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US court finds Abu Hamza guilty on terrorism charges

20th May 2014
US court finds Abu Hamza guilty on terrorism charges

An American court has found an Egyptian-born Islamic cleric guilty on terrorism charges. The London-based cleric could now face a life sentence. 

The jury of eight men and four women at the New York court on Monday found Abu Hamza al-Masri, 56, guilty of all of the 11 charges against him, including kidnapping in connection with the 1998 abduction of 16 Western tourists in Yemen.

Abu Hamza, who was charged under the name of his birth, Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, was also accused of trying to set up a terrorist training camp in the western US state of Oregon in 1999.

Prosecutor Ian McGinley said in his closing statement last Friday that the evidence against Hamza was “simply overwhelming.”

Hamza’s defense lawyer, Jeremy Schneider, dismissed this as a “quantity of irrelevant evidence,” and argued that his client was being tried for “his words in general, not his deeds.”

The cleric, who gained notoriety as the imam of the Finsbury Park mosque in North London, where he was known for his fiery speeches attacking the United States, also denied all the charges against him.

[Abu] Hamza, who lost both hands and the sight in one eye during an accidental explosion in Pakistan two decades ago, was arrested in Britain on a request from the United States in 2004. Two years later he was sentenced by a British court to seven years in prison for inciting murder and spreading racial hatred.  He was extradited to the United States in 2012.

He is to face sentencing on September 9.

pfd/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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