Christian Action Network

Daily Terrorism News; WebPage @ www.ChristianAction.Org

Hamza may go free as witness backs down

(Times Online) ONE of Britain’s most notorious Islamic extremists may be freed from prison as early as next year after an Al-Qaeda “supergrass” said he was no longer prepared to testify against him.

Abu Hamza al-Masri, the hook-handed firebrand who used to preach at Finsbury Park mosque in north London, was expected to be extradited to America for trial on charges including trying to establish a terrorist camp in Oregon.

But in a New York courtroom last week James Ujaama, 41, the key witness against Hamza, appeared to have reneged on a deal to testify against him. The change of heart could lead to the collapse of the American request for Hamza’s extradition now going through British courts.

Eight of the 11 counts on which the case rests depend on Ujaama’s evidence. Hamza faces a possible total of 100 years in prison in America.

The Egyptian-born cleric, 49, is serving a seven-year sentence in Belmarsh prison, southeast London, for soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred. But because he has already spent more than three years in prison and on remand, he will qualify for parole early next year and will go free if the extradition case collapses.

Hamza’s next extradition hearing is in October. A lawyer close to his case said: “This is a very significant development and it will be brought up in the next court hearing.”

Finsbury Park mosque, under Hamza’s control, was blamed for radicalising some of Britain’s worst extremists, including Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, and Zacarias Moussaoui, sentenced to life for his involvement in the 9/11 plot. At least two of the failed bombers in London on July 21, 2005, also worshipped there.

Hamza was jailed in 2006 after a court heard tapes of his sermons including: “Killing the kafir [infidel] for any reason you can say is okay even if there is no reason for it.”

He is accused by the US of trying to set up a training camp in Bly, Oregon, and providing material support to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. He is also accused of using Finsbury Park mosque as a base for sending recruits to Afghanistan to train for jihad.

Ujaama, a Muslim convert from Seattle, was charged with trying to set up the Oregon camp with Hamza and Haroon Rashid Aswat, another Briton.

Aswat, who is in jail in Britain pending extradition, was arrested at the request of British police in Zambia and questioned for his alleged role in the 2005 London bombings. He has never been charged and denies any involvement in terrorism.

After his arrest in 2003 Ujaama struck a deal with the FBI: he promised to testify against Hamza and Aswat and was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of aiding the Taliban, which left him with a reduced prison sentence.

But last year, while on supervised release, Ujaama fled on a false passport to Belize, where he was arrested last December. On Monday he appeared in court in New York, where the more serious terror-related charges against him were reinstated. He now faces up to 30 years in jail.

According to court transcripts, Ujaama said: “Part of the reason I left the US was to avoid having to . . . give testimony in the criminal matters against Abu Hamza and others.”

The Home Office declined to comment on individual cases, but said: “Any prisoner sentenced for more than four years automatically qualifies for parole after half that term.”

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August 21, 2007 - Posted by | Blogroll, Homeland security, news, personal, politics, random, religion, Terrorism, Terrorism In The U.S., Terrorism News, Uncategorized, War-On-Terror

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