Feds Say Videos Show the ‘Real Abu Hamza’

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Jurors may have seen a “calm, accepting man” deny supporting terrorism across the globe, but footage in which the imam praises the World Trade Center attacks reflects the “real Abu Hamza,” a federal prosecutor said Wednesday.
     “Abu Hamza, the defendant, directed his life to violent jihad,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick McGinley said in closing arguments. “That was his choice.”
     Radical preacher Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, better known by his Arabic name Abu Hamza al-Masri, spent seven years in a London prison for inciting racial hatred in his incendiary sermons approving of “enslaving” or killing nonbelievers “like a cow, a pig.”
     “Abu Hamza said what he was going to do,” McGinley said. “He wrote what he was going to do, and then he did it.”
     After serving his sentence in England for hate-speech crimes, Abu Hamza now stands accused of aiding a 1998 plot to abduct 16 British and U.S. tourists in Yemen, four of whom were killed, an allegation he never faced in London.
     He also is charged with recruiting men to fight with al-Qaida and the Taliban, in plots dating well before Sept. 11, 2001.
     “It’s long past time that he is held responsible for the death and terror that he caused,” McGinley thundered as his argument drew to a close.
     In sharp contrast, defense attorney Jeremy Schneider began his arguments by quipping: “That was pretty good, huh?”
     Foregoing the video slideshow equipment used by the prosecutor, the Bronx-raised Schneider cajoled jurors with jokes and banter. He acknowledged that his client’s taped statements meant he had his work “cut out for him.”
     “Can a man who ranted and raved for years about anti-American sentiments get a fair trail in front of a New York jury in the shadow of the World Trade Center?” he asked.
     Both parties agreed that Abu Hamza is not on trial for his speeches, which are not crimes in the United States.
     “Why do these words matter?” prosecutor McGinley asked. “Because they match his actions. They match his crimes.”
     Abu Hamza admits he gave the hostage-takers the satellite phone used in the operation and that he served as their “mouthpiece,” but he denies that he knew about the plot in advance, or played any role in its operation.
     Two survivors of the kidnapping, Mary Quin and Margaret Thompson, testified about that incident.
     Thompson limped into court to recount how a bullet shattered her femur, and the titanium rod inserted into her leg left her gait uneven.
     Quin produced a 45-minute tape of her talking with Abu Hamza at London’s Finsbury Park mosque, where he served as an imam.
     Calling that tape a “confession of this crime,” McGinley said that the survivors deserve justice a decade and a half later.
     “Don’t let the passage of time diminish what he did,” the prosecutor urged.
     Justifying the hostage-taking to Quin, Abu Hamza said, “Islamically, it is a good thing to do” because “we had been giving warnings, ‘Don’t come. Don’t come.'”
     Abu Hamza apparently referred to his communiqués from his London-based group Supporters of Sharia, urging foreigners to keep out of the south of Yemen and calling upon Muslims to support a militant group named the Islamic Army of Aden.
     Referring to this release, defense attorney Schneider said: “The warning is not the action of a kidnapper.”
     “Yemen was a tragedy,” he said. “Make no mistake about it.”
     On the day of the kidnapping, Abu Hamza bought 500 British pounds worth of minutes to the phone he gave to lead hostage-taker Abu Hassan. The preacher testified that he wanted Abu Hassan to allow the hostages to contact their embassies.
     “It shows that he’s trying to alleviate the situation,” Schneider said.
     Another set of charges in Abu Hamza’s 11-count indictment relate to a so-called “terror camp” his former congregants tried to set up in Bly, Ore.
     Although it fizzled out within a few months in late 1999, the short-lived training camp spurred multiple terrorism prosecutions. Its creator James Ujaama sent Abu Hamza a fax pitching the project.
     “The land that we spoke of is about 160 acres and looks just like Afghanistan with mountains and small trees, dry, hot and cold extreme temperatures,” it stated. “It is 100 percent legal and so are all of our activities. The land is in a state that is a pro-militia and firearms state.”
     McGinley said that Abu Hamza sent two of his “lieutenants” from London’s Finsbury Park mosque to Oregon to train for fighting with the Taliban. One of them, Oussama Kassir, taught an 18-year-old how to slit a man’s throat, one witness testified.
     “There have been suggestions that what happened in the United States was not really a training camp, that it was a form of camping,” McGinley said. “No way.”
     Likening it to an “Islamic commune,” Schneider said that the “armed patrols” of which prosecutors spoke shot only at coyotes threatening sheep on the ranch, and said that testimony about campfire chats and target practice at a fake deer showed “what did or did not happen at Bly.”
     “They were training to be coyote-protecting Cub Scouts,” Schneider said.
     The last set of charges involve Londoner Feroz Abbasi’s trip to Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001, where prosecutors say he was seen in an al-Qaida safe house.
     Abbasi spent three years without charges in the U.S. Navy prison in Guantanamo Bay before the Pentagon released him without charges. Neither of the parties mentioned this fact throughout trial.
     Prosecutors insist that Abbasi was a dangerous man, and they hope to convict Abu Hamza of recruiting him to al-Qaida’s al-Farouq training camp in Afghanistan.
     Attempted “shoe-bomber” Saajid Badat, now a cooperating witness, claimed that he saw Abbasi there digging a spade into dirt.
     “He’s been trained to be a gardener,” Schneider quipped.
     During rebuttal, prosecutor John Cronan drew an angry objection from the defense table by telling jurors that Abbasi was captured “shoulder-to-shoulder with al-Qaida.”
     “There’s no evidence of that at all,” Schneider told the judge.
     U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest later said she would review to transcript to see whether she needed to instruct the jury to disregard the remark. Their deliberations will begin Thursday.

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