NEW YORK - The fate of London imam Abu Hamza al-Masri is in the hands of a New York jury, which began deliberating on Thursday on whether to convict him on terrorism-related charges.

The one-eyed, handless preacher faces 11 criminal counts, including assisting Yemeni militants who took a group of Western tourists hostage in 1998. US prosecutors have also charged him with sending followers to Oregon to establish a training camp and to Afghanistan to assist al-Qaida and the Taliban.

If convicted of the top charges, he faces life in prison. The 12 jurors began their discussions shortly after US District Judge Katherine Forrest finished delivering a 115-page jury instruction.

The Egyptian-born Abu Hamza, 56, took the stand in his own defense during the four-week trial, acknowledging he used inflammatory language in speeches, interviews and sermons but denying he had any involvement in criminal conspiracies.

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