News / USA

Trial of Egyptian Cleric Opens in New York

Trial of Egyptian Cleric Opens in New Yorki
X
Carolyn Weaver
April 18, 2014 1:55 AM
The federal trial of terror suspect Abu Hamza al-Masri is under way in the U.S. Testimony began Thursday in a New York courtroom where the Egyptian cleric faces multiple terror-related charges. His trial began with opening statements by attorneys, as VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Carolyn Weaver
The U.S. federal trial of terror suspect Abu Hamza al-Masri began Thursday in a New York courtroom where the Egyptian-born cleric faces multiple terror-related charges.
 
Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Kim told the jury that the radical imam, whose birth name is Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, used his London mosque and religion as a cover to support terrorism for violent jihad.
 
He said Abu Hamza aided a hostage-taking in Yemen, in which four hostages were killed, helped direct a terrorist training camp in the northwestern U.S. state of Oregon, and sent men to train with al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
 
Defense attorney Joshua Dratel responded that Hamza is innocent, and that he engaged in “harsh” rhetoric merely to keep his more extreme followers from drifting away. He said Hamza’s only role in the Yemen hostage-taking was attempting to negotiate a peaceful resolution, and he noted that Hamza never traveled to Yemen or Oregon. Dratel also said that British security sometimes sought out Abu Hamza to help prevent violence among his followers.  
 
Hamza, who says he lost an eye and both of his hands while fighting the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, although other sources say it was in a training camp accident, was sentenced by Britain to seven years in prison in 2006 after being convicted of inciting race hatred and murder. Following a years-long legal battle, Britain extradited him in 2012 to face trial in a U.S. civil court, rather than before a military tribunal.
 
Seton Hall University law professor Bernard Freamon said that was the right decision.
 
“Of all the federal courts, this federal trial court is probably the most highly regarded,” he said. “So when you try someone, even someone accused of terrorism in a court like this, the government is under a microscope. It has to give the defendant all the rights that he deserves. That’s not so in a military trial. In a military tribunal, much is done in secret, and the defendant does not have anywhere near the due process rights that he would get here in downtown New York.”
 
At the same time, Freamon noted, the trial is being held within blocks of the site of the September 11, 2011 terror attacks on the World Trade Center - attacks praised by Abu Hamza.
 
“He had nothing to do with 9/11, at least there are no charges against him in terms of 9/11, so I think it might have been better to try him somewhere else in the United States,” Freamon said. “But the government can do that, and they think that part of the act of doing justice is to try him in the district where the terrible events of 9/11 occurred.”
 
The first witness in the case, Angelica Morris, testified about seeing men training with guns at an alleged jihadist training camp in the northwestern state of Oregon in 1999 and 2000. She also described witnessing a mock demonstration of how to slit someone’s throat.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs