Abu Hamza extradited to US to face terrorist charges


RADICAL ISLAMIC cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri and four other men wanted on terrorist charges in the US began their journey to the US yesterday evening, following the end of an eight-year extradition battle with the British authorities.

In the UK court of the appeal, two judges ruled that they should not be given any more time to challenge their extradition, even though Abu Hamza’s lawyers argued he needed a brain scan to investigate his medical condition.

The other men being sent to the US are computer expert Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan, who are wanted by the US authorities for running a UK-based website that the US says promoted and supported terrorism.

Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled Al-Fawwaz were charged by the US department of justice, along with Osama bin Laden and almost two-dozen others, with two attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 which left almost 300 dead.

The five were taken from Long Lartin Prison in Worcestershire shortly after 7pm last night to a US airbase in eastern England, where two US aircraft – one registered to the US department of justice – had remained on standby all day to fly them away.

In a last-minute plea, counsel for Abu Hamza, Alun Jones, said the cleric, who lost an eye and most of an arm in an explosion in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, urgently needed an MRI scan.

The cleric came to public prominence during his time in charge of the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, where he made a series of attacks upon British society and demanded the establishment of a caliphate.

Mr Jones said the MRI would show whether Abu Hamza was fit to plead or whether he was displaying signs of the early stages of dementia. He added that the cleric was chronically depressed, worsened by the conditions in jail, where he was woken every hour.

Rejecting the plea, the judge, Sir John Thomas, said: “There are excellent medical facilities in the United States. If he is at risk of a degenerative condition, the sooner he is put on trial the better. I don’t see how delay is in the interests of justice.”