British Muslim cleric convicted in U.S. on terror charges

Anthony Weiss

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — A British imam was convicted in a U.S. court on terrorism-related charges linking him to al-Qaida and a fatal kidnapping plot.

Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, a former imam at London’s Finsbury Park mosque, was found guilty by a Manhattan jury on all 11 charges following a four-week trial. The jury found that Mustafa had been involved in a 1998 kidnapping in Yemen that left four people dead. He also was convicted of recruiting for al-Qaida and attempting to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon.

The Muslim cleric is facing a sentence of up to life in prison.

His trial was held after he had served seven years in a British prison on separate charges of inciting racial hatred and soliciting murder, according to The New York Times. Mustafa was subsequently extradited to the United States to face the terrorism charges.

Mustafa, who is also known as Abu Hamza al-Masri, had denied any involvement in the kidnapping plot, in which 16 tourists were taken hostage. Four were subsequently killed when the abductors used them as human shields during a rescue raid.

Mustafa insisted that he had only acted as a spokesman for the kidnappers, but prosecutors charged that he had given a satellite phone to the lead kidnapper and exchanged phone calls with the kidnapper before and during the kidnapping. Prosecutors also pointed to a recorded interview that Mustafa gave to one of the former hostages after she had been rescued.

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