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US court finds cleric guilty of terror


A US federal court in New York City has found an Egyptian-born Islamic cleric guilty on charges of kidnapping and supporting terrorism around the world.

A jury of eight men and four women on Monday found Abu Hamza al-Masri, 56, guilty of all of the 11 charges against him, including kidnapping in connection with the 1998 abduction of 16 Western tourists in Yemen.

Prosecutors cited speeches and taped interviews to show that he conspired to aid terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda. The former imam of a London mosque, whose real name is Mustafa Kamal Mustafa, has denied the charges, saying that he has never supported terrorists.

The former cleric was also accused of trying to set up a terrorist training camp in the western US state of Oregon in 1999. He is scheduled to be sentenced on September 9 and the verdict could carry a possible life sentence.

Abu Hamza, who lost both hands and the sight in one eye during an accidental explosion in Pakistan two decades ago, was arrested in 2004 in Britain at Washington’s request and sentenced by a British court to seven years in prison for preaching racial hatred. He was extradited to the US in October 2012.

Abu Hamza’s attorney, Jeremy Schneider, says the court ruling was a disappointment. Schneider dismissed the ruling as a “quantity of irrelevant evidence,” and argued that his client was being tried for “his words in general, not his deeds.”

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