Yorkshire, 23 Jul 2009 (Somalilandpress) — MURDERER Mustaf Jama tried to escape justice even after he was captured and brought back to Britain from his African hideout, it can be revealed today.
A James Bond-style snatch and grab mission was carried out in the Somali desert, where he had fled weeks after a bungled armed robbery in Bradford in 2005, during which two unarmed police officers were shot in the chest, one fatally.
Ironically, he chose to lie low in the lawless state of his birth where British officials had declined to deport him as a younger man when he picked up a string of convictions – because it was deemed unsafe to do so.
No official figure has been put on the cost of the operation – and Jama’s defence team claimed the Somalis demanded a large sum.
After he was snatched, Jama tried to challenge the legality of the extradition, arguing last July at Woolwich Crown Court that the process amounted to kidnap.
Questions about the cost were raised at the hearing, which can be reported for the first time.
Jama’s barrister, Owen Davies QC, said: “A very large sum of money was being demanded by the requesting state in terms of costs and I still do not know what those costs represent.
“I cannot imagine it costs that much for petrol from one city to the other.”
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West Yorkshire Police picked up the bill for bringing Jama back from Africa, with the Home Office and Foreign Office sharing the cost of the operation in Somalia.
Mr Justice Simon threw out the challenge, and ruled Jama should stand trial for murder.
During the hearing, details emerged of the daring mission, which would not have been out of place in a spy novel.
Secret intelligence indicated he was lying low in Somaliland, a region fighting for independence from Somalia.
The British authorities deemed it too dangerous to enter the failed state, so agreed to pay the Somalis to get him out of the country.
The process began with a direct approach to the country’s president from a junior Home Office minister, and although no formal treaty between the two countries exists, diplomats agreed a “memorandum of understanding”.
In October 2007 the 29-year-old was stopped in his Land Rover at a road block near the village where his father is a warlord, then held overnight by a 15-strong militia in a cell.
A pilot initially refused to fly him to Dubai the next day from a remote airstrip, believing he was being asked to transport an al Qaida terror suspect.
He was then shown official documents signed by senior Somali officials and the British Ambassador to Kenya to persuade him to undertake the four-hour flight to Dubai in a six-seater plane.
British and United Arab Emirates police met him at Dubai and put him on a scheduled Virgin flight to Heathrow.
Jama claimed during the Woolwich hearing that he was mistreated and hit with the butt of a gun – but a photograph showed him smoking happily among his captors.
One Somali heard him say he had been “with some friends when a policeman had been killed”.
He was found with a gun in his waistband at the roadblock – but did not try to blast his way out, unlike the robbers he joined for the Bradford raid.
Jama explained how he fled to Africa despite being Britain’s most wanted man.
He used friend Mohammed Gulled’s passport to travel to Somalia from Gatwick, via Dubai and Djibouti.
Contrary to reports at the time that said he wore a woman’s burkha as a disguise, Jama said he travelled in ordinary clothes.
He claimed to have been given £2,000 by friends and said he drove the final stretch from Djibouti to Somaliland.
Asked why he fled, Jama said he “panicked” after seeing his name in the newspapers and did not want to be arrested like his brother.
He came to Britain aged 12 in 1992 after his family claimed they were being persecuted in a tribal uprising, and he was given permission to stay six years later.
His younger brother Yusuf and their friend Muzzaker Shah were jailed for life in 2006 for murdering Pc Sharon Beshenivsky.
Mustaf Jama’s criminal record began in 1997, aged 17, when he was convicted of affray.
He has since been jailed several times for a string of offences, including robbery, affray and driving matters.
He was jailed again in 2005 for burglary, and in the run-up to the failed Bradford raid, he lived at a hostel in Harrow, North London.
Though married, his wife lived with her mother in Edgware.