Abu Hamza al-Masri
Abu Hamza al-Masri was extradited to the United States from Britain on October 5, 2012. During his preliminary hearing in a Manhattan federal court, he pleaded not guilty to charges relating to an attempt to establish a militant training camp in Oregon, promoting violence in Afghanistan and hostage-taking in Yemen.
British Cleric Guilty of Inciting Followers to Murder
A London court has sentenced one of the most radical Islamic clerics in Britain to seven years in prison on charges of inciting followers to murder Jews and other non-Muslims and encouraging racial hatred.
Abu Hamza al-Masri, 47, was found guilty on February 7, 2006, on 11 charges, including six counts of soliciting others at public meetings to murder Jews and other non-Muslims, three counts of fomenting racial hatred, one count of possessing threatening sound recordings and one count of possessing the “Encyclopedia of Afghani Jihad,” a terror manual that contains instructions for making explosives and operating a terror cell.
During Masri’s trial, which began on January 11, 2006, in London Central Criminal Court, prosecutors played a series of speeches Masri had given, in which he incited his followers to murder. In one of the speeches, Masri asks Muslims “to bleed the enemies of Allah anywhere, by any means….[If] you can’t do it by nuclear weapon, you do it by the kitchen knife, no other solution. You cannot do it by chemical weapons, you have to do it by mice poison.”
Under cross-examination, Masri told the court he did not believe in the state of Israel. He also said Jews in Britain and the U.S. control the media and the “money supply.” Masri previously described the Columbia space shuttle disaster in 2003 as “punishment from Allah” because the astronauts were Christian, Hindu and Jewish.
Masri is still wanted in the U.S. on an 11-count indictment from 2004, which charges him with trying to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and assisting in the kidnapping of two Americans and others in Yemen. U.S. authorities sought to extradite Masri, but had to put their case on hold until the British trial concluded.
The Egyptian-born cleric is a former imam at the Finsbury Park Mosque, which previously was frequented by Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber,” and Zacarias Moussaui, the alleged would-be September 11 hijacker. Kamel Bourgass, an Algerian citizen convicted in Britain in a conspiracy to launch chemical attacks with the poison ricin, also stayed for a time at the mosque, which has been raided numerous times by police.
Masri, who became a naturalized British citizen after marrying a British national in 1981, was barred from the mosque by the community’s leaders in 2003 for making inflammatory remarks, but he continued to preach on the streets outside the mosque on Fridays.
Masri, a former nightclub bouncer, became interested in radical Islam after spending time with wounded Mujahideen veterans from Afghanistan who had come to London for treatment. He reportedly met Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, the founder of the Afghan Mujahideen, while undertaking the Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca) in 1987. He then traveled to Afghanistan, where he says he lost his eye and hands (he now has hooks for hands) while fighting Soviet troops. Masri reportedly also traveled to Bosnia to support the Muslims during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
In 1994, Masri established Supporters of Shariah, an organization the U.S. government says was used to “advocate violent jihad against the United States of America and other Western nations.” The Supporters of Shariah Web site encourages followers to support jihad, “the forgotten obligation.” Earnest James Ujaama, sentenced by a federal court in Seattle to two years in prison for conspiring to provide goods and services to the Taliban, designed and maintained the Supporters of Shariah Web site for Masri.
By 1999, Masri sent Ujaama back to the U.S. to start setting up a terrorist training camp in Oregon, according to U.S. court documents. In a fax to Masri, Ujaama wrote that a ranch in Bly should be turned into a jihad camp for weapons, martial arts and combat training. With such training, Ujaama said, “the men in the community would have received enough familiarity with weapons…to fight jihad in Afghanistan.”