NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A prosecutor warned jurors Wednesday in closing arguments at a New York terrorism trial not to be fooled by the testimony of the defendant, a London imam charged with supporting al Qaeda. Then a defense lawyer urged them to put emotions aside and realize his client is not guilty.
As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, the contrasting accounts were offered Wednesday at the trial of Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, who’s accused of conspiring to support al Qaeda and aiding the kidnappers of 16 tourists in Yemen in 1998.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian McGinley said the 55-year-old Mustafa lied from the witness stand in a desperate attempt to separate himself from the kidnappers and his top two lieutenants, who traveled to Bly, Ore., to set up a jihad training camp.
“But these people are his followers,” the prosecutor said. “He’s the one common denominator in this criminal conduct spanning the globe.”
Defense attorney Jeremy Schneider said prosecutors took Mustafa’s words out of context.
The defense attorney asked whether Mustafa, a man who spent decades ranting against America and its policies, get a fair policy from a jury in New York, in the shadow of the World Trade Center attacks.
Mustafa, also known by the aliases Abu Hamza and Abu Hamza al-Masri, took the stand, denying he had any role in the training camp or abductions, in which four hostages were killed during a gunfight between the kidnappers and Yemeni soldiers.
“I’m no stranger to prison,” the defendant said last week. “If my freedom comes at the expense of my dignity and my beliefs, then I don’t want it.”
Mustafa has one eye and claims to have lost his hands fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.
The trial of Mustafa comes weeks after a jury in Manhattan convicted Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and al Qaeda’s spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks, of charges that will likely result in a life sentence.
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