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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 January 2006, 15:52 GMT
Hamza 'unaware' of Bin Laden link
Abu Hamza
Mr Abu Hamza denies the charges against him
Muslim preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri has said he did not know an alleged "terror manual" found in his house contained a dedication to Osama Bin Laden.

The prosecution say the "Encyclopaedia of Afghani Jihad" included a passage suggesting a list of potential targets.

The cleric said even if he knew of the dedication, Bin Laden was not wanted in 1994 when he was given the book.

Mr Abu Hamza, 47, from west London, denies 15 charges, including soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred.

During the trial the cleric has denied urging a "tinderbox" congregation at London's Finsbury Park mosque to go out and murder.

Bin Laden

As he finished giving evidence in his defence at the Old Bailey, Mr Abu Hamza was asked about the encyclopaedia, which he said was given to him as a gift and which he had not read.

He pointed out that Bin Laden had not been a wanted man in 1994.

He went on: "He was not required by anyone. The Sudanese government even offered him to America. They said 'we have a person here...' They said 'we do not need him'.

"He was only sought by the Americans after 1998."

The court heard that the cleric was interviewed at length by Scotland Yard officers about his sermons in 1999.

Mr Abu Hamza said topics covered included "what provokes Muslims; what is so-called suicide bombing evidence; the ideals of Muslims; who comes to this country; what would be provoking them; freedom of speech and the limits."

'Racial hatred'

And, as he finished giving evidence, the cleric repeated his denial that he had either incited Muslims to kill or incited racial hatred.

During his defence, a rabbi and a vicar gave evidence.

Jewish Orthodox rabbi Joseph Goldstein, from an east London synagogue, said he found Mr Hamza "very open, very cordial" when they were both involved in the pastoral care of a mixed-marriage couple.

The Rev Stephen Coles, vicar at St Thomas's at Finsbury Park, met Mr Hamza in 2001 and said they got on "extremely well".

"He was extremely conversational.

"We talked about various things, both personal and to do with the community."

Charges

Mr Abu Hamza faces nine charges under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, which allege that he solicited others at public meetings to murder Jews and other non-Muslims.

He faces four other charges under the Public Order Act 1986 of "using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with the intention of stirring up racial hatred".

A further charge claims the defendant was in possession of video and audio recordings which he intended to distribute to stir up racial hatred.

The final charge, under section 58 of the Terrorism Act, accuses him of possessing the Encyclopaedia of the Afghani Jihad, which, it is claimed, contained information "of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".

The trial was adjourned until Friday after the judge, Mr Justice Hughes, told the jury that it was due to be sent out to consider its verdicts on Wednesday or Thursday of next week.


SEE ALSO:
Timeline: Hamza trial
24 Jan 06 |  UK



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