Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Abu Hamza al Masri

Abu Hamza al Masri has been charged in the UK for "possessing Al Qaeda literature and inciting the killing of Jews and other non-Muslims." He is wanted in the US for "sending a scout to the United States to explore setting up a terrorist training camp in Oregon, supplying services and recruits to Al Qaeda and to the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and of being an accessory to a kidnapping in Yemen in which four foreign tourists were killed. "

British authorities Tuesday charged extremist cleric Abu Hamza al Masri with possessing Al Qaeda literature and inciting the killing of Jews and other non-Muslims, delaying his possible extradition to the United States, where he is wanted on terrorism charges.

The Crown Prosecution Service lodged 16 counts against the cleric, whom terrorism experts have long considered a major Al Qaeda supporter in Europe. The move means he would stand trial in England before being sent to the United States.

U.S. authorities accuse Abu Hamza of sending a scout to the United States to explore setting up a terrorist training camp in Oregon, supplying services and recruits to Al Qaeda and to the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and of being an accessory to a kidnapping in Yemen in which four foreign tourists were killed.

Abu Hamza, 46, a native of Egypt who moved to England 25 years ago, gained notoriety after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as the inflammatory prayer leader who praised the bombings at his north London mosque, which had been attended by several alleged Al Qaeda operatives.

The charges presented Tuesday were based mainly on tapes of sermons he gave in which he allegedly used hateful language and exhorted followers to act violently, particularly against Jews.

He was accused of "threatening, abusive or insulting behavior with intent to stir up racial hatred." The charges also said that at the time of his arrest in May, Abu Hamza possessed a document "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing to commit an act of terrorism."

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