Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Preacher fails to quash terror case

Mustafa Kamel Mustafa faces trial in March on charges filed in Manhattan
Mustafa Kamel Mustafa faces trial in March on charges filed in Manhattan

A US judge has refused to quash terrorism charges facing an Egyptian Islamic preacher extradited from Britain.

US District Judge Katherine Forrest said she would decide during a trial next year whether government references to al Qaida being led by Osama bin Laden more than a decade ago and other statements were inflammatory.

Judge Forrest left intact the 11-count indictment brought against Mustafa Kamel Mustafa as she ruled in New York on pre-trial motions.

Mustafa faces trial in March on charges filed in Manhattan after his arrest in England in 2004. He was extradited to the United States last year. His lawyers had asked the judge to dismiss charges including conspiracy to take hostages, hostage-taking and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

Prosecutors say Mustafa conspired with Seattle men to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and helped to abduct two American tourists and 14 others in Yemen in 1998.

Defence lawyer Joshua Dratel said he was disappointed that motions were denied, but had not fully read the opinion.

The judge, in declining to dismiss the indictment, said the deciding issue was whether the crimes were calculated to harm American citizens and interests, not whether the defendant was in the US, participated in communications into or out of the US, or transacted business in the US.

She said the facts in the indictment were "plainly sufficient" to support the charges even if Mustafa had no expectation that he would be prosecuted in the United States. She said Mustafa was on notice that his actions could harm US people and interests because al Qaida had made statements that it wanted to harm America.

Defence arguments that an allegation in the indictment that Mustafa was on the telephone and advising hostage takers during their criminal acts was insufficient to identify his participation in a crime "is simply wrong", she wrote. "Even so," she added, "defendant is alleged to have done more: to have equipped the hostage takers with a means of communication - which, for hostage taking to achieve its purposes can be a critical tool - and have purchased additional minutes so that the hostage takers could succeed in their criminal activities."

The judge also said the allegations about setting up a holy war, or jihad, training camp in Bly, Oregon, were sufficient.

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