cleric described by British intelligence as “Osama bin Laden’s ambassador to Europe”.


Together, they turned London into a hub of global terrorism, taking in impressionable immigrants by the dozen and churning them out as killers-in-waiting.


As well as the men who passed through mosques in London, another 10 were radicalised outside the capital, mainly in Birmingham. For many of the Guantánamo detainees who passed through London, their journey to extremism began with hopes of a better life.