British imam Abu Hamza convicted of US terror charges

The move paves the way for what will likely be a life sentence for the London preacher who was convicted on all counts after a four-week trial.

NEW YORK // A New York jury convicted British preacher Abu Hamza on 11 kidnapping and terrorism charges on Monday, paving the way for a judge to impose what will almost certainly be a life sentence.

The hook-handed imam showed no reaction as the guilty verdict was returned on all counts following a four-week trial.

Judge Katherine Forrest will return to the Manhattan courtroom on September 9 to sentence Abu Hamza, 56, and wrap up the second high-profile terrorism conviction in New York in three months.

Campaigners will seize on the trial as further proof that US terror cases could be tried more effectively in civilian courts as pressure builds to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

In March, another New York jury found Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and former Al Qaeda spokesman, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, guilty in a lightning-quick trial a year after his arrest.

“With each efficiently delivered guilty verdict against a top Al Qaeda-linked figure, the debate over how to best seek justice in these cases is quietly being put to rest,” said attorney general Eric Holder.

Manhattan’s top federal prosecutor, US attorney Preet Bharara, added: “These trials demonstrate that in an American civilian courtroom, the American people and all the victims of terrorism can be vindicated without sacrificing our principles.”

Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, better known in Britain as Abu Hamza al-Masri, was charged with the 1998 abduction of Western tourists in Yemen, providing material support to Al Qaeda, assisting the Taliban and sending terror recruits to Afghanistan.

Of the 16 tourists that were kidnapped, four were killed.

Abu Hamza, an Egyptian-born father-of-nine and an engineer by training, joined Finsbury Park mosque in 1997, where he preached vitriolic sermons, particularly against the United States.

British police arrested him in August 2004 at Washington’s request, and he was sentenced to seven years in jail in 2006 in Britain for inciting murder and racial hatred.

He was extradited to the US in October 2012.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: May 20, 2014 04:00 AM

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