NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An American who was kidnapped in Yemen in 1998 testified in the trial of an alleged terrorist Tuesday that she has never fully recovered from the terrifying experience.
Muslim cleric Mustafa Kamel Mustafa is on trial in New York on charges that he supported terrorism around the world. One of the conspiracy charges against him involves the kidnapping of 17 tourists in Yemen in December 1998, including Margaret Thompson. Mustafa also is known by the aliases Abu Hamza and Abu Hamza al-Masri.
As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, Thompson told the jury of being on an organized tour traveling in a convoy of five vehicles that were intercepted on the road by about 20 heavily armed men riding in pickup trucks. The Yemeni militants roughed up the travelers and singled out Americans, she testified.
Thompson described the eventual rescue attempt that led to a roadside shootout between her abductors and the Yemeni military. The hostages were trapped in the crossfire. Four were killed. Thompson was shot by a kidnapper, her left leg shattered.
Mustafa allegedly provided the kidnappers with advice and a satellite phone. His lawyers claim he tried to broker the hostages’ release.
Thompson testified that she had never heard of Mustafa before going to Yemen.
Mustafa has one eye and claims to have lost his hands fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. He is also accused of setting up an al Qaeda training camp outside Bly, Ore., in 1999 and 2000.
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