Abu Hamza evidence 'overwhelming' jurors told
A federal prosecutor Wednesday urged a New York jury to convict Islamist cleric Abu Hamza on kidnapping and terrorism charges, insisting in closing arguments the evidence against him was "simply overwhelming."
"The real Abu Hamza is not the man you see now in 2014," said assistant US attorney Ian MacGinley. "The real Abu Hamza is guilty. Don't let the passage of time dismiss what he did."
Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, Abu Hamza's real name, was extradited from Britain in October 2012 to stand trial on 11 counts of kidnapping and terrorism.
Blind in one eye and with no hands, the 56-year-old defendant is the ex-imam of the Finsbury Park mosque in north London.
As Abu Hamza, a fiery and influential preacher, he became one of the main figures of "Londonistan," the Islamist network based in the British capital during the 1990s.
The charges against him pre-date the 9/11 attacks on New York and include the 1998 abduction of 16 Western tourists in Yemen, four of whom were killed in a military rescue operation.
He is also accused of trying to set up a terrorist training camp in the United States in 1999, and of promoting "violent jihad" on a global scale.
Among the charges against him are providing material support to Al-Qaeda, assisting the Taliban and sending terror recruits to Afghanistan.
He faces life in prison if convicted and denies all the charges.
"The evidence is simply overwhelming," MacGinley contended in his two and a half hour closing arguments.
The prosecution presented documents, photographs, videos and tape recordings to support their case.
"He jumped on opportunities around the globe to support jihad. In Yemen, in Afghanistan, in the US," MacGinley said of Abu Hamza.
He described the Briton as "the boss, the leader" who persuaded his followers to join the holy war against the infidels.
"This man is a skillful speaker. He wants to run from his choices," he cautioned the jury.
Defense lawyer Jeremy Schneider dismissed what he said was the "quantity of irrelevant evidence," and said Abu Hamza was being tried for "his words in general, not his deeds."
"He's guilty of supporting women, children, schools," he said. "He's not an Al-Qaeda guy."
He also questioned whether the cleric could get a fair trial "in the shadow of the World Trade Center," the Twin Towers brought down in flames on September 11, 2001 by airliners commandeered by Al-Qaeda hijackers.
© 2014 AFP