NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — An Egyptian Islamic preacher brought to the United States on charges that he supported terrorism around the world from his perch at a London mosque has been found guilty.
Jurors in federal court in Manhattan returned their verdict Monday in the case against Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, convicting him on 11 terrorism-related counts, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell report.
Also known by the aliases Abu Hamza and Abu Hamza al-Masri, Mustafa was found guilty of providing support to the kidnappers of 16 tourists in Yemen in 1998, attempting to set up a jihad training camp outside Bly, Ore., and providing material support to al Qaeda in Afghanistan. In the kidnapping, four victims were killed in a shootout with Yemeni soldiers.
Prosecutors cited speeches and taped interviews to show that Mustafa conspired to aid the terrorist organizations.
Mustafa took the stand in his own defense, insisting he never supported terrorists and accusing prosecutors of taking his remarks out of context. He, however, had trouble keeping his story straight about a satellite phone he purchased that ended up in the hands of the Yemeni kidnappers — first saying the phone had been stolen, then saying he had given the phone to the militants so that victims could contact their families and embassies, Cornell reported.
One of the kidnapping victims, Mary Quin, of New Zealand, testified that she tracked down Mustafa in London and questioned him.
Mustafa admitted to her that he spoke to the lead kidnapper by satellite phone during the abduction, which he said was a good thing, according to Quin’s testimony. He told Quin she and the others were snatched so they could be exchanged for prisoners, the witness testified.
Defense attorney Joshua Dratel told Cornell that he didn’t believe the verdict was about evidence, but was the result of the jury’s visceral reaction to Mustafa, who lost both hands and one eye in an explosion.
“That was unfortunately what happened here,” Dratel said.
But the jury’s foreman told Cornell the verdict was based solely on evidence, adding that the satellite phone was very damning for Mustafa’s case.
The verdict comes only 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.
“Once again the men and women of this office and the FBI have brought a notorious terrorist before the bar of American justice and once again the men and women of an American jury, having weighed the evidence, have found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. ” We are gratified that the jury has returned a unanimous verdict of guilt against Mustafa Kamala Mustafa, also known as ‘Abu Hamza.’ The defendant stands convicted, not for what he said, but for what he did. Abu Hamza was not just a preacher of faith, but a trainer of terrorists.”
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