Radical Cleric Charged With Soliciting Murder

Radical Islamic cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri appeared in a British court on Tuesday and was charged with encouraging his followers to kill non-Muslims, several news agencies reported on Tuesday. Al-Masri, 46, is former head cleric at London's Finsbury Park mosque, which has been linked to terror suspects including alleged Sept. 11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid.

Out of the 16-count indictment, Al-Masri faces 10 charges of soliciting to murder, four charges of using threatening, abusive or insulting behavior with intent to stir up racial hatred, one charge of possessing threatening, abusive or insulting sound recordings and one charge of possessing a terrorist document. These charges pre-empt the extradition charges filed by the U.S.

The charges in the U.K. pre-empt his extradition to the United States to face more serious terrorism related charges. Al Masri has been in custody in Britain since last May when an indictment filed in the Southern District of New York charged al Masri with allegedly trying to establish a terrorist training camp in Oregon, involvement in hostage-taking in Yemen and funding terrorism training in Afghanistan.

These charges against al Masri appear to represent recognition in the U.K. that the cleric is more involved in terrorist operations than previously accepted by British authorities. U.S and French counter-terrorist officials have complained for years that, despite al Masri's known links to Islamic terrorists, he was allowed to preach his extremist views and use his mosque to recruit young men to the Jihad.



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