US judge to sentence British preacher Abu Hamza

8th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

British hate preacher Abu Hamza, convicted on 11 counts of terrorism and kidnapping, will likely face the rest of his life behind bars when sentenced by a US judge on Friday.

The imam, blind in one eye and a double-hand amputee, became a tabloid bogeyman in Britain for preaching vitriolic, anti-American sermons at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London.

Judge Katherine Forrest is scheduled to sentence the 56-year-old at 10 am (1500 GMT) in the same Manhattan courtroom where he was found guilty eight months ago on May 19 after a four-week trial.

He confessed on the stand to loving Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden and compared himself to Irish republican leader Gerry Adams.

It took the jury just 12 hours to convict him of facilitating the 1998 abduction of 16 Western tourists in Yemen, providing material support to Al-Qaeda, assisting the Taliban and sending terror recruits to Afghanistan.

Abu Hamza, whose full name is Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, was found guilty of providing the kidnappers with a satellite phone, acting as an intermediary and dispensing advice by telephone from home.

Four of the kidnapped tourists were killed.

He was also convicted of trying to set up a terror training camp in Oregon in 1999 and of promoting violent, global jihad.

Prosecutors are seeking a life-sentence, saying Abu Hamza "waged a global war of jihad" from his base in London and sent men to US soil to learn how to kill.

Defense lawyers want a sentence less than life and for him to be sent to a prison hospital, not the supermax jail in Colorado where the United States imprisons its most dangerous terrorists.

In documents filed Monday, they asked the court to accord him a "home health aide," shower, toilet and sink suited to the needs of an amputee, in accommodations approved by an occupational therapist.

During the trial, Abu Hamza denied all the charges, but he acknowledged occasionally using strong words in his sermons.

The Egyptian-born father of nine, an engineer by training, joined Finsbury Park mosque in 1997, where he preached vitriolic sermons, in particular against the United States.

He was arrested by British police in 2004 at Washington's request and sentenced to seven years in jail in 2006 for inciting murder and racial hatred, before being extradited to the United States in 2012.

Campaigners will likely seize on the sentencing as further proof that terror cases can be handled effectively in US civilian courts as pressure builds to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

© 2015 AFP

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