The attorney for radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri demanded today that the one-armed alleged terrorist be given back the hook he uses as a prosthetic hand, during his first post-extradition appearance in a federal court in New York.
Hamza, who authorities say tried to set up a terrorist training camp on American soil, arrived in New York Friday night in the custody of U.S. Marshals.
Wearing a navy, prison-issued jumpsuit with red T-shirt, the 54-year-old spoke only once during his five-minute hearing -- to confirm a financial affidavit given to the court was correct. He otherwise was silent as the federal magistrate read off the 11 charges against him.
"He will need someone to help him take care of his daily needs," said Hamza's lawyer, Sabrina Shroff. "Otherwise, he is not going to be able to function in a civilized manner."
The one-eyed and hook-handed former imam of a radical London mosque arrived in the United States with four other terrorism suspects, leaving the U.K. just hours after the defendants lost a last ditch appeal in the British courts. The British national is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday.
Adel Abdel Bary and Khaled al Fawwaz, who are charged with conspiring with members of al Qaeda to kill U.S. nationals and attack U.S. interests abroad, were also extradited to New York. Bary is also charged with murder, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, and other offenses, in connection with the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Both Bary, an Egyptian, and Fawwaz, a Saudi, were scheduled to be arraigned today.
"After years of protracted legal battles," said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, "the extradition of these three alleged terrorists to the U.S. is a watershed moment in our nation's efforts to eradicate terrorism, and it makes good on a promise to the American people to use every available diplomatic, legal, and administrative tool to pursue and prosecute charged terrorists no matter how long it takes."
"These are men who were at the nerve centers of Al Qaeda's acts of terror, and they caused blood to be shed, lives to be lost, and families to be shattered," said Bharara.
Two other suspects extradited from the U.K., Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan, are charged with running a pro-jihadi website and were set to appear in federal court in Connecticut.
"The extraditions of Abu Hamza, Bary and Fawwaz are a major milestone in our effort to see these alleged high-level terrorists face American justice," FBI Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge Mary Galligan said. "The indictments allege the direct participation of these defendants in planning and carrying out some of the most odious acts of al Qaeda terrorism. When an indictment alleges the murderous intent of international terrorists, the government will not waver in its determination to achieve justice, no matter how long it takes."
An indictment against Hamza, the ex-imam at the Finsbury Park mosque in London, was unsealed after his arrest by British authorities in 2004. It accused Hamza of a litany of terrorism-related crimes including his alleged role in what turned out to be a deadly hostage-taking operation in Yemen. It also said Hamza had tried to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and was accused of providing material support to al Qaeda and the Taliban.
The Finsbury Park mosque where Hamza preached was attended by Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid, the infamous "shoe bomber." A senior U.K. terrorism official told the AP the mosque was a "honeypot for extremists."
Hamza and the four other suspects had put up fierce legal opposition to extradition and had argued they had human rights concerns about the conditions they would face in U.S. prisons. The U.S. government first requested Hamza's extradition when he was picked up by British police in 2004.
The U.S. Embassy in London said in a release it was "pleased" with the U.K. court's decision to extradite the group and said the move marked "the end of a lengthy process of litigation."
"The U.S. Government agrees with the ECHR's findings that the conditions of confinement in U.S. prisons -- including in maximum security facilities -- do not violate European standards. In fact, the Court found that services and activities provided in U.S. prisons surpass what is available in most European prisons," the embassy said.
Though the delay in extradition had centered on the treatment Abu Hamza alleged he could expect in U.S. jails, while in England he had complained about how "the taps were faulty" in his prison.
"I understand the faucets work well in U.S. prisons," said one U.K. official on Friday, "and the medical care is excellent as well."