NEWS

Islamist Cleric Can be Extradited to the U.S.

By Matthew Harwood

A British judge has ruled that  firebrand Islamist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri can be extradited to the United States to stand trial for his alleged crimes.

Via the Times of London, Hamza:

... faces a US indictment listing 11 offences including attempting to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and sending money and recruits to assist the Taleban and al-Qaeda.

The most serious charges allege that he assisted a gang of kidnappers in Yemen, who abducted a party of Western tourists in 1998. Abu Hamza bought the kidnappers a satellite phone and allegedly gave them advice and assistance during the kidnap, in which four people, including three Britons, were shot dead.

The ultimate decision to extradite now rests with the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. Hamza will have multiple appeals available to him to fight his extradition. If extradited to the United States and convicted for his alleged involvement in terrorism, Hamza faces 99 years in prison in a supermax facility where he will likely spend 23 hours a day in his cell.

Hamza's defense argued the conditions of his imprisonment in the United States would be a violation of his human rights. District Judge Timothy Workman, while clearly uncomfortable with the likely conditions of Hamza's incarcertation in the United States, disagreed.

The judge said: “While I find these conditions offensive to my sense of propriety in dealing with prisoners, I cannot conclude that in the short term the incarceration in a supermax prison would be incompatible with his Article 3 rights.”

He added: “The gravity and seriousness of these allegations is such that the public interest in honouring the extradition treaty outweighs the inevitable interference with the defendant’s family life.”

Hamza's arrest was the first under a 2004 streamlined extradition treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom. His extradiction to the United States was delayed when the Royal Crown Service insisted Hamza be first charged and tried with terrorist incitement in the United Kingdom. Hamza then used his ailing health to delay his extradition.

Hamza was the former imam of the Finsbury Park mosque where he used his platform and position to call for jihad against the West and incited worshippers to commit terrorist acts, including the murder of Jews and non-Muslims. Both Richard Reid, the notorious failed shoebomber, and Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged 20th hijacker on 9-11, reportedly attended Hamza's fiery sermons at Finsbury Park mosque.

 

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