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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid