UK & World News
Abu Hamza Declares His 'Love' For Bin Laden
Extradited British terror suspect Abu Hamza has told a New York court he had to "compete in the language of radicalism" to be influential during his time as a cleric at a London mosque.
He described London in the mid to late '90s as "Londonistan", an attractive place for dissidents and extremists, all competing to grab the attention of young Muslims.
Hamza, who served years in a UK prison for using his sermons to incite murder and racial hatred, said his public persona allowed him to gain followers.
He described how a young man might come to him and say: "I want to be a suicide bomber", which Hamza said he would try to de-escalate by saying something like: "Ok, good intention... but let's talk about the specifics."
The former cleric also described being called to work at a mosque in Luton so he could use his influence to smooth over community tensions there.
He told the court, which is less than a mile from Ground Zero, that he had a personal "love" for Osama Bin Laden, even though he distanced himself from al Qaeda and its motivations.
It followed an intensive period of testimony, in which he twice broke down while describing the massacre of Muslims in Bosnia.
The court was forced to take a break when he started crying and was unable to continue.
He also told the court that he lost his hands and eye in an accident while handling liquid explosives for the Pakistani military.
He said he was working on a road construction project in Lahore, and joked that there were many rumours circulating about what happened, including having them amputated for being caught stealing in Saudi Arabia.
It was day two of Abu Hamza's testimony in his own defence, part of an attempt to offer an alternative view of a man accused by the prosecution of exporting violent extremism from his base in London.
But it didn't all go as planned.
When asked if he had participated in any fighting in Afghanistan in the early '90s, Hamza said "I wish I had", and eventually admitted he had shot a "couple of bullets" toward the "communist regime" there.
He also spoke about threatening jihad on the streets of London if the UK were to go to war in Iraq.
He said: "People should think before they allow their politicians to drag them in to a bloody muddy war."
Hamza was extradited to the US in 2012 after a lengthy legal battle.
He is charged with 11 terrorism-related counts, including conspiring to kidnap Americans in Yemen, setting up a terror training camp in Oregon, and providing support to al Qaeda and the Taliban.
He denies the charges against him.
If found guilty he faces life in prison.