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U.K. To Extradite Radical Muslim Cleric To U.S.


Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri is seen leading prayers outside the North London Central Mosque in Finsbury Park, north London, in 2003.

Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri is seen leading prayers outside the North London Central Mosque in Finsbury Park, north London, in 2003.

Britain is preparing to extradite radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri to the United States after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that he can be sent to the United States to face terrorism charges.

The charges against Abu Hamza include an alleged attempt to set up an Al-Qaeda training camp in the northwestern U.S. state of Oregon.

The September 24 decision by the Strasbourg-based court ends a long-running legal battle and means that Abu Hamza and four other terrorism suspects may be deported within weeks.

Abu Hamza was arrested in Britain in 2004. Washington has for years asked for Abu Hamza and the others to be handed over.

The men had argued before the European court that they could face prison conditions in America that would expose them to torture.

In April, the court rejected those claims. Abu Hamza and the four others lodged an appeal to the court's highest judges, but the court refused to hear the appeal.

The U.S. Department of Justice and Britain's Home Office welcomed the decision.

British member of Parliament Keith Vaz, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, said Monday there was "no question" Abu Hamza should be sent to the United States.

"There is no question that Abu Hamza is a very dangerous man and that successive governments have been trying to remove him. That's why I warmly welcome the decision that has been taken today," Vaz said. "There is no question that he should be extradited to the United States."

Vaz added that the case had been going on for way too long and urged that Abu Hamza be extradited "as quickly as possible."

Abu Hamza is currently serving a seven-year prison term in Britain on separate charges of inciting hatred. He has lost several British court cases in his fight against extradition before taking the case to the European court in 2008.

The cleric, who is blind in one eye and wears a hook for a hand, says he has lost his Egyptian nationality, but Britain considers him an Egyptian citizen.

The other four suspects due to be extradited to the United States are Babar Ahmad, Syed Tahla Ahsan, Khaled al-Fawwaz, and Adel Abdul Bary.

The suspects could face life sentences in a maximum-security prison in the United States.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP
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