Abu Hamza faces deportation to US on terror charges

The extremist Muslim cleric Abu Hamza is facing an attempt to have him extradited to the United States on terror charges after one of his supporters agreed to testify against him.

Mr Hamza is already fighting a deportation battle with David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, who is using new immigration laws to try to strip him of British citizenship and return him to his birthplace, Egypt. He is also wanted in Yemen on terrorism charges.

An American Muslim called James Ujaama, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide cash, computers and fighters to the Taliban, has agreed to help federal prosecutors investigate Mr Hamza.

Ujaama, 37, ran Mr Hamza's website and worshipped at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London where the cleric, 44, preached.

In a plea bargain in Seattle on Monday, Ujaama agreed to help law enforcement and military authorities. Under the deal, he would supply information on Mr Hamza, a US government official said. In return, he had a potential 10-year sentence reduced to two.

American prosecutors are now examining possible charges against Mr Hamza and are expected to request his extradition. Investigators are focusing on an alleged operation to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon.

Ujaama admitted escorting Feroz Abassi, 23, a London student, to a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan. Mr Abassi is being held in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba after being arrested in Afghanistan.

Prosecutors said Ujaama converted to Islam and travelled to London in 1997, becoming a close associate of Mr Hamza. They said Mr Hamza provided Ujaama with a letter of introduction that enabled him to attend a terrorist camp in Afghanistan.

The US Government has frozen Mr Hamza's funds because of his alleged membership of the Islamic Army of Aden, the organisation that claimed responsibility for the bombing of the US destroyer Cole in Yemen on 12 October 2000, which killed 17 people.

But Mr Hamza's solicitors claimed that Ujaama had been "coerced" by the US authorities into giving evidence, whichcould lead to a "gross miscarriage of justice taking place".

In a statement, his lawyer, Muddassar Arani, said that in "previous comments" made by the US prosecutors they had "publicly stated that they would be asserting pressure on James Ujaama in order to coerce him to facilitate evidence of the nature that they wish to be provided with.

"It therefore comes as no surprise that James Ujaama, under such pressure, whilst on remand, away from his family who are in the UK, is likely to provide evidence which is tainted."

Mr Hamza has caused controversy in Britain with his vocal support of Islamic fundamentalism and claims that the 11 September attacks were a Jewish plot.

Mr Blunkett has accused Mr Hamza of encouraging extremists to take up terrorist training and is using a new law that allows people with dual nationality to be stripped of British citizenship if they act in a way that is judged "seriously prejudicial" to Britain's "vital interests".

Mr Hamza's lawyer confirmed her client would be appealing against Mr Blunkett's attempt to deport him. His appeal will first be heard before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, a tribunal run by the Home Office.

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