April 17, 2014


Kim, the prosecutor, told the jury: “In the fall of 1999, two men were sent on a mission, directed to travel halfway round the world to another country. They were sent on that mission by their leader.” That man, Kim said, was Hamza.

They were sent, he said, to a remote compound set a mile back from the nearest road and given money to accomplish their mission. Kim said its purpose was to establish a training camp for terrorism, “a place for men to fight and to kill”.

The compound had nerve gas and explosives, and they learned how to shoot a gun and how to slit a throat, Kim said. The prosecutor told the jury that the two men carried with them letters, one to Bin Laden and one thanking Hamza. He told the jury they would hear evidence showing how Hamza participated in the “terrifying” hostage-taking in Yemen, providing “crucial resources and guidance”.

Kim said the defendant had posted a message to westerners to “stay out of Yemen”, shortly before the hostage-taking. “Abu Hamza did not just post that warning about Yemen. He provided a satellite phone” and paid for additional minutes.

 In 2001, when US soldiers were fighting al-Qaida in Afghanistan, Hamza sent two of his followers, including Feroz Abbasi, a British national who was detained at Guantánamo Bay, to fight. He told the jury they would hear from an al-Qaida operative via video link about Abbasi in Afghanistan.

Kim said the jury would also hear from two women in Bly, into whose community Hamza sent two of his followers in the middle of the night. The two men, Kim said, carried money Hamza had given them to set up the camp, and a CD with instructions on how to make bombs. They dressed in black, carried knives, and one of them was so committed he brought over his wife and family.

 Kim told them they would hear from two of the rescued hostages, including Mary Quinn, who managed to escape into the desert and who travelled to London two years later to interview Hamza at the mosque about the kidnapping. “Abu Hamza said it was justified.” Dratel, Hamza's defence counsel, said his client did not participate in any of the crimes, “not in Yemen, not in Oregon, not in Afghanistan”.

 Dratel said he “he never set foot in the US” until he was extradited. Hamza was extradited to the US from Britain after an eight-year battle in 2012, following his conviction and imprisonment in the UK for inciting his followers to kill non-Muslims.

Dratel described his client as “his own man” and “an independent thinker” who was concerned about oppressed Muslim communities around the world.

He said Hamza's controversial views, which he had a right to hold, were not a crime. Dratel said that in the late 1980s and 1990s, his client spoke up for Muslim communities who were being oppressed in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya.

Dratel said his client “needed to be outrageous” to keep the entire spectrum of appeal to his community. “There's a third way between Osama bin Laden on one extreme and George Bush on the other,” he said.

 Dratel told the jury that Hamza was relied upon by British intelligence to try to keep the situation non-violent. He said he had raised the alarm on the hostage-taking in Yemen. He said Hamza had not sent anyone to Afghanistan, but had provided money for schools, charities and computers there. "He is not a follower of Osama bin Laden. He is not a follower of anyone. He's his own man.”

also Two High Court judges warned Theresa May that if there are no US assurances by 4pm on June 13, her decision to go ahead with the extradition of Haroon Aswat, despite a European court ruling blocking his removal, will be quashed.

Trial of jihadist cleric expected to highlight ex-Guantanamo detainee's al Qaeda role 


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