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British Imam Convicted In U.S. Of Terrorism Charges Gets Life

Abu Hamza al-Masri, also known as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, at a 2002 fundamentalist Islamic conference in London, where he condemned what he called oppression of Muslims in the West. Masri was sentenced Friday in U.S. court to life in prison on terrorism-related charges.
Alistair Fuller

Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, who was convicted eight months ago of federal terrorism-related charges in New York, has been sentenced to life in prison.

Masri, also known as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, was arrested by British authorities in 2004. In the U.K., he was found guilty of several charges, one of which was terrorism-related.

In the U.K., he was convicted of inciting hatred at his North London mosque during weekly Friday prayer sessions, where he encouraged his followers to join a holy war against the West. He served seven years there before being extradited to the U.S. in 2012.

In U.S. federal court, he was found guilty of charges stemming from plots to kidnap tourists in Yemen in 1998 and efforts to build a jihadist training camp in rural Bly, Ore.

In sentencing Masri, 56, to life in prison, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest called his crimes "barbaric" and "misguided."

NPR's Bruce Auster, reporting in May at the time Masri was convicted, said that the Egyptian arrived in London in 1997.

"[So] this is four years before 9/11. ... He actually went to London and became a nightclub bouncer, but he ended up at the mosque and he became this sort of fiery extremist," Bruce told All Things Considered.

"He looked the part; you know, he was missing two hands, he had a glass eye and there was this sense of battlefield credibility. The idea was that he had gained his injuries while in Afghanistan in the late 1980s," Bruce said.

The Associated Press says: "Lawyers for Mustafa Kamel Mustafa had urged the judge to take into account that their client will have a particularly hard time in prison because he is missing hands and forearms and has other ailments."

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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