British preacher Abu Hamza guilty on US terror charges

British preacher Abu Hamza guilty on US terror charges
Abu Hamza.

NEW YORK - A New York jury convicted British hate preacher Abu Hamza on 11 kidnapping and terrorism charges Monday, opening the way for a judge to impose what will almost certainly be a life sentence.

The hook-handed imam, who became a tabloid bogeyman in Britain after morphing into an anti-American preacher at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, showed no reaction as the guilty verdict was returned on all counts following a four-week trial.

Judge Katherine Forrest will return to the Manhattan courtroom on September 9 to sentence Abu Hamza, 56, and wrap up what was the second high-profile terror trial in New York in three months.

Campaigners will seize on the trial as further proof that US terror cases could be tried more effectively in civilian courts as pressure builds to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

In March, another New York jury found Osama bin Laden's son-in-law and former Al-Qaeda spokesman, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, guilty in a lightning-quick trial a year after his arrest.

"With each efficiently delivered guilty verdict against a top Al-Qaeda-linked figure, the debate over how to best seek justice in these cases is quietly being put to rest," said attorney general Eric Holder.

Manhattan's top federal prosecutor, US attorney Preet Bharara, added: "These trials demonstrate that in an American civilian courtroom, the American people and all the victims of terrorism can be vindicated without sacrificing our principles."

Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, better known in Britain as Abu Hamza al-Masri, was charged with the 1998 abduction of Western tourists in Yemen, providing material support to Al-Qaeda, assisting the Taliban and sending terror recruits to Afghanistan.

Of the 16 tourists that were kidnapped, four were killed.

'Violent jihad' 

It took the 12-member jury just 12 hours over two days to reach the unanimous verdict.

One member of the jury, who did not want to disclose his identity, said they tried to follow the judge's guidelines in reaching a verdict.

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