Abu Qatada al-Filistini is a Palestinian Muslim of Jordanian citizenship born Omar Mahmoud Othman.
In 1991, after the Gulf War, Abu Qatada was expelled from Kuwait along with many other Palestinians. He returned to Jordan, but in September 1993 he fled with his wife and five children to the UK, using a forged UAE passport. He requested asylum on grounds of religious persecution, claiming he had been tortured in Jordan, and asylum was granted in June 1994
Beginning in 1995, Barakat Yarkas, head of an al-Qaeda cell in Madrid, Spain, begins traveling frequently to Britain. Yarkas is being constantly monitored by Spanish intelligence and they learn that his cell is raising money for the Islamist militants in Chechnya who are fighting the Russian army there. Yarkas and fellow cell member Said Chedadi solicit funds from Arab business owners in Madrid and then take the cash to radical imam Abu Qatada in London. Abu Qatada is coordinating fundraising efforts. According to a later Spanish government indictment, Yarkas makes over 20 trips from Spain to Britain roughly between 1995 and 2000. He mostly meets with Qatada and Abu Walid, who an indictment will later call Abu Qatada’s right-hand man. From 1998 onwards, Spanish militant Jamal Zougam also travels occasionally to London to meet with Qatada.
In February 2001, British police will raid Abu Qatada’s house and find a large sum of money, possibly $250,000, including some money in an envelope marked “for the Mujaheddin in Chechnya.”