Abu Hamza to arrive in US following failed extradition appeal
Radical cleric Abu Hamza and four other suspects are to arrive in the United States today to face terror charges after being extradited from Britain.
The men were on board two planes that left a military airbase in Suffolk late last night, Home Secretary Theresa May confirmed.
The suspects had made last-ditch challenges against removal from the UK, which were rejected by two High Court judges in London yesterday.
Speaking after the extradition, May said, “I am pleased the decision of the court meant that these men, who used every available opportunity to frustrate and delay the extradition process over many years, could finally be removed.”
She added, “This government has co-operated fully with the courts and pressed at every stage to ensure this happened. It is right that these men, who are all accused of very serious offences, will finally face justice.”
The five terror suspects were transported from HMP Long Lartin in Worcestershire to RAF Mildenhall in a police convoy, which arrived at the base at around 10pm yesterday. Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s extradition unit handed the men over to US officials before they left British soil just before midnight, Scotland Yard said.
Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Mr Justice Ouseley rejected an application by Hamza to be given time to undergo a brain scan his lawyers said could show he is medically unfit to face trial. They also threw out challenges by Babar Ahmad, Syed Ahsan, Khaled Al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary, making way for May to give the go-ahead for their immediate extradition.
All five cases returned to the High Court after judges at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) refused to intervene and stop the Home Secretary extraditing them to the US. Between 1999 and 2006, the men were indicted on various terrorism charges in America.
A US Embassy spokeswoman said: “These extraditions mark the end of a lengthy process of litigation through the UK courts and the ECHR. The US government agrees with the ECHR’s findings that the conditions of confinement in US prisons, including in maximum security facilities, do not violate European standards.”
Hamza, a former imam at Finsbury Park mosque in north London, was jailed in the UK for seven years for soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred in 2006. He first faced an extradition request from American in 2004.
He has been charged with 11 counts of criminal conduct related to taking 16 hostages in Yemen in 1998, advocating jihad in Afghanistan in 2001, and conspiring to establish a jihad training camp in Oregon between June 2000 and December 2001.
Ahmad, a computer expert from south London, and Ahsan are accused of offences including using a website to provide support to terrorists and conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure persons or damage property in a foreign country.
Bary and Al-Fawwaz were indicted with Osama bin Laden and 20 others for their alleged involvement in the bombing of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998.