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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 October, 2004, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Profile: Abu Hamza
Abu Hamza
The controversial cleric has always denied involvement in terrorism
Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri is one of the most distinctive radical Islamic figures in Britain.

The 47-year-old is to face criminal charges in the UK.

He had been fighting extradition to the United States, but the British charges will take precedence.

The former Soho nightclub bouncer denies any involvement in terrorism.

He was born Mustafa Kamel Mustafa in Alexandria, Egypt, to middle-class parents. In 1979, he came to London with plans to become a civil engineer.


He studied in Brighton and later worked as a doorman in the West End.

He married a western woman, Valerie Fleming, in 1981 and received his British citizenship, although the Home Office is currently trying to have that removed. The couple divorced five years later.

In Afghanistan, he sustained the injuries to his hand and eye - clearing landmines for the Mujahideen - that make him such a distinct figure.

He has also claimed to have worked in the Muslim community in Bosnia.

Mr Abu Hamza runs Supporters of Sharia, which is a group promoting the rule of Islamic law.

In February 2003 he was banned by the Charity Commission from preaching at London's Finsbury Park mosque, but he continued to speak from the street outside.

Home Secretary David Blunkett's attempts to strip his British citizenship and deport him to Yemen have been delayed.

An appeal against the decision to extradite him was due to be heard in November, but is likely to be postponed until after any criminal matters are dealt with.

Jeremy Paxman interview with Abu Hamza from
Newsnight 17 December 2002

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