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Last of Oregon ‘Terror Camp’ Trials Scheduled

MANHATTAN (CN) - After more than 15 years, the case of the supposed "terror camp" in Oregon appears to be headed for a speedy resolution.

Haroun Aswat, a 40-year-old British citizen, will stand trial on June 1, 2015, for allegedly helping to set up a training camp for Muslim fighters in Bly, Ore., in 1999.

The camp fizzled out a few months after its creation, and it has not been associated with a single terrorist attack. Prosecutors from coast to coast nevertheless have pursued the case vigorously since the indictments of the alleged participants by a grand jury in 2004.

Aswat's co-defendant Oussama Kassir, a Swede, is now serving a life sentence after his conviction by an Oregon jury five years ago.

Prosecutors say Aswat and Kassir went to Oregon at the behest of London's reputed "hate cleric" Abu Hamza, whom a federal jury convicted earlier this year.

The camp's founder James Ujaama, who is now cooperating with the government, testified against Hamza at the recent trial and pleaded guilty to similar charges in 2003.

Now the last man standing in the alleged conspiracy, Aswat arrived in New York last month after losing a longstanding extradition battle at the European Court of Human Rights, where he unsuccessfully argued that his schizophrenia diagnosis should bar his prosecution.

Aswat appeared lucid in court on Monday, where he was seated next to seasoned defense attorneys Peter Quijano and Anna Sideris.

During the brief hearing, Aswat's lawyers and prosecutors agreed upon a trial date, a motion deadline for late January and a status conference tentatively scheduled for Feb. 6.

The mounting convictions in the so-called "terror camp" cases have not quelled controversy about what, if anything, happened in Oregon over a decade ago. Critics note that one government witness likened the camp to a radical Islamic version of the "Cub Scouts" at Hamza's trial.

Aswat faces a maximum 35-year sentence if convicted next year of conspiracy, providing material support to terrorists and proving material support to al-Qaida.

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