Abu Hamza pleads not guilty on US terrorism charges
British radical Islamic preacher Abu Hamza pleaded not guilty in a US court on Tuesday to 11 terrorism charges, including conspiring to set up an al-Qaeda-style training camp on American soil.
The one-eyed, handless 54-year-old appeared in Manhattan federal court without his trademark prosthetic hook that he wears on one arm and which was removed by US authorities after he was extradited from Britain last week.
The Egyptian-born cleric is being prosecuted under his birth name Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, though he is better known in radical circles as Abu Hamza Al-Masri, a former preacher at mosques in Britain.
Asked by Judge Katherine Forrest to confirm he wanted to plead not guilty to the charges, the grey-bearded defendant replied quietly: “Yes, your honour.”
It was his only statement during his hearing, at which he wore a blue prison smock.
Forrest set August 26 next year as the trial date and remanded Abu Hamza in custody in the maximum security detention centre attached to the downtown New York courthouse.
Also on Tuesday, two other men extradited along with Abu Hamza from Britain appeared before a different judge in the same courthouse.
Khaled al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary, charged with participating in the bloody 1998 bombings of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, will go to trial October 7, next year.
The trial of Abu Hamza, who allegedly tried to establish a militant training camp in the northwestern US state of Oregon and abducted tourists in Yemen, is expected to take six to eight weeks, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said they will soon provide a mountain of evidence, some of it classified, for review by Abu Hamza’s court-appointed defence lawyer, Jeremy Schneider.
This includes 8,500 pages of everything from statements by the defendant to the results of searches of his controversial mosque in Finsbury Park, London.
Another four hard drives and 24 DVDs containing documents and videos will also be submitted.
More immediately, Abu Hamza is keen to recover his prosthetic hands.
Schneider said he had use of them part of the day, “but not enough.”
“As you can imagine, he is not happy,” Schneider said. “He is having a hard time.”