UK & World News

  • 18 April 2014, 8:54

Abu Hamza Was 'Committed To War' - Prosecutor

Abu Hamza, an Islamic preacher on terror trial in New York, "was committed to war" and "hid behind religion", prosecutors have said.

Making his opening statements, the prosecutor, Edward Kim, portrayed Hamza as an enthusiastic supporter of al Qaeda. 

The cleric, 55, was extradited from the UK in 2012 at the end of a protracted legal battle.

"Abu Hamza was not just a preacher of religion," Mr Kim said.

"He was a trainer of terrorists, and he used the cover of religion so he could hide in plain sight in London."

He said: "He was a global exporter of violence and terrorism. His goal was clear, simple, vicious ... to wage war against non-Muslims."

The prosecutor said Hamza supplied satellite phones in 1998 to kidnappers in Yemen who killed four hostages.

He accused Hamza of trying to set up an al Qaeda camp in Oregon in late 1999 and early 2000 before sending at least two men to train at a terror camp in Afghanistan.

The Egyptian-born Hamza, who was indicted under the name Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, denies wrongdoing.

His defence lawyer gave a different account, saying he never harmed Americans and did not participate in any acts charged in the case.

"Please keep your eyes on the evidence and not the rhetoric," Joshua Dratel told the jury.

He said Hamza would testify but cautioned jurors they might not agree with some of his views.

"He said a lot of harsh things," Mr Dratel said. "These are views, not acts. This is expression, not crimes."

The lawyer claimed British intelligence officers repeatedly enlisted Hamza's help to keep situations under control and non-violent.

"He is who he is," Mr Dratel said.

"You're not here to judge his philosophy or his ideology. You're here to judge the evidence."

Hamza was jailed for seven years in Britain for inciting murder and race hate.

He turned London's Finsbury Park Mosque in the 1990s into a training ground for Islamic extremists, attracting men including September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid.

Hamza has one eye and claims to have lost his hands fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Advertisement