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Britain is now set to extradite its most recognizable extremist, Abu Hamza al-Masri, pictured in 2004.
FILE/MAX NASH/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 9/26/2012
LONDON--He's reviled as the one-eyed, hook-handed terror suspect so troublesome that even Queen Elizabeth II reportedly felt moved to wonder why he remained at liberty despite his fiery call for a jihad, or holy war.
Britain is now set to extradite its most recognizable extremist--Mustafa Kamal Mustafa, who is better known as Abu Hamza al-Masri--to the United States, deporting him to face terrorism charges, including allegedly helping set up a terrorist training camp in rural Oregon.
"This is a person who has been a blight on this country from more than a decade," said Robin Simcox, a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based foreign-affairs think tank. "I don't think there will be many people shedding a tear."
It's been a long time coming: A European court decision Monday cleared the way for his extradition and that of four other terror suspects after an eight-year legal battle. He could be deported within weeks.
Britain's tabloid newspapers ran unflattering photos of the familiar, gray-bearded cleric and expressed cheerful satisfaction Tuesday that the preacher known for his anti-Western sermons might be sent away to face the consequences for his virulent sermons. The Sun tabloid headlined "Off: The Hook. Hate-filled Hamza can be deported to the United States."
For years, the Egyptian-born former nightclub bouncer, who claimed he lost his eye and hands fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, used his base in north London's Finsbury Park Mosque to persuade a young congregation to take up the cause of holy war. The mosque was once attended by both Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid.
After the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the cleric declared that, "many people will be happy, jumping up and down at this moment."
When authorities raided the mosque, he simply moved outside, holding his sermons on the street, castigating Britain and calling for holy war.
The national frustration apparently rose to the head of state--the monarch--whose views are rarely given a public airing. Buckingham Palace refused to comment on a BBC report by security correspondent Frank Gardner, who said he had spoken with the queen and that she had mentioned that she told the senior government official in charge of law and order that she had been upset there was no way to arrest the preacher of hate.
"This is a conversation we had a little while ago and she did say that she had mentioned to--I don't know which home secretary it was at the time--that was there not some law he had broken?" Gardner told the "Today" program. "I wouldn't say she was necessarily lobbying, that's not for me to say, but like anybody she was upset that her country and her subjects had been denigrated by this man who was using this country as a platform for his very violent, hateful views."
BBC apologized later for the breach of her confidence.