Court artist's drawing of Abu Hamza al-Masri as he sits on trial.
Cleric 'urged children to fight'
LONDON, England -- The jury in the trial of Abu Hamza al-Masri has heard recorded sermons of the Muslim cleric telling followers to "join the front line" in the fight against infidels and calling for children to be trained for a violent struggle.
Egyptian-born Hamza, former head preacher at the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, faces life in prison if convicted of inciting murder and stirring racial hatred in speeches recorded on nine video and audio tapes made for supporters. He denies all the charges.
Prosecutors on Friday played jurors tapes in which the preacher urged Muslims to carry out the destruction of the "enemies of Allah," The Associated Press reported.
"Islam will never be dear to your hearts unless you sacrifice for it, until your blood comes out for it, your teeth get broken for it, you have enemies because of it," he said in one of the tapes played at London's Central Criminal Court.
The three-hour speech was delivered in 1999, prosecutor David Perry said.
"You are a fighter, so when the time comes for fighting you can fight and if you want more reward in what you do, join the front line," Hamza told followers, urging them to target non-Muslims and that children should be prepared to act as holy warriors.
The cleric said once a child reached 10 years old, they must get used to "sleeping rough, sleeping tough, going for training, sweating, getting a couple of punches in his face," AP said.
Jurors were played a tape on Thursday in which the cleric said supporters should "bleed" their enemies and treat Britain like a toilet.
The cleric is also accused of keeping a terrorism "manual" containing a dedication to Osama bin Laden and suggested a list of potential targets including Big Ben.
Hamza, 47, from west London, faces nine charges under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 alleging he solicited others at public meetings to murder Jews and other non-Muslims.
He also faces four charges under the Public Order Act of 1986 of "using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior with the intention of stirring up racial hatred."
Hamza also faces one charge of possessing threatening, abusive or insulting sound recordings, and another charge under anti-terrorism laws.
Following his arrest Hamza did not answer questions, but instead gave a statement in which he claimed Islam was being placed on trial and that he had been the object of a witch hunt by the media and a hate campaign, the court was told.
The cleric also denied hating Jews or Christians and said the encyclopedia had been given to him as a "gift" and that he had never read it.
The trial continues.
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