British cleric sentenced to life in prison on terror charges
A 56-year old British cleric has been sentenced to life in prison by a court here after being convicted of 11 terror-related charges, including providing material support to Al Qaeda and conspiring to establish a terrorist training camp in the US.
Abu Hamza, also known as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, was extradited from the UK to New York in October 2012 and was found guilty on 11 counts in May last year following a four-week jury trial.
US District Judge Katherine Forrest described his conduct as “barbaric, misguided and wrong”.
Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said Hamza’s “blood-soaked journey from cleric to convict, from Imam to inmate, is now complete.”
According to the evidence presented at trial, one-eyed, handless Hamza facilitated violent jihad in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001.
In November 2000, he requested a co-conspirator Earnest James Ujaama to escort one of his followers Feroz Abassi from London to Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, a commander at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan.
Ujaama and Abassi travelled from London to Pakistan and then separately entered Afghanistan.
In addition, from the spring of 2000 through late 2001, Hamza provided goods and services to the Taliban by directing Ujaama to deliver money to Taliban-controlled parts of Afghanistan.
Ujaama was arrested in 2002 and testified against Hamza as a cooperating witness for the Government.
Hamza also conspired to create a terrorist training camp in Oregon in 1999 to support Al Qaeda.
The primary purpose of the Oregon camp was to provide various types of terrorist training, including weapons training.
In late November 1999, at Hamza’s direction, two of his followers Oussama Abdullah Kassir and Haroon Rashid Aswat traveled from London to Oregon to assist in setting up the camp.
Kassir brought with him to the camp a manual on the use of sarin nerve gas and letters of appreciation to Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Hamza.
Aswat subsequently was present at an Al Qaeda guest house in Pakistan.
Hamza also participated in a fatal hostage-taking in Yemen in December 1998, when hostage-takers stormed a caravan of sport utility vehicles carrying 16 tourists, including two US citizens, and took the tourists hostage by force.