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Deportation of ‘hate preacher’ blocked by immigration council

05:43 28/01/2022

Efforts to deport a preacher based in Maaseik (Limburg province) have been thwarted by the Belgian Council for Alien Law Litigation, which  says that intelligence reports listing Abdallah Ouahbour as a high-threat hate preacher are “too vague” and “too general”. 

Belgium’s secretary of state for asylum and migration, Sammy Mahdi, expressed disappointment with the council’s verdict, saying that he does not plan to give up and that “such radicals have no place here”.

Ouahbour is believed to be one of the main leaders of the “Masseik Group”, which is linked to the terrorist attacks in Casablanca and Madrid that killed 250 people in Spain in 2003, reports Le Soir.

A recent state security report also alleged that he supports the Islamic State terrorist group both morally and financially. 

Ouahbour was convicted of terrorism and spent time in jail in the early 2000s, but that conviction was later overturned because the European Court of Justice said it was based partly on information from Morrocan intelligence that may have been obtained through torture. 

The council that rejected the deportation order said this overturned conviction should not have been a consideration. Mahdi said that the council does not have access to the full intelligence dossier with incriminating information because it is classified, adding that he hopes to close this information gap through changes to the procedure. 

For his part, Ouahbour objects to the deportation, saying that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder related to his time in prison, and that he fears he will be arrested if he returns to Morocco. 

Mahdi recently withdrew the residency permit of another preacher filmed calling for the burning of Jews, preventing the efforts of a judge attempting to grant him Belgian citizenship. 

In the case of Abdallah Ouahbour, Mahdi is currently considering whether to appeal the decision of the council or file a new motion for deportation. 

Written by Helen Lyons