Abu Hamza Found Guilty In New York Terror Trial

Abu Hamza

Extradited British cleric Abu Hamza has been found guilty of terrorism charges in the United States. The radical preacher faced 11 charges in total, including conspiring to set up a terror training camp in Oregon, conspiring to kidnap Americans in Yemen and providing support to terrorist organisations. At a federal court in New York, the jury convicted him on all counts. He could face life in prison when he is sentenced. Hamza, whose real name is Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, has already served a UK prison sentence for using his sermons at the Finsbury Park Mosque in London to incite murder and racial hatred. He was extradited to the US in 2012 after a protracted legal battle and had been awaiting trial since then. The prosecution said Hamza, 56, used the cover of religion to export terror and violence across the world.

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In a court room just blocks from Ground Zero, the jury watched an interview in which Hamza celebrated the 9/11 attacks and the hijackers. They heard him give speeches justifying suicide bombings, the killing of civilians and urging young men to train for violent jihad. Prosecutor Edward Kim told the court: “His cause was war and it was all consuming … his goal was simple and it was clear and it was vicious.” The court heard how Hamza conspired to set up an al Qaeda-style training camp in Bly, Oregon, without ever setting foot in America. Inspired by his sermons, a Seattle-based follower called James Ujaama thought the remote area with permissive gun laws would make a perfect training ground for fighters intent on waging holy war. He wrote in a fax to Hamza that it was “just like Afghanistan”.

Ujaama, who served a prison sentence in connection with his role at the camp, but who secured early release in exchange for co-operation with the US government, told the court that Hamza’s backing for the camp would be a “star attraction”. He said: “Abu Hamza’s view on the physical jihad training was that it’s obligatory, every Muslim should engage in it.” Hamza, who told the court he lost both hands in an accident while working as a contractor for the Pakistani military, was also charged with conspiring to kidnap American tourists in Yemen in 1998. His lawyers argued that the cleric acted as an intermediary to negotiate the release of the hostages. They also said their client was guilty only of holding offensive views, and revealed in court that during his time in London, Hamza had acted as a kind of consultant to the British intelligence services.

He was often called upon, they said, to use his contacts and ease tensions to “keep the streets of London safe”. They said Hamza, who broke down on the stand while testifying about the massacre of men and boys in Bosnia, was a principled, independent man who was concerned about the plight of oppressed Muslims. Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May said: “I am pleased that Abu Hamza has finally faced justice. He used every opportunity, over many years, to frustrate an delay the extradition process.”

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