Radical cleric goes on trial in UK for incitement to murder

Abu Hamza al-Masri also wanted in US for conspiring to support al-Qaida.

January 11, 2006 11:11
1 minute read.

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Prosecutors were laying out their opening arguments Wednesday at the trial of radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, accused of fomenting racial hatred and inciting his followers to kill non-Muslims. Britain's highest-profile Islamic radical was standing trial at London's Central Criminal Court before a jury of eight men and four women. The one-eyed preacher, who wears hooks in place of hands, has been held at a high-security London jail since May 2004, when he was arrested because he was wanted in the United States. British authorities have charged al-Masri, whose real name is Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, with multiple counts of inciting the killing of Jews and other non-Muslims, using threatening or abusive language designed to stir racial hatred and possessing a terrorism-related document, the "Encyclopedia of the Afghani Jihad." Al-Masri, 47, has pled innocent to all charges. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. The trial is expected to last at least three weeks. The preacher is wanted in the United States on an 11-count indictment from 2004 that charges him with conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaida by establishing a terrorist training camp in Oregon, conspiring to take hostages in Yemen and facilitating violent jihad training in Afghanistan. Under British law, the charges he faces in the United Kingdom take precedence over the US case. The Egyptian-born cleric - who says he lost his eye and hands while fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s - was a former head preacher at London's Finsbury Park mosque, which has been linked to terrorist suspects, including alleged September 11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid.

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