Terrorist preacher Abu Hamza sues US over ‘cruel’ prison conditions

Former imam claims he has been left to tear open food packages with his rotten teeth

File Photos: Abu Hamza al-Masri, is seen addressing the sixth annual rally for Islam in Trafalgar Square, London in this August 25, 2002 file photograph Reuters 
File Photos: Abu Hamza al-Masri, is seen addressing the sixth annual rally for Islam in Trafalgar Square, London in this August 25, 2002 file photograph Reuters 

Extremist preacher Abu Hamza is taking legal action against the US over “cruel” conditions in the maximum security prison where he is jailed.

The Egypt-born cleric, who delivered hate-filled speeches at Finsbury Park mosque in north London, has complained of inhuman treatment in solitary confinement in the United States.

In a civil lawsuit, Abu Hamza claims he has been reduced to tearing food packages open with his rotten teeth after being deprived of his hooks or any other prosthesis for his arms.

The Al Qaeda imam has also said he has been deprived of sunlight in his isolated cell and explained he’d launched a 10-day hunger strike over the treatment, according to The Sunday Times.

In the suit filed against US Attorney General William Barr, Abu Hamza said he was suffering from stress and anxiety because of the “inhuman and degrading” conditions inside ADX Florence, a supermax prison in Colorado.

He has been incarcerated inside the Rocky Mountains prison after being extradited to the United States on terrorist charges in 2012 and given a life sentence without parole.

Abu Hamza, whose real name is Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, was convicted in 2014 of facilitating satellite communications between kidnappers during a 1998 attack that killed four tourists in Yemen, of supporting plans to open an Al Qaeda training camp in Bly, Oregon, and sending someone to an Afghanistan training camp.

Abu Hamza led London's Finsbury Park Mosque, reportedly attended by September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. Reuters
Abu Hamza led London's Finsbury Park Mosque, reportedly attended by September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. Reuters

In the 1990s, he led London's Finsbury Park Mosque, reportedly attended by September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid.

In particular, Abu Hamza has said much of his discomfort in prison comes from a lack of consideration for his disabilities. He has no forearms and is blind in one eye.

Because he does not have a lavatory adapted for his disability, the 62-year-old has said he often soils his clothes. He has said his arm stumps also bleed when he uses the prison’s washbasin taps.

“Plaintiff lost three teeth just to the opening of pouches,” the court documents detail, describing how the Abu Hamza opens food wrappers. “All front teeth are worn out and painful. Some nerves can be seen.”

Inmates like Abu Hamza in at the Colorado prison are kept in “cage-like” cells for up to 23 hours per day, the lawsuit details. They are banned from contact with other inmates and restricted from other activities.

Abu Hamza has said he has not seen his family since he arrived in the United States and has outlined a number of issues that he has said amount to “cruel and unusual conditions in prolonged, continuous, dangerous solitary confinement since 2012” in the lawsuit.

Once cell where he was held, Abu Hamza described as having no natural light and measuring 8ft by 16ft.

He has also, because of his difficulties eating, been forced to forgo halal meals for the prison’s Jewish, kosher option. He characterised this dietary switch as “religiously stressful”.

The defendants in the case, which include the head of the US prison service as well as Mr Barr, have said the lawsuit is without merit and should be rejected by the justice system.

They have called the complaint “so ambiguous [the] defendants cannot reasonably prepare a response”.

Updated: August 30, 2020 04:28 AM

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