Despite repeated extradition requests by YemenAbu Hamza faces possible extradition to U.S. [Archives:2007/1103/Local News]

November 19 2007

SANA'A, Nov. 16 ) Abu Hamza Al-Masri could be extradited to the United States to face terrorism charges, including providing support to Al-Qaeda and involvement in a hostage-taking conspiracy in Yemen.

A British court ruled Thursday that radical Muslim cleric Mustafa Kamel, also known as Abu Hamza Al-Masri, 49, can be extradited to the U.S. However, British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith will make the final decision within two months regarding his extradition.

Abu Hamza, who was born in Egypt, currently is serving a seven-year prison term in Britain on charges that included encouraging his followers to kill non-Muslims.

The British court convicted the cleric of possessing items, including a 10-volume “encyclopedia” of Afghan jihad, which the prosecutor described as “a manual for terrorism,” the texts of which discussed how to make explosives, explained assassination methods and detailed the best means of attack.

He further was convicted of possessing video and audio recordings which prosecutors said he intended to distribute to incite racial hatred.

Abu Hamza, who preached outside Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, also is accused of helping to set up a terrorist training camp in the U.S. and helping to fund a jihadist recruit's trip to a terrorist training camp in the Middle East.

His followers included the so-called “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, who was convicted of attempting to ignite a bomb in his shoes on a trans-Atlantic flight, and Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person to be charged in the United States in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Abu Hamza was arrested on an extradition warrant issued by the U.S. government in May 2004, but the process was put on hold while he stood trial in Britain and attempted to appeal his U.K. convictions.

If his extradition is approved, Abu Hamza's jail sentence could be interrupted in order for him to be extradited to and stand trial in the United States, according to Britain's Home Office. If given a prison sentence following a U.S. trial, he would return to England to complete his sentence there before flying back to be imprisoned in the United States.

Yemen has accused Abu Hamza of providing support and resources for a terrorist group called the Aden-Abyan Army, which took 16 tourists hostage in Yemen in 1998. He is said to have spoken to the terrorists before and after the incident.

Three British tourists and one Australian were killed when they were used as human shields during a shoot-out with Yemeni rescuers, it is claimed. For this reason, Yemeni authorities have been requesting Abu Hamza's arrest and extradition since 1999.

Yemen repeatedly has asked the British government for his extradition, but its requests have been denied, with Britain saying it will not extradite Abu Hamza to Yemen because he could possibly face the death penalty. Britain bans both the death penalty and sending suspects to those countries that apply capital punishment.

In 1999, Abu Hamza's son Mohammed Mustafa Kamel was sentenced to three years in prison in Yemen for his involvement in a terrorist bombing campaign when he was 17. He returned to Britain after completing his sentence in 2002.

Abu Hamza, who lost both hands and an eye while working in Afghanistan, likely will be held in a “supermax” prison in the U.S., where inmates are locked up 23 hours a day in cells measuring between 48 square feet and 80 square feet with no natural light, no control over electricity in their cells and no view outside their cells, according to American press. Additionally, they have no contact with other prisoners and no meaningful contact with prison staff.