Daily Israel Report

Al Qaeda Terrorist Convicted on Terror Charges in US Court

Infamous, hook-handed Al Qaeda terrorist Abu Hamza al-Masri found guilty of conspiring to build training camp in Oregon.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 5/19/2014, 10:07 PM / Last Update: 5/19/2014, 10:58 PM

Hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri
Hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri
Reuters

Al Qaeda terrorist and radical London-based Islamist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri has been found guilty on multiple charges of terrorism in a US court. 

Prosecutors at the court in New York said Hamza - who was tried as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa - assisted the kidnappers of 16 tourists in Yemen in 1998 and attempted to build a terrorist training camp in Oregon.

Hamza is also infamous for his activities in London, where prosecutors say he tried to build a foreign base for Islamist activities, using the mosque as a religious cover. 

Hamza was convicted on eleven criminal counts, according to the Telegraph - and now faces the possibility of being sent to the "Supermax" maximum-security prison in Colorado, famous for housing other terrorists.

The jury, eight women and four men, gave the verdict just blocks away from the September 11, 2001 attacks.

A judge will sentence him at a yet-unannounced date. 

Flies to a terrorist's web

Abu Hamza has gained a measure of infamy in the US and UK over the past decade, making headlines since first being detained in 2004.

He has been directly linked to several well-known terrorists, according to the Telegraph - including Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a jetliner with a shoe bomb, and Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the masterminds behind the September 11 attacks. Both men are already serving life sentences in "Supermax." 

Abu Hamza has also been linked, if loosely, to Saajid Badat, 35, who has admitted to extensive involvement with Al Qaeda and even researched Jewish terror targets to plan attacks in 2001. 

Last year, it was revealed that French intelligence had targeted Abu Hamza for a potential hit, out of frustration with growing European indifference to Islamist terrorism.

The French suspected Abu Hamza of having links to the terrorists responsible for the 1995 Paris Metro bombings; an elaborate assassination plot which would have blamed neo-Nazis for Abu Hamza's murder was eventually aborted. 

The French intelligence agency also apparently planned to "take out" other senior British Islamists, according to the report.

Justice served

On Monday, the jury convicted Hamza of helping to oversee a Yemeni hostage-taking crisis in 1998 that resulted in the deaths of three British tourists and an Australian.

Islamic rebels took the hostages to negotiate a prisoner swap with five detained British Muslims, including Hamza's own stepson. 

He was also found guilty of conspiring to establish a jihad training camp in Bly, Oregon, between June 2000 and December 2001, according to the Daily Mail, and advocating jihad in Afghanistan in August 2001. 

Abu Hamza was detained in the UK in 2004; he was later convicted of inciting racial hatred and soliciting murder in 2006. Six years later, he was extradited to the US after a protracted legal battle. 

The terrorist has consistently denied being involved in terrorism and had pleaded "not guilty" to all charges.

Abu Hamza did nothing to uphold this claim, however - telling the jury that he loved Osama Bin Laden, even now, and thought the September 11 attacks "were a good thing." 

Abu Hamza’s defense team tried the dubious strategy of showing the terrorist as a man of "words, not deeds" and as an "independent thinker" living "on his own island."

Defense lawyer Joshua Dratel insisted that his fiery hate speeches were "expression, not crimes" and "views, not acts." 

Abu Hamza, now 56, was born on August 21, 1958 in Alexandria, Egypt. The terrorist gave his own life story during his testimony, much of which is recounted in the Daily Mail. He moved to Britain in 1979 and gained citizenship when he married his first wife. 

He studied engineering at Brunel and Brighton Universities and worked at Sandhurst Military Academy, according to the daily - where Prince William and Prince Harry both attended. 

Hamza converted to Islam after working as a nightclub bouncer and strip club owner in Soho; he has now been married three times and is father to eight children. 

Abu Hamza had both arms blown off in 1999, and is blind in one eye; he attributed the injuries to an "explosives accident."