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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 May, 2004, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Hamza faces 11 US terror charges
Abu Hamza and supporter outside Finsbury Park in May
Abu Hamza, pictured here in May, was remanded in custody
Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza is facing 11 terror-related charges including hostage taking and supporting al-Qaeda, says the US government.

US Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the charges in New York as Abu Hamza appeared in a British court to face extradition proceedings.

One charge accuses of him of being involved in an attack in Yemen in 1998 that resulted in four hostages' deaths.

He was remanded in custody until the next stage of the extradition process.

Abu Hamza is also accused of providing support and resources for terrorists, particularly al-Qaeda and of attempting to set up a terror training camp in Bly, Oregon.

Mr Ashcroft said the cleric could face the death penalty or life imprisonment if found guilty.

The US will use every diplomatic, legal and administrative tool to pursue and to prosecute those who facilitate terrorist activity
US Attorney General John Ashcroft

However under current national and European laws, Britain must ask the US to pledge they will not apply the death penalty before any possible extradition is approved.

Home Secretary David Blunkett said: "We have an agreement with the Americans which I renewed a year ago with John Ashcroft which means that on his extradition they are entitled to find him guilty, they are entitled to kill in the sentence but they will not carry out an execution."

As Mr Blunkett has already certified the US extradition request, it is now up to a district judge to assess whether the evidence is strong enough to warrant extradition.

According to the indictment, Abu Hamza provided "material support" for al-Qaeda and the Taleban to bring about "violent jihad" in Afghanistan.

He is accused of acting as an intermediary with a terrorist group that took 16 tourists hostage in the Yemen, six years ago,

He is said to have spoken to the terrorists before and after the incident.

The van containing the cleric arrives at Belmarsh

Three British tourists and one Australian were killed when they were used as human shields during a shoot-out with Yemen rescuers, it is claimed.

Abu Hamza was arrested at his Shepherd's Bush home early on Thursday after US officials said they wanted to extradite him to face the charges.

His house was searched and several items were seized, including videos, documents and a briefcase.

The cleric was taken to a central London police station by anti-terrorist branch officers and later appeared before senior district judge Timothy Workman at the magistrates court at Belmarsh.

Setting out the charges, Mr Ashcroft said the war against terrorism was being fought on many fronts.

"It is a war where innocent lives are endangered not only by the terrorist who carries the bomb but those that recruit and equip the terrorists.

"...the Department of Justice is bringing the full weight of the criminal law against those who support the activities of terrorists," he added.

"The United States will use every diplomatic, legal and administrative tool to pursue and to prosecute those who facilitate terrorist activity.

"And we will not stop until the war on terrorism is won."

The Egyptian-born preacher is already at the centre of a deportation battle with the Home Office, which wants to remove his citizenship, gained through marriage in 1981.

Sermons

The government claims that he has provided support and advice to terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

He was a regular preacher at the Finsbury Park mosque until February 2003 when he was banned by the Charity Commission for using his position for "personal and political, rather than charitable purposes".

But he has continued to preach to worshippers outside the mosque, which was closed for repairs after a police raid in January 2003.

BBC social affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford said the FBI is thought to have built a case against Abu Hamza using information from James Ujaama, a former friend of Hamza's jailed for two years in Seattle earlier this year after pleading guilty to helping the Taleban.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Alex Bushill
"[Hamza's] lawyers say he will oppose the extradition"



SEE ALSO:
Text of Ashcroft statement
27 May 04  |  Americas
Profile: Abu Hamza
27 May 04  |  UK
Prosecutors study cleric's file
29 Apr 04  |  London
MPs 'gagged' over radical cleric
27 Apr 04  |  Politics


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