Tuesday 16 January 2018

Hamza case jurors 'relied on facts'

Abu Hamza, pictured in London in 2004, has been found guilty of terror charges (AP)
Abu Hamza, pictured in London in 2004, has been found guilty of terror charges (AP)

Jurors kept emotions about terrorism out of deliberations over the fate of radical Islamic preacher Abu Hamza, the foreman who announced the guilty verdicts said.

The jury in New York deliberated for two days before concluding yesterday that Hamza, 56, provided material support to terrorist organisations by giving a satellite phone to kidnappers of tourists in Yemen in 1998, supporting plans to open an al-Qaida training camp in Bly, Oregon, and sending someone to an Afghanistan training camp.

"I never had 9/11 enter into my decision-making process," jury foreman Howard Bailynson said as he stood outside the Manhattan federal courthouse, which is near the site of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre.

During the trial, jurors heard a tape in which Hamza said: "Everybody was happy when the planes hit the World Trade Centre."

As he had after the conviction two months earlier of al-Qaida's spokesman following the September 11 attacks, US Attorney General Eric Holder used the verdict to boast that civil courts were better than military tribunals for terrorism cases.

"His conviction is as just as it was swift," Mr Holder said. "With each efficiently delivered guilty verdict against a top al Qaida-linked figure, the debate over how to best seek justice in these cases is quietly being put to rest."

Mr Bailynson said jurors relied on such factual evidence as a taped interview of Hamza conducted later by one of the hostages in the Yemen kidnapping rather than footage of him delivering the kind of fiery sermons that attracted extremists to his London mosque, reportedly including both 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid. Hamza denied ever meeting them.

Mr Bailynson, 44, said Hamza "was not tried on his words".

But defence lawyer Joshua Dratel disagreed, saying the verdict was "not about the evidence but about a visceral reaction to the defendant".

Sentencing was set for September 9, when Hamza, who was tried under the name Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, is expected to face a life term.

Hamza was extradited to the US in 2012 from Britain, where he led London's Finsbury Park Mosque in the 1990s.

Press Association

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