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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 January 2006, 19:33 GMT
Hamza 'urged followers to murder'
Abu Hamza
Mr Abu Hamza is accused of having a document "useful" to a terrorist
Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri told his followers it was their "religious duty to kill" non-Muslims, jurors heard as his trial began at the Old Bailey.

Prosecutors said a "terrorism manual" was found at his London home in 2004.

It explained how to make explosives, organise a terrorist unit and suggested potential targets such as Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower, it was claimed.

Mr Abu Hamza, 47, denies 15 charges including having a document "useful" to a terrorist and soliciting murder.

No religion condones the murder or killing of innocent men, women or children or the dissemination of hatred and bigotry
Prosecutor David Perry

He is also accused of threatening behaviour with intent to incite racial hatred.

Prosecutor David Perry said Mr Abu Hamza railed against alcohol, adultery, democracy and said Muslims had an "obligation" to fight and kill kuffar (non-believers).

The jury heard Mr Abu Hamza was born in Egypt in 1958 but had lived in this country for a number of years and was now a British citizen who had preached at Finsbury Park Mosque until 2003.

Mr Perry said some of Mr Abu Hamza's talks and sermons had been recorded. About 2,700 audio tapes and 570 video cassettes were found at his home and some of them formed the basis of the prosecution's case.

He told the jury: "You might have expected that, as a spiritual leader in a holy place, he would be speaking of hope, charity and compassion.

"In fact (his sermons) contained very little of those matters. The prosecution case is that Sheikh Abu Hamza was preaching murder and hatred."

Edward Fitzgerald QC
Mr Abu Hamza's lawyer arrives at the Old Bailey

"You will hear the tapes and we will hear that the defendant, Sheikh Abu Hamza, encouraged his listeners, whether they were an audience at a private meeting or a congregation at the mosque, to believe that it was part of a religious duty to fight in the cause of Allah, God, and as part of the religious duty to fight in the cause of Allah, it was part of the religious duty to kill."

Mr Perry said the cleric preached "intolerance, bigotry and hatred", especially against Jewish people.

The prosecutor stressed the case was "not a trial against Islam", or against its holy book, the Koran, but had been brought "because of what the defendant said".

"What the prosecution say is that it is quite clear that no religion condones the murder or killing of innocent men, women or children or the dissemination of hatred and bigotry," Mr Perry said.

"In the course of one lecture he accused the Jews of being blasphemous, traitors and dirty. This, because of the treachery, because of their blasphemy and filth, was why Hitler was sent into the world."

'Focus on evidence'

Mr Abu Hamza had also said Jews controlled the West and should be removed from the earth, Mr Perry said.

"This aspect of his teaching also represents the offences of inciting racial hatred," he added.

An encyclopaedia found at Mr Abu Hamza's home described making plans to target museums, skyscrapers, airports, nuclear plants and football grounds and contained information about manufacturing weapons, it was alleged.

Later Mr Perry said that when arrested Mr Abu Hamza issued a statement saying his sermons were purely religious and had been taken out of context.

He said Mr Abu Hamza told police: "I have never encouraged anyone to hurt British people. I was expressing my right to freedom of expression."

He said the encyclopaedia, which was written between 1989 and 1999, had been a "gift" but he had never read it.

The trial began with the judge warning the seven men and five women of the jury to ignore what they may have read or heard about Mr Abu Hamza in the media and to concentrate only on evidence they heard in court.

The trial was adjourned until Thursday.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See library footage of Abu Hamza preaching



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