Abu Hamza 'changes name to escape past'
RADICAL preacher Abu Hamza is insisting he is called by a new name is an attempt to distance himself from his past, it has been claimed.
He is said to have instructed prison guards to call him by his birth name Mustafa Kamal Mustafa to allow him to shed the “enormous amount of baggage” brought about by his nom de guerre, Abu Hamza al Masri.
It was reported today that a Whitehall source said: “He is trying to shed the enormous amount of baggage associated with his old name.
“He can call himself what he likes officially but he will be forever known as Abu Hamza.”
The preacher, who is known for his prosthetic hook, was born Mustafa Kamel Mustafa in Alexandria, Egypt, on April 15, 1958.
After studying civil engineering and moving to London to be a nightclub bouncer, he married a British woman and went on to have seven children.
His marriage broke down and, in the early 1980s, he began showing an interest in Islam and politics and became a leading radical preacher.
In 1990 he divorced his wife and returned to Egypt where he reinvented himself as a Muslim ''holy man'' or sheikh.
He travelled to Pakistan and then on to Afghanistan, which was at the time gripped by a civil war as differing factions fought to fill the power vacuum left by the retreat of Russian troops.
It is unclear if he fought there, but when he returned to the UK with his British passport in the early 1990s he was missing his right hand and an eye.
He had changed his name to Abu Hamza al-Masri, calling for jihad against corrupt Middle Eastern regimes and working from the Finsbury Park Mosque in North London.
In January 1999 three British tourists were killed in Yemen, drawing public attention to the civil war between fundamentalists and the secular government there, which accused Abu Hamza of using his mosque to recruit Islamic warriors to the fundamentalist cause.
He was alleged to have been the leader of a cell called Supporters of Sharia and was accused of sending his son, Mustafa Kamel, to Yemen, where he and five other British Muslims were convicted on terrorist charges. Yemen said that it wanted him extradited.
But he continued to court controversy. Following the September 11 attacks in the US, he said: ''Many people will be happy, jumping up and down at this moment.''
In 2006, he given seven year prison sentence for 11 UK offences associated with his sermons, including soliciting to murder and stirring up racial hatred.
The European Court of Human Rights has now ruled he can be extradicted to the United States to stand trial on terror charges.
He will have until July 10 to appeal.