Abu Hamza found guilty of terrorism offences
Abu Hamza al-Masri, the radical Islamist cleric, who was extradited from the UK to the US in 2012, has been found guilty of terrorism charges by a federal court in New York on Monday.
The Egyptian-born hook-handed cleric was found guilty by a jury of eight men and four women in Manhattan federal court.
The 56-year-old served as an imam at the Finsbury Park mosque in North London during the 90s. It is reported that the mosque was attended by both 9/11 conspirators Zacharias Moussaoui and “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. Former London imam denied that he ever met them.
Hamza was accused of being a terrorist of a global reach and was charged with providing distinctive support to several terrorist organisations, including the 1998 kidnapping of 16 tourists in Yemen, in which three Britons and an Australian were killed.
He was also found guilty of conspiring in 1999-2000 to establish an Al-Qaida training camp in Bly and Oregon. He sent at least one man to several training camps in Afghanistan.
Hamza’s conviction, on all 11 charges, marks the end of a ten-year mission by American authorities to finally bring him to justice on US soil.
Monday’s conviction is not the only major terrorist related conviction for federal prosecutors in last two months. It follows that of Sulaiman Abu Gaith, son in law of Osama Bin Laden, in March. Gaith was also tried in a New York federal court and was found guilty of several charges related to his work as chief spokesman for Al-Qaida in the days after the 9/11 attacks.
After the guilty verdict was confirmed on Monday, officials from the US Department of Justice said: “It proved that such cases could be tried in civilian courts, rather than being sent to military trials at Guantanamo Bay.”
Manhattan US attorney Preet Bharara said: “Once again, our civilian system of justice has proven itself up to the task of trying an accused terrorists and arriving at a fair and just and a swift result.”
Born Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, Hamza came to Britain from Egypt in 1979. He worked as a bouncer at a strip club in London’s Soho in the mid-80s and was famous for his socialising and heavy drinking. He suffered injuries to his hands and eye in Afghanistan during a fight against the Soviet invasion. As a cleric, Hamza is notoriously remembered for his hate-filled sermons.