For almost two weeks this month the British media had a field day with the trial of Abu Hamza Al-Masri, an Egyptian-born self-styled Islamic "scholar" charged with a number of violent crimes.
The trial ended with Abu Hamza being sentenced to five years imprisonment, which means he could be out in two and a half years.
Dubbed "The Hook" by the media because, having lost his hands when caught in a minefield in Afghanistan two decades ago, he wears hook-like prosthetic, Abu Hamza is sure to feel sore at the way he has been treated in his adopted homeland.
And he may well be right.
To start with if Abu Hamza, regarded by many as a buffoon, is such a deadly threat to Britain, indeed to civilization as a whole, why is he getting away with such a light sentence?
It is hard to guess what might be passing through someone like Abu Hamza's confused mind. But if he were to replay the film of his life in Britain in his mind he might come up with a few questions.
Abu Hamza fled Egypt and arrived in Britain on a tourist visa at the age of 22.
The first question he might now want to ask is: How come they gave me a visa when they knew I had a criminal record in Egypt?
The visa had allowed him to stay in Britain for three months. Those three months came and went without anybody asking him to leave. Instead he started to work as a bouncer in a cabaret, without legal documents including a work permit. Again he might want to ask why was it that no one bothered to remind him that he was breaking the law.
Next, Abu Hamza was advised by his buddies that if he wanted to stay in Britain permanently he had to marry a British citizen. This he duly did by wooing a naturalized Briton of Iberian extraction. He had, of course, no interest in the woman. But, once again, no one told him that by arranging a fake marriage to obtain British documents he was breaking the law.
Soon afterward he was granted his British passport, a document denied to millions of people who used to be citizens of the British Empire for generations before it disintegrated.
Abu Hamza might have wondered why he could get a British passport while his fellow Egyptian Muhammad Fayed, the owner of Harrods, a luxury shop in Knightsbridge, couldn't.
Abu Hamza's puzzlement must have been even greater when he compared the ease with which he was helped to settle in Britain with the sufferings of hundreds of Egyptians and other Arabs expelled from the United Kingdom each year.
Once he had become a subject of Her Britannic Majesty, Abu Hamza, for reasons known only to himself, suddenly discovered a passion for the most radical version of Islamism.
In those days, for anyone who wanted to build a career as a "holy warrior", Afghanistan was the place to be.
So, our cabaret-bouncer-turned— holy warrior travels to Pakistan to join the Mujahedeen in the fight against Soviet atheists. What happened, however, was that Abu Hamza, like most so-called "Arab Afghans", never actually fought the Soviets. Instead he joined Haji Akbar's faction to fight other Muslim Afghan groups.
That is, however, not the issue.
The issue is that Abu Hamza might have wondered why the British authorities who must have known what he was up to never took an interest in what he was up to. After all here was a British citizens going to a foreign land to kill people and then return home to have his teeth cleaned by the National Health Service; no questions asked.
Having done his spot of jihad in Afghanistan, Abu Hamza decided to promote himself to the position of "Islamic scholar" and "Islamic cleric". Again in Britain, this land of undreamt freedoms, no one ever asked him for his credentials. He must have wondered why it was that you can't work as a cab driver without a permit while you can pose as an "Islamic scholar" without any qualifications.
Soon, things got even better.
Abu Hamza targeted the mosque in Finsbury Park for what, in City parlance, might be called a hostile takeover bid. So one day he turned up with a group of heavies and elbowed out the mosque's board of trustees. When one or two trustees tried to resist the illegal takeover, Abu Hamza made them an offer they couldn't refuse. The trustees complained to the police but were told to take a walk.
It is not hard to guess what Abu Hamza might have thought: Here was a country where law enforcement was selective, to say the least.
To attract money from organizations that fund radical groups, Abu Hamza transformed the mosque he had confiscated into a hotbed of agitation. In sermons that would send a chill down normal spines, Abu Hamza preached murder and mayhem without anyone reminding him that he was breaking the laws on incitement to violence.
Using the technique of "sabar" which means, sounding out the adversary's resolve, Abu Hamza then diversified his business to add new lines such as recruiting and training "volunteers of martyrdom" for operations in a dozen countries. At one stage he even opened a branch in the United States where he set up a training camp for "volunteers for martyrdom." Again, no one told him that what he was doing was very un-British, to say the least.
How could one blame Abu Hamza for thinking that what he was doing was all right with the British authorities? On a number of occasions he had led his heavies in demonstrations in front of 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the British prime minister, and made blood-curdling speeches without being read the riot act.
Worse still, Abu Hamza knew that terrorist organizations from half a dozen Arab countries had set up propaganda bases and safe havens in Britain without being bothered. Like any Londoner he would see fearsome militants around mosques calling for the murder of this or that Arab leader without being cautioned by the police.
The assassination of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Afghan freedom fighter, was planned on Edgeware Road in London. The abortive attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's life during a visit to Ethiopia was also plotted in London as was the bombing of the Paris Metro that claimed the lives of six people.
For 10 years Britain protected the treasurer of the Islamic Armed Group (GIA), the most vicious of terrorist organizations in recent times, despite the fact that France, Belgium, Spain and Algeria wanted him extradited
Abu Hamza must have seen or at least heard about all that. Also, he must have known that a dozen countries, including France, were asking Britain to extradite terrorists who had committed atrocities in their territory, but to no avail. He must have concluded that Britain was the headquarters of terror and that the term "Londonistan", coined by the French anti-terror judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, was not a mere token of Gallic pick.
Not surprisingly, Abu Hamza took his activities a notch further when he organized an attack on the British Embassy compound in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital.
The commandos he had sent did not manage to kill any British diplomats but did cause quite a stir. And, yet, he continued with his life in London unmolested, with the British police claiming that there was not enough evidence to bring him to court. It was not until five years later that the incident was brought up in Abu Hamza's rushed trial in London.
As the trial showed Abu Hamza believed that he had reached a tacit understanding with the British authorities under which he was free to plot every crime under the sun against other countries without being discomforted as long as "there is no blood on our streets."
Prime Minister Tony Blair says that things changed with last July's terror attacks in the heart of London.
But, have they?