Demands of Yemen & USA to extradite him rejected:Abu Hamza to be tried in UK [Archives:2004/782/Front Page]

October 18 2004

By Yemen Times & Reuters
Yemen's continuous demands to have the Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri extradited to the country for terrorist charges was rejected, as Britain will charge him with terrorist offences, also putting on hold U.S. attempts to extradite him over a 1998 hostage-taking in Yemen.
Prosecutors and police on Friday said only that a decision had been taken on whether to charge Abu Hamza.
But a source familiar with the case confirmed to Reuters that prosecutors had advised he should be charged in Britain.
The outspoken cleric, who has preached in support of Osama bin Laden, is already in British jail after the United States began legal steps to extradite him. The United States has indicted him on 11 counts including having a role in the 1998 hostage-taking in Yemen in which four people died.
The cleric, who has one eye and a steel hook after being wounded in Afghanistan fighting Soviet forces, was arrested under a U.S. warrant in May. But in August Britain launched its own probe to see whether it could mount a case against him.
A full five-day extradition hearing was due to start on October 19th but would have to be postponed until after any case raised in Britain is answered, officials have said.
Abu Hamza is wanted in Yemen on charges of being involved in terrorist activities while being based in Britain. He is believed to have participated in the kidnapping of 17 foreign tourists in Yemen six years ago. Four of the hostages were killed during a rescue attempt carried out by the Yemeni army.
British Home Secretary David Blunkett has said that Britain would not send Abu Hamza to Yemen because he could possibly face the death penalty. Britain has a ban on the death penalty and sending suspects to countries that apply capital punishment.
If Abu Hamza is extradited to the United States, he will face an 11-count indictment. Along with being connected to the kidnapping in Yemen, Abu Hamza is accused of trying to put together a terrorist training camp in Oregon in 1999. He is also accused of recruiting at least one man to an Al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and providing material support to Al-Qaeda in 1999 and 2000. It is believed that Abu Hamza, who was born in Egypt as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa and holds a British passport, was the spiritual leader of Richard Reid who tried to detonate a shoe bomb on a flight from Paris to Miami in 2001. It is also believed that Abu Hamza had an association with Zacarias Moussaoui who is being tried in a US federal court on terrorist charges.
The Yemeni government had asked the British government to extradite Abu Issa Al-Hindi, also known as Bilal, for being involved in the kidnapping of foreigners in 1998. Al-Hindi was arrested by British officials as a suspected Al-Qaeda member. Yemen authorities have been searching for Al-Hindi for the last five years.
When Abu Hamza was sent to a high-security prison in London last May, the Yemeni government demanded his extradition. Director General of the Ministry of Interior Mohieddine Al-Dabi said that the government was pushing for Abu Hamza to be sent to Yemen and stand trial for his connection to the kidnappings in 1998.