Muslim hate preacher Abu Hamza, extradited from the UK, has been found guilty of terrorism offenses and for providing material support to al Qaeda-linked organizations in Yemen and Afghanistan sending men to establish an al-Qaeda training camp in Oregon. Unfortunately, he cannot receive the death penalty as a condition required by the UK for his extradition.
Hamza – who had already claimed decades of disability benefit – cost British taxpayers millions of pounds fighting his extradition to the US but in 2012 the European Court of Human Rights ruled it could go ahead. Hamza, also known as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa headed the Finsbury Park Mosque in the 1990s, reportedly attended by 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid.
A jury sitting half-a-mile from Ground Zero convicted the hate preacher of all 11 charges after a five-week trial. The jury of eight men and four women took just 11 hours – spread out over two days – to reach their verdict on the complex case, which is likely to see Hamza end up in jail for life.
The conviction marks the end of a relentless ten-year mission by the US authorities to extradite Hamza, who only has one eye and stumps instead of hands. He cost British taxpayers millions of pounds resisting American justice and went all the way to the European Court of Human Rights but lost his case and was extradited to New York in 2012.
The jury at Manhattan’s Federal Court agreed with the prosecution claims that Hamza, 56, was a ‘trainer of terrorists’ who recruited and indoctrinated young men at the Finsbury Park Mosque as part of his global empire.
In his opening statement Edward Kim, Assistant District Attorney for the Southern District of New York, also said that Hamza used the cover of religion to ‘hide in plain sight’ under the noses of the British authorities for years. Hamza was convicted of 11 counts of criminal conduct related to the taking of 16 hostages in Yemen in 1998 that left three Britons and an Australian dead.
He was also found guilty of advocating violent jihad in Afghanistan in 2001 and conspiring to establish a jihad training camp in Bly, Oregon, between June 2000 and December 2001.
During the trial Hamza’s defence team tried to claim that the prosecution case, which included videos of his fiery sermons at the Finsbury Park Mosque, was just about ‘words, not deeds’. They portrayed him as an ‘independent thinker’ who was ‘on his own island’. They admitted the jury might not like some of things that Hamza said but defence lawyer Joshua Dratel told them: ‘These are views, not acts. This is expression, not crimes.’
In his testimony Hamza did little to enamour himself with the jury when he brazenly said that even today he loves Osama bin Laden and that he thought 9/11 was a good thing.