Hamza found guilty of terrorism charges after New York trial

Abu Hamza

Abu Hamza

First published in News
Last updated
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AN Egyptian Islamic preacher brought to the United States on charges that he supported terrorism around the world from a London mosque has been found guilty.

Jurors in federal court in New York City returned their verdict today in the case against Abu Hamza.

The verdict came only weeks after another preacher, who served as al-Qaida's spokesman immediately after the September 11 attacks, was convicted.

Prosecutors cited speeches and taped interviews to show that Hamza - tried under the name Mustafa Kamel Mustafa - conspired to aid terrorist organisations, including al-Qaida.

Prosecutors say he aided kidnappers of 16 tourists in Yemen in 1998 and tried to build an al-Qaida training camp in Oregon in 1999.

Among four killed in an ensuing gun battle was Dr Peter Rowe, a 60-year-old maths lecturer at Durham University.

His wife Claire Marston, then an accountancy lecturer at Northumbria University, was badly wounded.

She later recovered and worked at Durham Business School.

Dr Rowe, who was born in Canada, had worked for Durham University for 34 years and was buried in the city. An experienced traveller, he had visited Yemen many times.

His inquest heard that Dr Rowe and Ruth Williamson, a 34-year-old NHS worker from Edinburgh, were shot dead by the hostage-takers as they stood with their arms in the air.

Hamza insisted during testimony that he never supported terrorism.

US Attorney General Eric Holder described the verdict as "a triumph".

Hamza, 55, was accused of providing material support to terrorist groups by enabling hostage takers in the Yemen kidnapping to speak on a satellite phone, by sending men to establish an al-Qaida training camp in Bly, Oregon, and by sending at least one man to training camps in Afghanistan.

He was extradited in 2012 from the UK, where he led London's Finsbury Park Mosque in the 1990s, reportedly attended by both September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid. Hamza denied ever having met them.

Hamza looked straight ahead as the verdict was read out at the federal court in Manhattan.

For much of the past month, jurors watched videotapes and heard audio clips in which Hamza shouted to his followers, telling them non-Muslims could be treated like animals and women and children who were not Muslim could be taken captive.

But they saw a gentler version of Hamza on the witness stand, one who spoke confidently in the tone of a college professor as he insisted he did not engage in acts of terrorism, nor did he aid al-Qaida.

His testimony over four days was derided by Assistant US Attorney Ian McGinley, who told jurors to ignore his lies and concentrate on evidence.

In his closing argument, Mr McGinley read aloud the names of four European tourists who died in 1998 in Yemen after their convoy of cars was overtaken by extremist Islamic kidnappers whom Hamza had given a satellite phone.

Mr McGinley said a guilty verdict would provide a measure of justice for them and another dozen hostages who survived.

"Don't be fooled by his testimony," the prosecutor said. "Don't let the passage of time diminish what he did."

Hamza told the court how he lost both hands and part of his forearms in a 1993 accident when he helped the Pakistani military as a civil engineer.

Two women who were hostages in Yemen also testified.

Margaret Thompson, of Texas, who was shot in the leg in a shootout between Yemeni forces and the kidnappers, limped into the courtroom to describe her harrowing 24-hour ordeal.

Mary Quin, a US citizen who now lives in New Zealand, testified that she escaped one kidnapper by putting her foot against his head and wrestling away his assault rifle after he was knocked to the ground by a bullet.

The court was shown clips of a taped interview Ms Quin conducted with Hamza at his London mosque as she prepared to write a book about the kidnapping.

Mr McGinley told jurors Hamza had boasted to Ms Quin about the kidnappings, saying: "Islamically, it is a good thing."

Mr McGinley said that statement belied Hamza's claims that when he spoke to the lead kidnapper during the crisis, he tried to be a peacemaker.

"No-one who actually tried to be a peacemaker would say to a victim of that kidnapping that it was a good thing," he said.

The prosecutor acknowledged Hamza's speaking skills, saying he was "good with words," but also warned: "Don't buy it."

"The real Abu Hamza is not the man you see in 2014," Mr McGinley added.

Defence attorney Jeremy Schneider warned jurors not to let their judgment be overrun by the emotion of the terrorist acts they heard about repeatedly, including the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors and the September 11 attacks a year later, the memorial for which opened blocks away from the courtroom during the trial.

"The vast majority of the evidence is his words, not his deeds," Mr Schneider said, adding that his client's statements were taken out of context.

"Many times, his words aren't connected to what he did," Mr Schneider said.

Comments (6)

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8:09pm Mon 19 May 14

NOTODDEN says...

Good - at long last
Good - at long last NOTODDEN
  • Score: 7

9:29pm Mon 19 May 14

thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth says...

About time this terrorist piece of sh1t got what was coming to him. All those who hung on his every word should also be rounded up.

He lived a free and somewhat privalleged and protected life in this country, which is absolutely disgusting but not surprising knowing how soft we are. Well done the Americans.
About time this terrorist piece of sh1t got what was coming to him. All those who hung on his every word should also be rounded up. He lived a free and somewhat privalleged and protected life in this country, which is absolutely disgusting but not surprising knowing how soft we are. Well done the Americans. thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth
  • Score: 10

9:32am Tue 20 May 14

oliviaden6 says...

All well and good that he has been found guilty, BUT it Beggers Belief that HMG did not put him on trial years ago, spineless HMG. The bigger worry of this is how many more of these so called terrorists are waiting in the wings to fill his boots. Now we have done this once lets get rid of the rest of the individuals who spout terrorism, there are a few who come to mind who need kicking out and bugger their human rights, lets have the letter of the LAW and Justice and common sense
All well and good that he has been found guilty, BUT it Beggers Belief that HMG did not put him on trial years ago, spineless HMG. The bigger worry of this is how many more of these so called terrorists are waiting in the wings to fill his boots. Now we have done this once lets get rid of the rest of the individuals who spout terrorism, there are a few who come to mind who need kicking out and bugger their human rights, lets have the letter of the LAW and Justice and common sense oliviaden6
  • Score: 6

12:27pm Tue 20 May 14

loan_star says...

Good on the Americans, about time he got his just deserts. Typical that hes been living here at our expense for years though!
Good on the Americans, about time he got his just deserts. Typical that hes been living here at our expense for years though! loan_star
  • Score: 4

2:29pm Tue 20 May 14

durhamchap says...

oliviaden6 wrote:
All well and good that he has been found guilty, BUT it Beggers Belief that HMG did not put him on trial years ago, spineless HMG. The bigger worry of this is how many more of these so called terrorists are waiting in the wings to fill his boots. Now we have done this once lets get rid of the rest of the individuals who spout terrorism, there are a few who come to mind who need kicking out and bugger their human rights, lets have the letter of the LAW and Justice and common sense
The government have been trying to get this man deported for years but our wonderful judiciary always seemed to block this or some shyster lawyer appealed and this had to be heard again after further delays and further appeals.From what I saw on the news the Americans were able to introduce evidence that the British courts would not accept.
The question still is what did Tony Blair have to do with him being in this country in the first place - suggestions he was in the pocket of the security services ?
[quote][p][bold]oliviaden6[/bold] wrote: All well and good that he has been found guilty, BUT it Beggers Belief that HMG did not put him on trial years ago, spineless HMG. The bigger worry of this is how many more of these so called terrorists are waiting in the wings to fill his boots. Now we have done this once lets get rid of the rest of the individuals who spout terrorism, there are a few who come to mind who need kicking out and bugger their human rights, lets have the letter of the LAW and Justice and common sense[/p][/quote]The government have been trying to get this man deported for years but our wonderful judiciary always seemed to block this or some shyster lawyer appealed and this had to be heard again after further delays and further appeals.From what I saw on the news the Americans were able to introduce evidence that the British courts would not accept. The question still is what did Tony Blair have to do with him being in this country in the first place - suggestions he was in the pocket of the security services ? durhamchap
  • Score: 3

6:22am Wed 21 May 14

Chippy70 says...

And we are still housing and feeding his creed to the tune of £ millions while our own people are having to visit food banks.
And we are still housing and feeding his creed to the tune of £ millions while our own people are having to visit food banks. Chippy70
  • Score: 1

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