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Abu Hamza jailed for life in U.S


Radical cleric Abu Hamza is jailed for life in a US court

Radical cleric Abu Hamza is jailed for life in a US court

Radical cleric Abu Hamza is jailed for life in a US court

Radical cleric Abu Hamza has been sentenced to life in prison for a string of terrorism offences by a judge in New York.

British Governments spent a decade trying to extradite the preacher, 56, following allegations of his involvement in terrorist activities.

Hamza, previously of north London, was finally jailed by district judge Katherine Forrest at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan courthouse in Manhattan, New York.

Last year a jury found him guilty of supporting terrorist organisations, including aiding the taking of hostages in Yemen and seeking to set up an al Qaida training camp in the United States.

The cleric's lawyers asked the judge to consider Hamza's physical condition, particularly his amputations and high blood pressure, and suggested a lesser sentence at a prison medial centre.

During his trial in May last year, jurors heard a tape in which Hamza - tried under the name Mustafa Kamel Mustafa - said: ''Everybody was happy when the planes hit the World Trade Centre.''

Hamza led the Finsbury Park Mosque in the 1990s, reportedly attended by both September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid, though the cleric denied ever having met them.

The mosque has been linked to this week's attacks in France, with reports Charlie Hebdo massacre suspect Cherif Kouachi - shot dead after taking a man hostage this evening - was a follower of convicted terrorist and mosque regular Djamel Beghal.

Hamza later spread violent messages there following the attacks of September 11 2001.

Hamza was jailed in the UK for seven years for soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred in 2006 and first faced an extradition request from the Americans in 2004.

Donald Main, whose 34-year-old niece Ruth Williamson was among the Western tourists murdered in Yemen in 1998, said yesterday: "Ruth was a lively, very intelligent young woman and also a talented artist.

"My understanding is that British police possessed all the evidence that resulted in the decision announced today in the US. I have never understood why this judgment could not have been made many years ago by a UK court, thus avoiding the long very costly legal battles seeking to avoid extradition to the USA."

Commander Richard Walton, head of the Counter Terrorism Command, welcomed the sentence.

He said: "There will be great relief in the country that Abu Hamza has been convicted of such serious terrorist offences.

"We have worked closely with the FBI and US Department of Justice to achieve this result. The case underlines the importance of our co-operation with the FBI in tackling global terrorist threats."

The Met's Counter Terrorism unit said it was determined Hamza could not be prosecuted in the UK, and was extradited to the US. British detectives provided the FBI with a high volume of exhibits and case papers and assisted with the US prosecution.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: "I am pleased that Abu Hamza has finally faced justice. He used every opportunity, over many years, to frustrate and delay the extradition process.

"His conviction was facilitated by this Government's tireless work to successfully remove him from the UK to face trial.

"His sentence reflects the severity of his crimes and I am pleased he will spend the rest of his life behind bars where he belongs."

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