Terror Suspects Appear in U.S. Courts after Extradition from Britain

Posted October 6th, 2012 at 12:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri was scheduled to appear before a U.S. federal judge in New York Saturday following his extradition from Britain on terrorism charges.

Officials say Hamza will be formally arraigned on Tuesday. The Egyptian-born former imam faces charges that include conspiring to set up a terrorist training camp in the state of Oregon and facilitating violent jihad in Afghanistan. He also is accused of helping abduct 16 Western tourists in Yemen in 1998. Four of the hostages were killed in the incident.

Hamza arrived in the United States early Saturday along with four other British citizens wanted on U.S. terrorism charges.

Two of the suspects, Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled al-Fawwaz, are wanted for their alleged roles in the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. They are accused of conspiring with al-Qaida in the bombings which killed 224 people. Those suspects were scheduled to be arraigned Saturday at the same court in New York.

The final two defendants, Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan, pleaded not guilty Saturday in a federal court in Connecticut to charges they supported terrorists through websites they ran. They will remain jailed pending trial. Critics of the extradition ruling argued the computer experts should remain in Britain because they are British citizens and were operating the websites from Britain.

The five men were flown to the United States after the British High Court rejected their last-minute appeals. They had raised legal questions about human rights and prison conditions they expected to face in the United States. In rejecting the appeals, the British court cited an “overwhelming public interest” in seeing the extraditions carried out.

Ahmad's father, Ashfaq Ahmad, was among a group of protesters gathered outside the court Friday. He made a speech saying his son's extradition would be “forever remembered as a shameful chapter in the history of Britain.”

“The system has let me down in a manner more befitting of a third world country than one of the world's oldest democracies.”

Ashfaq Ahmad also told reporters that while he now fears for his son's well-being, the final ruling came as no surprise.

Both British and European courts had earlier ruled in favor of the extraditions, triggering the appeals that were rejected Friday.