Hooked at Last : Abu Hamza Al Masri arrested in London -U.S. requests his extradition -Full list of charges
James Ujaama jailed in Seattle for aiding Al Qaeda - attended Al Masri's mosque in the UK, gave government details about Oregon Jihad plans
May 27, 2004
May 27, 2004
The full list of charges against Abu Hamza BY PA NEWS
Although the US indictment against Abu Hamza mentions eleven charges, only nine were listed in court in London today. These charges are listed below:
1. Abu Hamza, between 23rd December 1998 and 29th December 1998, conspired with others to take hostages in Yemen.
2. Abu Hamza, between 23rd December 1998 and 29th December 1998, did aid, abet, counsel and procure Abu Hassan and others to commit the offence of hostage-taking in Yemen.
3. Abu Hamza, between 1st October 1999 and 30th April 2000, conspired with others to control and manage an association of persons in Bly, Oregon, who would be organised and trained, or organised and equipped for the purpose of enabling them to be employed for the use or display of physical force in promoting a political object, namely to make hijrah to, and to fight jihad in, Afghanistan.
4. Abu Hamza, between 1st October 1999 and 30th April 2000, conspired with others to control and manage an association of persons in Bly, Oregon, who would be organised and trained, or organised and equipped in such manner as to arouse reasonable apprehension that they were organised and either trained or equipped for the purpose of enabling them to be employed for the use or display of physical force in promoting a political object, namely to make hijrah to, and to fight jihad in, Afghanistan.
5. Abu Hamza, between 1st October 1999 and 30th April 2000, conspired with others to have with them firearms in Bly, Oregon, with intent to commit one or more indictable offences: Unlawful drilling; prohibition of quasi-military organisations; possession of explosives under suspicious circumstances; enlistment in the service of a foreign state.
6. Abu Hamza, between 1st October 1999 and 30th April 2000, conspired with others to use or have possession of property, namely a training camp and equipment, intending that it shall be applied or used for the commission of, or in furtherance of or in connection with, acts of terrorism, namely the fighting of jihad in Afghanistan.
7. Abu Hamza, between 1st October 1999 and 31st December 1999, gave, lent or otherwise made available to another money, namely £4,000, knowing or having reasonable cause to suspect that it would be applied or used for the commission of, or in furtherance of or in connection with, acts of terrorism, namely the fighting of jihad in Afghanistan.
8. Abu Hamza, between 1st June 2000 and 19th December 2001, conspired with others to give, lend or otherwise make available money including travel expenses for persons to attend Afghanistan, and other property including a letter of introduction to a high ranking member of the Taleban, knowing or having reasonable cause to suspect that it would be applied or used for the commission of, or in furtherance of or in connection with, acts of terrorism, namely attendance and terrorist activities at an al-Qaeda terrorist training camp and elsewhere in Afghanistan involving the use and possession of light weaponry, machine guns, explosives, detonators, mines, anti-aircraft weapons and the planning of bombings, hostage taking and suicide bombing.
9. Abu Hamza, between 1st March and 30th April 2001, conspired with others to invite Co-conspirator 2 to receive instruction and training in the use of firearms and explosives in Afghanistan.
Infamy: Once the US and Britain had established a connection between Abu Hamza and a terrorist training camp of the kind videotaped by al-Qaeda moves to extradite the Muslim cleric gained momentum. Picture: John Stillwell/ PA
Hooked at last
SATURDAY morning and Abu Hamza Masri, finally deprived of his liberty and his trademark hook, was emerging from his second fitful night in Belmarsh high-security jail. But, at his spiritual home in North London, it was business as usual. That is, doors closed and shutters down, the building as dark and uninviting as Belmarsh itself. The Finsbury Park Mosque, where Hamza delivered the first of a canon of inflammatory public statements that include celebrations of the September 11 attacks, the Columbia space shuttle disaster and suicide bombings, is already a relic of his controversial past.
As the first spots of rain fell out of a grey sky, most shopkeepers and early shoppers were unwilling to talk about a man who brought such infamy to their area. On the front gate of the mosque, from where his bodyguards used to glower at unwelcome visitors, the rusting padlocks sway gently on their chains in the breeze. The dawn raid on Abu Hamza's home in Hammersmith, the dizzying pace of a process that took him to Paddington Police Station, to Belmarsh and Bow Street magistrates' court and cleared the way for his extradition to the United States, confirmed beyond doubt what many Muslims in the area had already hoped: that his reign of terror over a place of sanctuary in a corner of the capital is over.
The relief is not universal. On the street outside, Muhammad, born and raised in the shadow of the Arsenal football ground nearby, and wearing a jersey proclaiming the English champions, pointedly pronounces himself "Egyptian" when asked where he is from. "My family is from Egypt. Today, I feel more Egyptian, not English," he said. "They have taken the sheikh for saying what he believes and what many others believe is true. But the worst thing they could do is give him to the Americans on a plate, and that will happen."
Muhammad, 17, stood amid the practical evidence of the enduring support for Hamza, who was himself born in Egypt; the hastily-prepared flyers and placards decrying his arrest, the debris of the previous day's outburst against the latest twist in his story. A hardcore of Hamza's supporters met outside the mosque on Friday afternoon to hear a rallying cry worthy of the controversial cleric himself, before marching on the US embassy.
"The shameful and heavy-handed arrest of Sheikh Abu Hamza has proven unequivocally that any Muslim who speaks out against idolatry, corruption, oppression, Zionism and Christian fanaticism is subject to arrest," a spokesman for Hamza told the throng dodging traffic on the busy road outside the mosque.
But the disquiet is not confined to the more extreme elements of Hamza's community. While community leaders and their followers attempt a dispassionate position in public, it is not difficult to penetrate the surface. Beneath lies a keen sense of injustice, frustration and some degree of anger, even among the moderate majority of worshippers, over the authorities' treatment of the running sore represented by a former nightclub bouncer who became one of Britain's most notorious hate figures. "The Muslim community is the victim of his criminal activities," said Mufti Abdulqadir Barkatullah, a trustee of the Finsbury Park mosque when Hamza's "take-over" enforced the closure of the building in January last year. "We at the mosque have all suffered from him and his thugs. The Muslim community would have preferred him to be charged under British law because he is a British person. But the anger isn't that he's been arrested, the anger is about why he was let loose to cause harm to the Muslim community in the first place."
Abu Hamza was no friend of the Muslim community, and his alleged acts of intimidation and violence against them are deplored alongside the inflammatory statements that outraged the rest of the country. But, senior British Muslims point out, his misbehaviour had been continuing and consistently reported to authorities, long before he exploded into the notice of the general public, without provoking any determined action to deal with him.
It is an issue that is being pondered well beyond this corner of north London: aside from the questions about the provenance of the case against him, why has he finally been propelled into such an apparently conclusive process now?
"The suspicion must be that our government didn't really have much to go on and this is a get-out for them," said Inayat Bungawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Great Britain (MCGB). He is hugely sceptical of the clandestine manoeuvres that have pushed Hamza to this point. "That would be dangerous," he told Scotland on Sunday, "no matter what Abu Hamza stands for. It will be a problem if the feeling is left in the Muslim community that people can be hounded out of the country for just holding opinions different from what the majority of the public believes."
It was early on Wednesday that Trevor Kavanagh, the political editor of the Sun, received a call informing him that the most notorious man in Britain was to suffer the indignity of a dawn raid on his home and, ultimately, expulsion from the UK for good. Kavanagh, a man with a network of contacts deep inside the government, predictably refuses to name the source of the tip-off.
Significantly, police sources confirmed that their operation only became a "dawn raid" after details leaked out: they had to bring forward the raid after being alerted to the Sun's plans to put ‘Hook Seized Today' on its front page on Thursday morning.
The atmosphere at the Home Office early last week was feverish as it became clear they were reaching the conclusion of their campaign to free themselves of the excitable cleric. The US deposition politely requesting the handover did not come out of the blue. Home Secretary David Blunkett had spoken to US Attorney-General John Ashcroft several times on Monday and Tuesday to fine-tune the details of the transatlantic operation. In the excitement of the run-up to their big event, the initial judgment of Blunkett and his advisers was that he should not go on television to talk about it once Hamza was locked up because "he would not have been able to keep the grin off his face".
Neither was the conclusive move against Hamza an instinctive response to any further deterioration in his behaviour in recent weeks: the Home Office concedes that, in fact, he had been "relatively quiet". The dramatic events of the past few days were the culmination of months of diplomatic activity involving scores of civil servants and senior politicians including Blunkett, Ashcroft and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
Home Office sources acknowledge January this year as the point at which New Labour - and Blunkett in particular - "applied the booster rockets" to their campaign to expel Hamza. Officials recall how the Home Secretary thumped his mahogany desk in fury after Hamza passed the latest stage in his effort to retain his British citizenship via an appearance before the Immigration Appeals Commission. A deportation process which Blunkett finally admitted last week had been altered specifically to speed Hamza's route out of Britain was already running into the sand.
A former Home Office minister recalled the official frustration. "I would go to meetings where Hamza was almost the only thing discussed," he told Scotland on Sunday. "Sometimes he wasn't even on the agenda. He was an irritant, but it would be naïve to say that is the only reason he was chased up. If you look at his statements alone, some of them are calculated to cause hostility. But we all know it wasn't just about his statements. There is clear evidence that suggests he has been involved with people involved in international terrorism."
Not clear enough, however, to warrant a case against him to be brought before the UK courts. Scotland on Sunday understands that, in a meeting earlier this year with representatives of Britain's Muslim community, Blunkett indicated that action would be taken to "sort out" Hamza. The government did continue its own efforts to remove him, and to harden the charges against him. Its lawyers told the Special Immigration Appeals Commission last month that Hamza had "supported individuals in the physical aspects of jihad, including fighting overseas". Hamza had "provided through Finsbury Park a centre of extremism and a safe haven for Islamic extremists, enabling them to develop the support and contacts necessary to further violent aims", according to Blunkett's QC, Ian Burnett.
But it is now clear that any growing confidence exhibited by Blunkett earlier this year was more to do with his faith in the Americans' ability to nail their man and the controversial "fast-track" deportation procedures thrashed out between the two allies last year. The Americans have been building a case against Hamza for several months. Crucial to their efforts was the achievement in February of gaining the co-operation of a key witness, James Ujaama, an American who became a Hamza confidant in the 1990s when he attended the Finsbury Park mosque. Under a plea agreement, Ujaama admitted to illegally conspiring to provide goods to the former Taliban administration in Afghanistan. He admitted that he and a co-conspirator were sent by Hamza to Afghanistan in 2000 for jihad training, and that he delivered currency "to persons in the territory of Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban".
In September 2001, according to the agreement, Ujaama ferried money at the direction of a co-conspirator from London to Pakistan "with the intent of delivering it to persons in Afghanistan". Prosecutors had also alleged that in 1999 Ujaama and Hamza worked together to try to establish a terror training camp in Bly, Oregon. Ujaama faxed Hamza a document that compared property there to the terrain in Afghanistan and said it could be used as a place to hide weapons.
The central charges in the indictment accuse Hamza of giving support and directions to a militant group called the Islamic Army of Aden in December 1998 when it kidnapped 16 Western tourists, including 12 Britons and two Americans, in Yemen. According to the indictment, Hamza provided a satellite phone to the group and received three calls in London the day before the hostages were taken.
It is believed that the American investigation was aided considerably by hundreds of pages of information relating to the allegations handed over by British police over the last three months.
But the apparent success in speeding the way towards a prosecution has not been universally welcomed by Hamza's most ferocious opponents. A Times editorial on the day after the arrest complained that the development "begs serious questions about why Britain has been so dilatory in prosecuting Abu Hamza when it was in possession of some of the same information five years ago". It was a familiar refrain.
Home Office insiders protest that the main reason for the UK's inability to prosecute Hamza for the same 11 charges was the fact that phone-tap evidence cannot be used in a British court. US evidence allegedly linking Hamza to the Yemeni kidnapping would not have been admissible in British courts because it was obtained from intercepting satellite calls. In the case of Abu Hamza, the anomaly is no longer relevant, as the government has managed to find a ‘Plan B' to get round the problem. "At least he is behind bars," one ministerial source said last night, "where we can keep an eye on him."
Despite the success in caging a man seen as an enemy by the Muslim community itself, Mufti Barkatullah claims the suspicions of many Muslims about the motives of the government throughout the saga of Abu Hamza will remain.
"Community leaders think that he's been used like tissue paper and thrown away by the authorities," he said. "While he was allowed to commit particular offences at the same time other imams were put away for years. This particular criminal person was used by the authorities for their own purposes."
The instructions were clear: be on a certain street corner in London's East End at 9pm. You will be met.
On the first evening no one turned up. Nor on the second. But on the third night, a blue people carrier pulled in. Forty minutes later, over a curry in a restaurant in Barking, two heavily bearded men were telling The Observer about Finsbury Park mosque. They spoke of deactivated Kalashnikovs being stripped and reassembled in its basements, of combat first aid and self-defence training to equip volunteers for 'holy war' and of consignments of medical equipment sent off to the Taliban, then battling in Afghanistan.
The identity of the men was unclear - they hinted that they were disaffected worshippers - but their stories were confirmed by security sources. The meeting took place in early 2002 and their account tied in with previous reports that recruitment videos showing militants cutting the throats of Algerian soldiers were circulating in the mosque. They also fitted with the experiences of an MI5 agent who had infiltrated the red-brick religious centre stuck on a grim, traffic-choked island in north London.
All the stories centred around one figure: Abu Hamza, the Egyptian-born prayer leader at Finsbury Park. With his hook hand and single eye, he fulfilled all the stereotypes of the 'mad mullah'.
This weekend Abu Hamza is in Belmarsh prison in south west London, Britain's highest security jail. If his battle against extradition to the US fails, he will face an American court on serious terrorist charges. A conviction will mean decades in prison and, if the pledge the British government appears to have obtained is forgotten, possible execution. But the truth about 'Britain's bin Laden', as he has been dubbed by the Sun, is still elusive.
Abu Hamza consistently denies the claims against him. 'It's a smear' is one of his favourite responses. 'Anyone who speaks the truth is silenced by false claims.' Associates of Abu Hamza say he is innocent of the American allegations - that he was in charge of the kidnapping of British and American tourists in the Yemen in 1998, provided logistical support to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and tried to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon. On Friday a hundred young men lined up in the street outside the now closed Finsbury Park mosque - it was shut down last February - to pray for the release of 'the Sheikh'.
With the congregation sitting before him, the new prayer leader spoke of 'the enslavement of British Muslims' and the 'prison of the oppressors'. Speaking mainly in Arabic, he placed Abu Hamza at the head of a long line of radical Muslim thinkers. He spoke of Abdullah Azam, an early spiritual mentor of Osama bin Laden, who was assassinated in 1989, and Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, 'the blind sheikh' currently in jail in America for leading a bombing plot in the early Nineties. But in fact, flattered though he might be by the comparison, Abu Hamza has little in common with such internationally known Islamic radicals. Few in radical Islamic circles or the intelligence community seriously believe he is 'the bin Laden of Britain', or 'the real [terrorist] deal', as New York police chief Ray Kelly described him. Domestic security sources have consistently referred to him as 'a clown' and say that his public profile was so high that it rendered him useless to any genuine terrorist organisation.
Abu Hamza was born Mustafa Kamel Mustafa in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1957 and moved to the UK at the age of 22, first working as a nightclub bouncer and a karate instructor. He studied civil engineering and married a British woman, Valerie Fleming, in 1981, thus becoming a British citizen. The couple divorced a year later, having had one son.
Though not previously known as a radical Muslim, Abu Hamza was profoundly affected by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and, like thousands of others, travelled to Pakistan to take part in the struggle against Moscow's forces. Arriving in the late Eighties, as the war was drawing to a close, he spent most of his time in the border town of Peshawar, making occasional forays into Afghanistan itself. It was during one of these trips that he lost an eye and his right hand. If you believe him, it was while clearing a landmine. If you believe American security service sources, it was while preparing a bomb.
The end of the Afghan war resulted in a diaspora of militants. Returning to his native Egypt, where Afghan veterans had galvanised a decades-old struggle between the state and militants, was out of the question. Suspected activists were being picked up by Cairo's notoriously brutal security authorities in their thousands. So Abu Hamza joined many activists making their way to London where they could exploit a tradition of tolerance to continue their campaigning.
Abu Hamza was not a well-known figure in 'Londonistan' in the early Nineties but his ousting of the moderate leaders of Finsbury Park mosque, once a community project sponsored by the Prince of Wales, gave him a base to work from. After consolidating his hold on the 2,000-capacity religious centre - and its funds - Abu Hamza began preaching his violent brand of Islam.
Abu Hamza was first thrust into the public spotlight in December 1998, when five young British Muslims were arrested on terrorist charges in Yemen, where the authorities were fighting a long and deadly war against Islamic militants. Among them was Abu Hamza's son Mohammed Mustafa and his stepson Mohsin Ghalain. According to the Yemeni authorities, the British men were apprehended when they made the simple tourist error of driving 'the British way' - clockwise - around a traffic island late at night. The driver refused to stop when challenged but later crashed into another car. In the wreckage Yemeni authorities claimed they found arms and explosives. It was alleged that the group were members of Supporters of Sharia, an organisation run by Abu Hamza from the Finsbury Park mosque, and were planning to bomb British targets in Yemen. Supporters of Sharia videos were found in the hotel room used by the men in Yemen. They confessed to their involvement, but later said their statements had been extracted under torture, which is used systematically in Yemeni jails. Abu Hamza's connection to the events in Yemen, first reported in The Observer, marked his transformation to a player, albeit still low-level, on the international stage of the world 'jihad'.
The American authorities accuse Abu Hamza of direct involvement in the kidnapping of 16 Western tourists in Yemen on 28 December, 1998, a few days after the arrest of the British men. It ended in a bloody shootout between the kidnappers and the Yemeni authorities in which three Britons and an Australian were killed. Investigators believed that the bombing plot and the kidnapping were both organised by Sheikh Abul Hassan Mehdar, the leader of the Islamic Army of Abyan, an associate of Abu Hamza's from Afghanistan. The grand jury indictment against Abu Hamza reveals details of intercepted satellite phone conversations between the London-based cleric and Yemen. Abu Hamza has never denied his friendship with the Yemeni sheikh, later executed, and told The Observer at the time that he was trying to use his influence to avoid bloodshed. US prosecutors will claim that Abu Hamza supplied the satellite phone the kidnappers used, and spoke to them before and during the kidnap itself and advised on the hostage-taking.
It will be difficult for Abu Hamza to dissociate himself from the Islamic Army of Abyan and its leader, who he saw as a hero of the Islamic struggle. At the time it was suggested that the hostages were taken in order to obtain the release of Abu Hamza's sons and the other British detainees as a personal favour. British police arrested Abu Hamza in 1999 in connection with the kidnapping, but there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution. Five years on, the Americans clearly disagree.
From 1999, Abu Hamza was watched carefully. An Algerian living in London was recruited by MI5 and sent into the mosque to report on the activities of Abu Hamza and the men who were gathering around him. Last week the agent told The Observer he was 'overjoyed' at the arrest.
But the security services preferred to keep tabs on Abu Hamza rather than arrest him. This was partly because they did not believe he was dangerous and partly to keep the militants in one place where surveillance was easier. They also lacked legal powers to secure a conviction. But 11 September changed all that.
As investigators reconstructed the al-Qaeda networks behind the attacks in New York and Washington, they discovered a series of connections that ran through Finsbury Park. Zacarias Moussaoui, a French Algerian who has been charged with being part of the team that hijacked the planes which hit the twin towers (the authorities say he was arrested on other charges before he could join the hijackers on the planes), had worshipped there. So had Richard Reid, the British-born convert to Islam who tried to blow himself up on a transatlantic jet in December 2001, and Nizar Trabelsi, a Tunisian-born former professional footballer and drug addict who was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Belgian court for plotting to blow himself up outside the American embassy in Paris. Many of the Britons who ended up in Guantanamo Bay were found to have spent time at the mosque - as had a series of other militants picked up around the world.
The American indictment alleges further activities at the mosque. Much of the material it contains is based on the testimony of James Ujaama, a one-time associate of Abu Hamza who was 'turned' by an American policeman. Ujaama, whose 20 years' sentence was cut to two years as an incentive to give evidence against Abu Hamza, was released the day Abu Hamza was arrested. Ujaama speaks of volunteers packed off to Afghanistan to undergo military training.
Abu Hamza has tried to keep a low profile over the last three years. In his public statements he has tried to stress that he is 'no threat to the UK' and has accused the media of hugely inflating his power. But when preaching in private he has been less circumspect. Tapes show him exhorting audiences to violent struggle and 'martyrdom' in Kashmir, Chechnya and Afghanistan and, particularly, in 'their homelands'.
'You don't have to travel thousands and thousands of miles to become a martyr - you can be a martyr right on your doorstep,' Abu Hamza says in one. Jews are evil and promote a 'Satanic ideology', he says in another.
Such statements, coupled with widespread reporting of the benefits payments that Abu Hamza receives, have pressured the government to act. Last year David Blunkett introduced legislation specifically aimed at Abu Hamza in order to strip him of his British citizenship. This would allow him to be deported or detained without trial as a foreign terrorist suspect. This process, already under way, would have taken years and the American extradition request has saved the Home Secretary the trouble. Last week he was finally where Blunkett wanted him - Belmarsh.
The American authorities hope his trial will provide a view of a genuine terrorist. But experts point out that, even if proved true, the acts alleged in the indictment took place some time ago. 'If they consider the imprisonment of Abu Hamza a genuinely significant achievement in the war on terror, then we should be very worried,' one analyst said. 'Serious terrorists don't stand in streets and lead prayers.'
By Craig Whitlock and Susan Schmidt Washington Post Foreign Service Friday, May 28, 2004; Page A01
BERLIN, May 27 -- A Muslim cleric whose London mosque has served as a magnet and megaphone for Islamic militants was arrested early Thursday by British police after U.S. officials unsealed a federal indictment charging him with planning terrorist acts in Oregon, Afghanistan and Yemen.
Abu Hamza Masri, 47, was detained at about 3 a.m. by an anti-terrorist squad that searched his home, acting in response to a U.S. extradition request. Among other crimes, he is accused of planning a military training camp for Muslim jihadists in rural Oregon and orchestrating a plot to take 16 Western tourists hostage in Yemen in 1998.
The U.S. indictment was handed up by a federal grand jury in New York on April 19 but kept under seal until Masri's arrest in London, where for years he has fended off attempts by the British government to silence him and expel him from the country.
The cleric has denied any wrongdoing or involvement with terrorism.
A native Egyptian who became a British citizen in 1981, Masri was born Mustafa Kamel Mustafa and at one point worked as a nightclub bouncer. He is one of the most visible and vocal Muslim radicals in Europe.
Missing both hands and one eye -- the result of injuries he said he suffered while fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan -- the imam has regularly praised the al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, and blamed Jews for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
British authorities have long suspected him of recruiting radicals such as Richard Reid, a British citizen convicted of trying to blow up an American Airlines flight in 2001. But until now he has remained free to preach his radical brand of Islam in public.
Last year, Britain declared Masri a national security threat and moved to strip him of his citizenship, a move that could eventually allow authorities to deport him or jail him indefinitely under anti-terrorism laws. Officials also shuttered his Finsbury Park mosque. But Masri has not gone quietly. He has tied up the legal proceedings with appeals and resorted to preaching on the street outside the mosque.
His attorney, Maddrassar Arani, said she spoke with him briefly Thursday after he was taken into custody and that he seemed unfazed. "He was quite calm about it," she told BBC Radio. "He said, 'Take your time and come down whenever you can.' "
Masri appeared briefly in a London court Thursday. Asked if he was willing to go to the United States, he shook his head and said, "No," the Reuters news agency reported. He was ordered detained pending another hearing next Thursday.
The Masri indictment was announced in New York by Attorney General John D. Ashcroft. "The war against terrorism is being fought on many fronts," he told reporters. "It is a war where innocent lives are endangered, not only by the terrorist who carries the bomb, but by those who recruit and equip the terrorists."
Under federal law, Masri would be eligible for the death penalty if convicted of the hostage-taking charges, Ashcroft noted. However, Britain has no death penalty and as policy refuses to extradite suspects to countries where they might face it. U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said that their side would probably agree to waive that sentence in extradition negotiations, which have already begun.
Masri is "the real deal," Raymond Kelly, the New York City police commissioner, said at a news conference. "Think of him as a freelance consultant to terrorist groups worldwide." Masri is alleged to have raised money at a New York mosque.
But other terrorism experts said that Masri by himself presented only a limited security threat, with his harsh rhetoric serving more as a public irritant for government officials in the United States and Britain. At the same time, they noted that his Finsbury Park mosque had played an important role in radical Islamic circles, attracting and encouraging militants such as Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui, the French citizen charged by U.S. prosecutors with conspiring with al Qaeda in the Sept. 11 attacks.
"He was very vocal but also very skillful about staying within the boundaries of free speech, otherwise he would have been arrested right away for incitement," said Magnus Ranstorp, director of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. "He himself may not be an imminent threat, a clear and present danger, but he attracted these elements into an environment where jihad flourishes. . . . And it's always the guys who are in the background, who are less visible, who are more interesting from an intelligence point of view."
Legal experts cautioned that it could take months or years for the extradition process to play out and that it remains to be seen if Masri will ever face trial in the United States. He is also wanted in Yemen. Britain has refused to hand him over in part because the two nations do not have an extradition treaty.
Masri had predicted that the U.S. government would come after him.
That apparently reflected knowledge that U.S. prosecutors have been building a case against him for months. In February, they gained the cooperation of a key witness, James Ujaama, an American citizen who became a Masri confidant in the 1990s when he attended the Finsbury Park mosque.
Under a plea agreement, Ujaama admitted to illegally conspiring to provide goods to the former Taliban administration in Afghanistan. He admitted that he and a co-conspirator were sent by Masri to Afghanistan in 2000 for jihad training, and that he delivered currency "to persons in the territory of Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban."
In September 2001, according to the plea agreement, Ujaama ferried money at the direction of a co-conspirator from London to Pakistan "with the intent of delivering it to persons in Afghanistan."
Prosecutors had also alleged that in 1999 Ujaama and Masri worked together to try to establish a terror training camp in Bly, Ore. Ujaama faxed Masri a document that compared property there to the terrain in Afghanistan and said it could be used as a place to hide weapons.
Ujaama, who is now in federal custody but could be freed as early as July under the terms of the plea agreement, did not admit to charges related to the alleged camp. Federal authorities say the camp was never actually established.
Masri has admitted knowing Ujaama but denied taking part in any terrorist conspiracy with him.
In Thursday's indictment, U.S. prosecutors accused Masri of being part of a conspiracy to set up the Oregon camp. While Ujaama is not named in the indictment, the court papers refer to the fax about the Bly property. The indictment says that a co-conspirator communicated to Masri that he and others were stockpiling weapons and ammunition in the United States.
The indictment also alleges that in 2000, Masri helped raise an unspecified amount of money from his mosque in London and an unidentified mosque in New York to send recruits to a jihad training camp in Afghanistan and to provide support for al Qaeda leaders there.
It alleges that he raised about $10,000 to build a computer lab in Kandahar intended for the benefit of the Taliban.
The indictment also accuses Masri of giving support and directions to a militant group called the Islamic Army of Aden in December 1998 when it kidnapped 16 Western tourists, including 12 Britons and two Americans, in Yemen. According to the indictment, Masri provided a satellite phone to the group and received three calls in London the day before the hostages were taken. He also spoke to the group's leader while the kidnapping was underway and offered to serve as an intermediary, the indictment states.
A day later, the Yemeni military mounted a rescue operation that resulted in a gunfight and the deaths of four of the hostages.
Yemen has also sought Masri for his alleged role in a bomb plot around the same time. In that case, police arrested a carload of 10 radicals, including Masri's son, after discovering that they were carrying explosives and planning to attack a British consulate and two churches, according to Yemeni officials.
Yemen's leaders complained that Britain has thwarted their attempts to gain custody of Masri. Rashid Alimi, Yemen's interior minister, said in a telephone interview from Sanaa, the capital, that the government had provided British officials with a thick file documenting Masri's alleged role in the crime and was disturbed at the lack of cooperation.
In contrast, Alimi said, Yemen had worked closely with the United States in a joint bid to go after Masri: "We're very pleased and hoping he'll be extradited to the U.S. What is most important for us is that Abu Hamza receive justice, whether he is tried in Yemen or the U.S., as long as justice is done."
Schmidt reported from Washington.
Oregon Jihad Camp plot linked to H. Rap Brown - aka Jamil Al Amin jailed,Omar Abdel Rahman and James Ujaama since 2002
Los Angles Tim
July 20, 2002
FBI Targets Black Muslims in Anti-Terrorist Watch
By PATRICK J. MCDONNELL
SEATTLE -- The brawny man in the Muslim skullcap gestured toward a brick
apartment building across the street from where he was standing guard at
shelter for homeless families.
"See that window over there?" said the man, Abdul-Hakim, pointing to an
upper floor. "The FBI watches me from that window."
The FBI will not comment. But a federal investigation of a possibl
terrorist cell in the Pacific Northwest is focusing on a group of African
American converts to Islam, possibly opening a new chapter in the domesti
war on terrorism.
Across the nation, court papers suggest that FBI anxiety about radical
African American Muslims has reemerged in the last decade as the bureau h
concentrated on Islamic terrorism.
Federal investigations into the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and
related plot to blow up New York landmarks discovered the names of black
Americans associated with the "blind sheik," Omar Abdel Rahman, now serving
a life term for his part in the bombing conspiracy. Among those convicted in
the same plot was U.S.-born Rodney Hampton-el, a former New York clini
worker and ex-moujahedeen volunteer in Afghanistan.
"FBI scrutiny of African American Muslims has clearly increased since th
 World Trade Center bombing," said Ihsan Bagby, a professor at Shaw
University in North Carolina who has studied the nation's Muslims. "A lot of
this is a combination of a focus on terrorism and an agenda about black
'radicals' and Muslims--all lumped together."
The Seattle investigation turns on the notion that foreign terrorists may
have recruited on U.S. soil among African American Muslims, and may even
have sponsored a "jihad training camp" in the Oregon backcountry with U.S.
collaborators. Law enforcement documents obtained by The Times say that an
American man who worshiped at one of the mosques here may have served
liaison for recruits seeking entry into Afghan terrorist training camps. In
addition, documents show, he and his brother were suspected of scouting
targets "for a terrorist operation" during a road trip back to Seattle last
The inquiry has sent a shudder through a small, insular community who
members view themselves as having worked hard to banish crack dealers from
Abdul-Hakim says he worshiped with the two brothers. He said neither th
brothers nor anyone else associated with the case ever advocated violence or
terrorism. Most, if not all, strongly opposed U.S. policy in the Middl
East, Abdul-Hakim said, but none ever preached violence.
"We're still trying to figure out what Al Qaeda is," said Abdul-Hakim.
"Muslims are under attack worldwide. Why are Muslims the only people not
allowed to train in self-defense?"
The specter of terrorism also surfaced in the case of Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin
(formerly H. Rap Brown, the onetime black power firebrand), a charismati
Muslim convert who received a life sentence in Atlanta this spring for
killing a sheriff's deputy in a shootout. The FBI investigated Al-Amin
suspected terrorist in the years after the World Trade Center bombing, but
Al-Amin was never charged.
The movement founded by Al-Amin may be indirectly linked to the case in
Seattle. The mosques in question here were said to have at least an informal
affiliation with his group.
Like the great majority of African American Muslims, neither the Atlanta nor
Seattle groups were affiliated with the Nation of Islam and its leader,
Louis Farrakhan, who promotes a black nationalist agenda. Instead, th
Muslims now drawing federal attention attend mosques espousing a pro-Islam
philosophy widely shared in the Muslim world.
"It's not the policy of the FBI to investigate mosques or any other
religious institution," said Charles Mandigo, the FBI chief in Seattle. "Any
investigations that the FBI may be conducting would be based on the action
of individuals and not their religion, national origin, race, or any other
Nevertheless, the disquieting scenario of home-grown terrorist recruits h
set off alarms. A confidential FBI alert on the Seattle case last month w
sent to field offices--as well as to the White House, CIA, State Department
and other assorted government agencies. A copy was obtained by The Times.
The two brothers apparently targeted in the Seattle case--who had not
previously been publicly identified--issued a news release on Monday denying
any links to terrorism.
The release identified the pair as James and Mustafa Ujaama. According to
the FBI document, they were born in Denver, reared in Seattle and their
given names and ages are Earl James Thompson, 36, and Jon Alexander
"These two gentlemen are community activists, not terrorists," declared Ron
Sims, the King County executive, who is the highest-ranking African American
elected official in the state of Washington. "It's the McCarthy era all over
again," said Charlie James, who heads a group called the Organization of
African American Unity and who issued the news release on behalf of th
Neither brother has been charged with a crime, and neither has been
questioned by the FBI, but both have been subject to considerabl
surveillance, the law enforcement documents indicate.
The two brothers, along with others under scrutiny, worshiped at several
now-defunct storefront mosques just east of downtown Seattle that have been
tied to Semi Osman, an immigrant of apparent Lebanese origin, who served
an imam, or prayer leader. Osman, 32, is a car mechanic and U.S. Navy
reservist and is the only person known to have been arrested in the inquiry.
He was charged with immigration and gun violations, but his attorney, Robert
M. Leen, said the government is pressuring Osman to tell all about former
acquaintances as part of the terrorism investigation.
A search warrant executed at Osman's home turned up several weapons,
anti-U.S. Islamic literature, military maps and "instructions on poisoning
water sources," according to the federal law enforcement document. Leen said
he had seen no evidence that water-poisoning directions were seized.
Acquaintances describe the two brothers targeted by the FBI as hard-working
fathers with small children. The younger sibling lives in Seattle and mak
his living as a mechanic and used-car salesman.
The older brother is an "entrepreneur" based in London, according to Charli
James. The older brother has written and privately published several
inspirational books aimed at young African Americans. One book is called
"The Young People's Guide To Starting a Business Without Selling Drugs."
The older sibling also is reported to be the founder of stopamerica.org,
Web site harshly critical of U.S. actions abroad. The site lists offices in
London; Karachi, Pakistan; and at an unspecified address on south Crenshaw
Boulevard in Los Angeles.
"America's foreign policy makers have brought hate to the people of th
United States," E.J. Ujaama states in a "founder's message" on the site. "W
the people of the United States charge this government and their coalition
with conspiracy to commit genocide and crimes of terrorism against Muslim
people in our names."
In particular, the FBI inquiry has zeroed in on the elder brother's supposed
relationship with Abu Hamza al-Masri, a militant London-based sheik whom
U.S. authorities regard as a recruiter for Al Qaeda. The FBI document stat
that the American "worked for and provided services to" the cleric,
including taking computers to the Taliban before the U.S. invasion.
According to the FBI document, the asserted "jihad training camp" w
carried out in November 1999 "in concert with" Hamza al-Masri at a ranch in
the secluded community of Bly, in south-central Oregon. The London sheik,
whose Finsbury Park mosque is a center of radical Islam in Europe, h
denied any connection.
The two brothers did travel to Bly, James conceded, but he said the trip w
for recreational "practice shooting," not for terrorism training. The FBI i
attempting to determine who visited the site.
The wide-ranging investigation based here may have arisen from intelligen
gleaned from interrogations of prisoners at the U.S. military lockup at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Specifically, the documents cite the case of a British citizen, Feroz
Abbasi, who was captured in December by U.S. forces while allegedly
defending the former Taliban stronghold of Kunduz. U.S. authorities stat
that the elder of the Seattle brothers introduced Abbasi "to individuals at
Al Qaeda facilities in Afghanistan," thus enabling his "matriculation" into
a "terror training camp."
Now, in Seattle, "the FBI is watching all the time," said Abdul-Hakim, th
By Abdul-Hakim's account, the Muslims at the mosques in question her
adhered to ostensibly mainstream teachings of Islam, worshiping alongsid
immigrants from Africa, Asia and elsewhere. Along with providing spiritual
guidance, the mosques take an active role in helping to purge the area of
crack purveyors and other criminals, which occasionally results in conflict
with drug dealers.
One of the mosques ran afoul of the clientele of a bar-poolroom a few door
down. At some point, according to police, officers responding to a report of
an assault were told weapons had been stored in the mosque. Worshiper
maintained that the arms were for self-defense against drug dealers and
others; the weapons may have been placed there by unauthorized mosqu
visitors, according to Abdul-Hakim. No charges were filed.
At one of the Seattle mosques, Osman became involved in discussions about
how to obtain a steady source of meat prepared according to Muslim dietary
laws, or halal meat.That's when congregants first heard that he was moving
to Bly, apparently with a plan to raise sheep and goats to produce halal
meat, Abdul-Hakim said..
Some fellow worshipers visited Osman in Bly, almost 400 miles southeast of
Seattle. Among them were the two brothers from the mosque--for "target
practice," according to James. According to the FBI document, Osman "helped
coordinate" the "jihad training."
Osman is believed to have lived at a 160-acre ranch near Bly with his wife,
Angelica, a U.S.-born convert to Muslim, and her daughter, now 11, for
several months beginning in late 1999. Neighbors said they saw and heard
little evidence--such as automatic gunfire or large groups of stranger
coming and going--that would have signaled a training camp. Nor were many
African Americans or foreigners seen in a place where they would stand out.
A knowledgeable source reported that after the Sept. 11 attacks, the FBI
reviewed a December 1999 traffic stop of Osman. Two of his passengers may
have been top aides to Hamza al-Masri, the controversial London sheik, th
After his livestock operation foundered, Osman and his family moved out.
They eventually settled in Tacoma, Wash., and Osman enrolled in a computer
course at a nearby university, continued his Navy Reserve drills and again
worked as a car mechanic. But he hurt his back in an accident and was unabl
to put in many hours, said the station owner, Mohammad Siddiqui, an Indian
Muslim who, like other co-workers, found Osman more enthusiastic about
religion and politics than fixing cars.
"He [Osman] talked a little bit too much," Siddiqui said as he rang u
gasoline sales on a recent afternoon. "These days, talk can get you into
Times staff writer William C. Rempel and researcher Nona Yates contributed
to this report.