Abu Hamza and four other alleged al-Qaeda plotters appear in US courts
Alleged al-Qaeda mastermind Abu Hamza al-Masri and four others face terror-related charges in US after losing extradition battle in Britain
A US judge has ordered Islamist preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri, who is seen by Washington as an Al-Qaeda mastermind, be kept in detention as he was refused the prosthetics - including his signature metal hook - that he wears because of his missing forearms.
Hamza and four other terror suspects who were extradited overnight from Britain appeared in US court in the latest stage of a transatlantic legal saga. All men except Hamza, who entered no plea, pleaded not guilty.
The one-eyed extremist, whose trademark hook on the stump of his right arm and other prosthetic limbs were removed, did not speak at the hearing in New York, except for a few words muttered to his court-appointed lawyer on Saturday.
Hamza claims to have lost his hands fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. His lawyers in England said he suffers from depression, chronic sleep deprivation, diabetes and other ailments.
Hamza, 54, faces terror charges over a 1998 kidnapping in Yemen, setting up an al-Qaeda-style training camp in the northwestern state of Oregon and for "facilitating violent jihad" in Afghanistan. He will be formally charged tomorrow.
Wearing a blue prisoner's outfit, the long-bearded Hamza kept his shaved head of white hair bowed during the hearing before US Magistrate Judge Frank Maas, who summarised the 11 charges before him.
Sabrina Shroff, a lawyer for the cleric, requested the authorities return his special shoes, without which "he will not be able to function in a civilized way", and requested medical care on account of his diabetes.
Appearing in the same New York court were Egyptian Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled Al-Fawwaz of Saudi Arabia, 50. They are both charged with conspiring with members of al-Qaeda to kill US nationals and attack US interests abroad.
Bary, 52, is also charged with murder, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and other offences in connection with the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Those blasts destroyed the buildings, killing 224 people and injuring thousands more.
Two others, British citizens Babar Ahmad and Syed Tahla Ahsan, appeared before a judge in New Haven, Connecticut. They were ordered to be held in custody. Another hearing is set for October 15.
Ahmad, 38, and Ahsan, 33, are charged with terror-related offences stemming from their involvement in Azzam Publications in London, which allegedly provided material support to militant Chechen separatists, the Taliban and associated terrorist groups. They were arrested in 2004 and 2006, respectively.
US officials hailed the extradition of Hamza and the other terror suspects as a "watershed moment" in Washington's battle against al-Qaeda.
His date with American justice, and those of Bary and Fawwaz, "makes good on a promise to the American people to use every available diplomatic, legal and administrative tool to pursue and prosecute charged terrorists no matter how long it takes," US Attorney Preet Bharara said.
Hamza rose to prominence after giving fiery sermons at the Finsbury Park mosque in London, but has been jailed in Britain for eight years after being convicted of soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred.
He failed to convince British judges that his extradition should be blocked to allow medical tests to be carried out over alleged depression.
The judges said they were "wholly unpersuaded" that he was unfit to face trial, and added that "the sooner he is put on trial, the better," dismissing arguments that this rights would be breached in US custody.
Additional reporting by Associated Press