A leader of the terror group behind the Tunisian beach massacre is living off benefits in Britain, the Mail can reveal.
Jihadi preacher Hani al-Sibai – who described the 7/7 terror attacks in London in 2005 as a ‘great victory’ – is one of the ‘key influencers’ of the Islamic fanatics believed to have recruited and trained gunman Seifeddine Rezgui.
But he is living on £50,000 a year in handouts with his wife and five children in a £1 million house in West London, after using human rights laws to thwart attempts to deport him for more than 15 years.
Days after the atrocity in Tunisia, the Mail found al-Sibai, 54, strolling in the sunshine outside his home. Asked how he could justify milking the welfare state for so much, al-Sibai – who is under investigation suspected of benefit fraud – said: ‘Ask David Cameron, don’t ask me.’
Last night, there were furious calls to deport al-Sibai, who has also been linked to Islamic State executioner Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, is writing to Home Secretary Theresa May to demand an explanation as to why al-Sibai is still in the country. ‘It is extraordinary that successive governments have been trying but failing to remove someone who has these worrying links,’ he said. ‘The way he has foiled attempts to remove him are a cause for enormous concern.’
Tory MP Peter Bone added: ‘This is the sort of thing that drives my constituents mad. I expect the Home Secretary to deal with this urgently. There is a very strong case for him to be deported. He needs to be dealt with.’
The Mail last week revealed the links between the beach massacre in Tunisia and Islamic extremism in Britain.
Tunisian terror group Ansar al-Sharia – which authorities believe to have recruited and trained Rezgui – was founded and is run by extremist Saifallah Ben Hassine, who became a disciple of hate preacher Abu Qatada in London in the late 1990s.
Ben Hassine, who is said to have plotted the beach massacre from his base in Libya, is also believed to have had a key role in the plotting of 9/11.
Al-Sibai is a close associate of the group. He is cited at length in a 2013 report by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague, and is described as one of Ansar al-Sharia’s ‘key influencers’.
He is also noted for his connection to Ben Hassine, also known as Abu Iyad. ‘Al-Sibai’s involvement in international jihadism runs long and deep,’ the report states. ‘Al-Sibai has maintained his loyalty to Abu Iyad over the years. When Ansar al-Sharia held its Kairouan conference in May 2012, al-Sibai was one of several foreign scholars to address the audience by video.’
Al-Sibai and his family live in a three-storey, four-bedroom home in Ravenscourt Park. The rent for the housing association home is covered by the taxpayer. He parks his Toyota Corolla Verso – which cost £16,995 – in a dedicated disabled spot outside his house.
Al-Sibai and his wife are estimated to be on benefits of more than £48,000 a year – almost double the cap of £26,000. They are able to defy the limit because both are entitled to disability living allowance. Al-Sibai has also used public money to fund a series of legal cases against the Government to stop him being deported and to have his name removed from terrorist sanction lists.
Al-Sibai, who has written about ‘celebrating the anniversary of the martyrdom of Sheikh Osama bin Laden’, was last night under investigation on suspicion of benefit fraud.
The Department for Work and Pensions said: ‘People who commit, plan and support acts of terror will be prosecuted and anyone who has been deported or sent to prison will lose their benefits.’
The Home Office said: ‘We do not routinely comment on individual cases.’