Jeremy Corbyn campaigned for Israeli embassy car bombing pair


Jeremy Corbyn was a leading activist in the campaign for the release of two people who were jailed for their involvement in the bombing of a Jewish charity building and the Israeli embassy in London.

Jawad Botmeh and Samar Alami were convicted of conspiracy to cause the bombings of the embassy and Balfour House after both buildings were targeted by car bombs in 1994.

The pair were jailed for 20 years and fought a lengthy legal battle to clear their names. Botmeh was finally released in 2008. He had claimed Israel carried out the bombings itself.

Mr Corbyn, the frontrunner in the Labour leadership race, repeatedly raised the case in Parliament as part of the long-running campaign to overturn their convictions as a miscarriage of justice.

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He signed five early day motions in support of their case between 2002 and 2006, raising issues of public interest and calling for their parole.

In June 2003 Mr Corbyn questioned then Home Secretary David Blunkett about the investigation into the bombings. Mr Corbyn asked whether fingerprints linked the pair to the attacks, whether the drivers of the cars had been identified and whether the bombs had been manufactured.

Mr Blunkett said it had never been established where the bombs were made or who drove the cars.

Mr Corbyn also campaigned on Botmeh’s behalf two years ago during his attempt to be elected to the Board of Governors at London Metropolitan University.

In a letter to the university’s vice-chancellor from his Commons office on February 12, 2013, Mr Corbyn wrote: “Jawad’s case is, I believe, a miscarriage of justice.”

Botmeh and Alami’s case attracted interest for years, with campaigners repeatedly claiming their direct involvement in the bombings had never been clear.

Their initial appeal was rejected in 2001. Their lawyer, Michael Mansfield QC, said the Crown Prosecution Service and Home Office had not disclosed intelligence service information that could have cleared the pair.

But Crown prosecutors said evidence linking them to the cars that carried the explosives was “overwhelming”.

After the failed appeal, Botmeh said in a statement: “Myself and Samar had an unfair trial that was followed, after a long wait, by an unfair appeal. This was a political trial from day one and we are totally innocent. The real perpetrators still remain free. We were only convenient scapegoats.”

The bombings in July 1994 took place outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington, west London, and outside the then head office of the UJIA in Finchley, north London.

Both Botmeh and Alami admitted having had possession of five pounds of explosives which were used to make the bombs. Alami said she had had three hand guns and the explosives and guns were found in a lock-up she rented. But the pair denied they had intended to use the materials for explosions in Britain.

A spokesperson for the Jeremy Corbyn campaign said:" Jeremy was one of a number of individuals and organisations at the time who were concerned that there may have been a miscarriage of justice including Amnesty international, Harry Cohen MP, Tony Benn, Unison, Lord Gilmore, investigative journalist Paul Foot, Gareth Piece, lawyer for the Birmingham Six and Michael Mansfield."

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