London preacher jailed for terrorism

A British Muslim preacher has been jailed for seven years after being found guilty of 11 terrorism charges, including soliciting murder and threatening behaviour.

    Abu Hamza could now face further charges in the US

    Abu Hamza al-Masri (also called Mustafa Kamel Mustafa) 47, who was the leader of the Finsbury Park mosque in North London, could have faced a maximum sentence of life in jail.

    He was charged with 15 counts, including nine of soliciting the murder of others, "namely a person or persons who did not believe in the Islamic faith". Three of the charges added: "in particular Jewish people".

    He also faced four counts of using threatening or abusive language designed to stir racial hatred, one count of possessing threatening or abusive recordings and one count of possessing a document likely to be useful in terrorism - the Encyclopaedia of the Afghani Jihad.

    The jury of seven men and five women at the Central Criminal Court in London found Abu Hamza guilty on seven of the nine charges of soliciting murder.

    He was convicted on two charges of stirring racial hatred and was also found guilty of possessing a terrorist document and threatening or abusive recordings.

    Though asked to stand for the reading of the verdict, he sat down as soon as the first guilty verdict was pronounced. He had denied all the charges.

    US charges

    The trial, which began on 11 January, was watched closely in Washington because the Egyptian-born cleric is still wanted by the US on charges of trying to set up a "terrorist training camp" in Oregon state.

    Under British law, the domestic charges took precedence over the extradition case, but al-Masri could now be sent to the US for prosecution there.

    Al-Masri, who lost an eye and both his hands fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan, was head preacher at the Finsbury Park mosque from the late 1990s until 2003, when he was removed by the community's leaders. 

    The mosque has been linked to a number of terrorism suspects, including alleged September 11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui and the so-called "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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