Radical Islamic preacher Abu Qatada, who was deported from the United Kingdom, took part in secret negotiations that tried to save the life of Peter Kassig a hostage from the U.S. who was beheaded by the militant group Islamic State.
Qatada, who is 53, and another cleric who is also an extremist, were persuaded by a lawyer from the U.S. to start talks with IS in an attempt to secure Kassig’s release.
The attempt was backed by officials in counter terrorism with the FBI. However, one official denied that the agency had offered either cleric immunity from any possible reprisals after getting in touch with IS.
Talks held by the radical Qatada, once labeled by a judge as the spiritual ambassador of al-Qaeda, in Europe and convicted terrorist Mohammed al-Maqdisi, reportedly started in October and ran for a number of weeks with FBI knowledge.
The aim was persuading IS to stop kidnapping civilians and murdering them.
However, Kassig who was 26 was murdered last month and President Obama said at that time, the killing was an act of evil by a known terrorist group that the entire world associated rightly with inhumanity.
Qatada previously had denounced hostage beheadings by IS, saying the gruesome actions by the militants were against the teachings of Islam.
His involvement in the attempts to negotiate the release of Kassig from captivity inside Syria were not the first time he has attempted to gain the release of hostages from the West.
In 2005, Qatada recorded a message on video from his prison that called for Norman Kember to be released.
The involvement by Qatada in this initiative came weeks after becoming a free man after a Jordanian court ruled the evidence was insufficient against him.
He had been charged in Britain with helping in the targeting of American and Israeli tourists and diplomats from the West during 2000 in what was dubbed the millennium plot.
A European daily said the initiative that proved to be unsuccessful in saving Kassig was initiated by Stanley Cohen a lawyer in New York who has represented the son in law of Osama bin Laden and members of Hamas in courtrooms in the U.S.