Britain charges Muslim preacher

British authorities have charged an outspoken Muslim preacher, Abu Hamza al-Masri, with urging followers to kill non-Muslims.

    The UK government stripped al-Masri of citizenship in 2003

    Al-Masri appeared at London's Belmarsh Magistrates Court on Tuesday where prosecutors read out all 16 charges, though only one falls under anti-terror legislation.

     

    His indictment pre-empts a US extradition bid, where he faces 11 terrorist charges.

     

    A lawyer acting on Washington's behalf asked Judge Timothy Workman to suspend the extradition case until the British charges were dealt with.

      

    Charge details

     

    The British indictment includes 10 charges of soliciting or encouraging people to murder a person or people who did not believe in the Islamic faith.

      

    Prosecutors said the incitement to murder was contained in speeches recorded on tape to be used as evidence. Four of the 10 charges specify that al-Masri urged the killing of Jews.

      

    Al-Masri's lawyer: The media had
    details of charges before she did

    The only terrorist charge, under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, accuses him of possessing a book called the Encyclopedia of the Afghani Jihad.

     

    The accusation relates to the alleged possession of a document containing information "of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".

      

    The preacher also faces four charges of using "threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour" to stir up racial hatred and one count of possessing threatening, abusive or insulting recordings.

     

    Victorian law

      

    Al-Masri was remanded in custody until a hearing at London's Old Bailey court on 26 October.

     

    Al-Masri, a native of Egypt who is fighting the government's decision to strip him of his British citizenship, is also wanted in Yemen.

     

    It is unclear whether the main incitement to murder charges were brought under the Offences Against the Person Act, a Victorian law carrying a maximum term of life which had lain almost unused until last year when it was employed against another Muslim preacher.

     

    Jamaican-born Muslim cleric Shaikh Abd Allah al-Faisal, a former supporter of Osama bin Ladin, was jailed for seven years in Britain after being convicted under the act.

    SOURCE: AFP


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