A former computer student from Croydon is set to be named as a key lieutenant of Abu Hamza, the hook-handed Islamic preacher who goes on trial in New York on Monday.
Feroz Ali Abbasi, 34, was among nine British Guantanamo detainees whose detention became a cause célèbre among those campaigning for the closure of the US military camp. His supporters have protested his innocence and insisted that the Americans could have no evidence against him.
But as the trial of Mr Hamza gets under way – he is accused of being a “terrorist leader of global reach” – testimony prepared for the court is expected to paint Mr Abbasi in a very different light.
Prosecutors have lined up a star witness, Saajid Badat, a British terrorist “supergrass”, to testify against Hamza by live video link from London, if the judge grants their request for him to do so.
In the court papers, the prosecutors said that Mr Badat would testify that Mr Hamza had sent both him and Mr Abbasi to al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan for jihad training in 2001.
The testimony is crucial to prove the US case that Mr Hamza, who preached at the Finsbury Park mosque in London, dispatched his followers for military training and worked to assist al-Qaeda, prosecutors argued in submissions to the judge.
Mr Abbasi, who was reportedly detained in northern Afghanistan in December 2001, is seen by many as a symbol of the unjustness of Guantanamo’s system of incarceration without trial or charges.
Since his release in 2005, he has worked with Cage Prisoners, now simply Cage, a campaign group for Muslim detainees “held as part of the war on terror”.
He insists that he moved to Afghanistan simply to pursue his Islamic studies, and that when he was captured, he was merely trying to escape the fighting after the overthrow of the Taliban regime.