ABU Hamza al-Masri, the extremist preacher facing extradition to the United States for alleged terrorism offences, may be stripped of his prosthetic hook in prison amid fears it could pose a security risk.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled last month that Hamza and four other terrorism suspected can be extradited to the US to face trial. The preacher is wanted over an alleged plan to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and for helping jihadis in Yemen.
He is likely to be held at the ADX Florence 'super-max' prison in Fremont County, Colorado. The high security prison, dubbed the 'Alcatraz of the Rockies', holds inmates deemed the most dangerous and in need of tightest control.
Hamza, who wears a distinctive metal hook after losing his right hand in an explosion in Afghanistan may lose the prosthesis under a prison regime which prevent prisoners having access to improvised weapons.
"Any time an offender arrives at one of our facilities with a prosthetic device, that device is evaluated to determine if it causes any safety or security concerns," a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons said.
"If it is found to be a safety or security concern the device would not be permitted inside the facility and the inmate may be fitted for a prosthetic device that doesn't pose the same concerns."
Hamza's lawyers had unsuccessfully argued that conditions at ADX Florence amount to "inhuman or degrading treatment".
Inmates at the prison, dubbed a "clean version of hell" by one former warden, include Richard Reid, the shoe bomber; Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th 9/11 hijacker; and those who have murdered prisoners and guards in other, less secure prisons.
They are kept in cells measuring 7' by 12' for 23 hours a day. The bed, desk and stool are immovable and cast from poured concrete. Food is passed in through a slot in the double doors.
They are x-rayed or subject to body-cavity searches before re-entering their cells after showering. Such is the fear of inmates making improvised weapons they are restricted to one toothbrush at a time, with the handles filed down to a stump.
Mirrors are made of polished steel bolted to the wall, rather than glass.
Each cell has a slit window with a view only of the sky, making it difficult for inmates to know where they are being kept in the prison or to plan an escape. Exercise is taken alone in large cages outside, or in a windowless hall with a vaulted ceiling, likened to an empty swimming pool.
The prison was opened in 1994 after a spate of breakouts and guard killings in other institutions.