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Tags: US | | NYC Terror

Islamic Cleric Gets Life in Plot to Kidnap Tourists in Yemen

Friday, 09 January 2015 02:49 PM EST

NEW YORK (AP) — An Islamic cleric convicted of terrorism charges in a 1998 kidnapping that killed four tourists in Yemen and in failed plans to build a terrorist training camp in Oregon was sentenced Friday to life in prison by a judge who called his actions "barbaric" and "misguided."

Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, 56, remained composed as U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest announced the sentence, saying it was significant that "you have not expressed sympathy or remorse for the victims of the Yemeni kidnapping."

She called his actions "barbaric, misguided and wrong" and read aloud the names of the victims, saying: "With the passage of time, their names have not been lost."

Forrest said a life sentence was necessary in part because she believed Mustafa had "not had a change of heart" and would try to inspire others to commit violence if he were released.

Mustafa's lawyers had urged the judge to take into account that he is missing hands and forearms from what he described from the witness stand as a 1993 engineering accident involving explosives. He also suffers from psoriasis, diabetes and high blood pressure.

But Forrest said she will not prejudge the ability of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to properly evaluate Mustafa's needs and to designate an appropriate prison.

Given a chance to speak, Mustafa maintained his innocence and called for a worldwide investigation into the cause of the World Trade Center's collapse on Sept. 11, 2001. But otherwise, he spent most of 15 minutes complaining about his difficulties in prison as a double amputee with other health problems.

In May, a jury convicted Mustafa of aiding terrorists who kidnapped tourists in Yemen by consulting with their leader and by providing them with a satellite phone. He also was convicted of supporting terrorism by sending a recruit to Afghanistan for terror training and by helping others plot to open a terror training camp in Bly, Oregon.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: "Abu Hamza's blood-soaked journey from cleric to convict, from Imam to inmate, is now complete."

Defense attorney Sam Schmidt told Forrest on Friday that housing Mustafa, also known as Abu Hamza al-Masri, at Colorado's Supermax federal prison, sometimes referred to as the "Alcatraz of the Rockies," would violate assurances the United States made to British judges to secure his 2012 extradition to America.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Kim said Mustafa's effort to dictate where he imprisoned was part of his effort to remain in control.

Kim told Forrest that messages Mustafa repeatedly delivered from his pulpit at the Finsbury Park Mosque in London were hate-filled.

"His ideology was simple and it was brutal — non-Muslims should be killed," he said.

Kim said Mustafa was not convicted for his words.

"The defendant's crimes truly spanned the globe from Yemen to Afghanistan to the United States," he said.

Forrest said she reviewed tapes of an interview hostage victim Mary Quin, a U.S. citizen who now lives in New Zealand, conducted with Mustafa in his London mosque as she prepared to write a book.

The judge said she was struck that Mustafa referred to the kidnappings, saying: "We didn't know it would be that bad."

She said it was as if "you were remarking on a day that had rain when you thought there would be sunshine."

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

US, , NYC Terror
Friday, 09 January 2015 02:49 PM
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