Radical Islamist cleric extradited to the US from Britain pleads not guilty to charges and will face trial in August next year
Abu Hamza al-Masri, the radical Islamist cleric extradited to the US from Britain, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he conspired with American citizens to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon.
Abu Hamza entered the plea shortly before US district judge Katherine B Forrest set an August 2013 trial date. Abu Hamza is also accused of helping abduct 16 hostages, two of them American tourists, in Yemen in 1998.
Earlier two men brought from Britain to face terrorism charges made their first appearance before another Manhattan judge. Their trial was set for October next year.
Khaled al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary are charged with participating in the bombings of embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in August 1998. The attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. They were indicted in a case that also charged Osama bin Laden. Both pleaded not guilty on Saturday. The judge on Tuesday set their trial date for October 2013.
Abu Hamza, indicted under the name Mustafa Kamel Mustafa with al-Masri listed as an alias, became well known in the 1990s as his Finsbury Park mosque in London became a training ground for extremist Islamists including September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid. He had been jailed since 2004 in Britain on separate charges.
Abu Hamza has unusual needs in prison after losing part of each of his arms in what he says was a fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan.
He also is missing an eye. His lawyers in England said he suffers from depression, chronic sleep deprivation, diabetes and other ailments.
His court-appointed lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, said that he needed the use of his arms and wanted his prosthetics back. "Otherwise, he will not be able to function in a civilised manner." .
Traci Billingsley, a US Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman, said she could not provide specific information about individual inmates.
"In general, if an inmate arrives at any of our facilities with a prosthetic that we believe could pose a danger, it would not be permitted inside," she said, adding that the inmate would be medically evaluated to determine if other accommodations or devices would be appropriate.
John N Billock, head of the Orthotics and Prosthetics Rehabilitation Engineering Centre in Warren, Ohio, and a pioneer in the field, said a hook for a hand would "definitely be considered a weapon".
"You could brutalise somebody with it," he said. "You can put somebody's eyes out or knock out their teeth."
He said hooks are typically made of stainless steel or aluminium. The price of prosthetics in place of hands can range from $15,000 to $100,000 (£9,400 to £63,000), he said.
Abu Hamza is being held prior to trial in the same federal lockup where a prison guard lost an eye and was left brain damaged when he was stabbed with a sharpened comb in 2000 by a terrorism defendant awaiting trial in the embassy bombings plot.
Mamdouh Mahmud Salim is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to the stabbing.