Abu Hamza al-Masri,extremist Egyptian-born preacher,and four other terrorism suspects appeared in federal courts Saturday,hours after they lost years-long extradition fights in Britain and were transported to the US under tight security to face trial.
Al-Masri entered no plea to charges of conspiring with Seattle men to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and helping abduct 16 hostages,two American tourists,in Yemen in 1998.
Al-Masri has hooks in place of hands,but he came into court without them and both arms exposed through his short-sleeved blue prison shirt. His court-appointed lawyer,Sabrina Shroff,asked that his prosthetics be immediately returned so he can use his arms.
The four other extradited men pleaded not guilty. Khaled al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary appeared alongside al-Masri in New York and Syed Talha Ahsan,33,and Babar Ahmad,38,were arraigned in New Haven,Conn.,to charges that they provided terrorists in Afghanistan and Chechnya with cash,recruits and equipment.
Lawyers for both al-Fawwaz and Bary noted the ailments of their clients and said they were concerned that they get their medication. The lawyers did not seek bail for their clients though Barys attorney reserved the right to do so in the future.
Ahsan,33,and Ahmad,38,were kept detained while they awaited trial in Connecticut,where an Internet service provider was allegedly used to host a website. Their lawyers declined to comment.
Ahmad made efforts to secure GPS devices,Kevlar helmets,night vision goggles,ballistic vests and camouflage uniforms,prosecutors said.
Al-Masri,a one-time nightclub bouncer,will be housed in Manhattan along with Khaled al-Fawwaz,50,a citizen of Saudi Arabia,and Adel Abdul Bary,52,an Egyptian citizen,who will face trial on charges that they participated in the bombings of two US embassies in Africa in 1998. The attacks killed 224 people,including 12 Americans. They were indicted in a case that also charged Osama bin Laden.
US Attorney Preet Bharara called the extraditions a watershed moment in our nations efforts to eradicate terrorism. He added,As is charged,these are men who were at the nerve centers of al Qaedas acts of terror,and they caused bloodshed…
In the 1990s,al-Masri turned Londons Finsbury Park Mosque into a training ground for extremist Islamists,attracting men including September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid.
In England,lawyers for 54-year-old al-Masri said he suffers from depression,chronic sleep deprivation and other ailments.
The overnight trip to the United States came after a multi-year extradition fight that ended Friday,when Britains High Court ruled that the men had no more grounds for appeal and could be sent to the US immediately.
Im absolutely delighted that Abu Hamza is now out of this country, British Prime Minister David Cameron said. Like the rest of the public,Im sick to the back teeth of people who come here,threaten our country,who stay at vast expense to the taxpayer and we cant get rid of them.