Trial begins for radical UK Muslim cleric al-Masri

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January 12, 2006 00:51
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Radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri encouraged his followers to kill non-Muslims and Jews in sermons that were recorded on tapes found in his home after his arrest, prosecutors said Wednesday. 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 the Finsbury Park Mosque, which has been linked to terrorist suspects, including alleged September 11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid. British authorities have charged 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. The book included instructions on how to make explosives and carry out assassinations, Perry told the jury of eight men and four women. Masri, 47, has pleaded innocent to the charges. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Masri - Britain's highest-profile Islamic radical - 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 training camp in Oregon; conspiring to take hostages in Yemen and facilitating training in Afghanistan. Under British law, the charges he faces in the United Kingdom take precedence over the US case.

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