Abu Hamza to face charges of inciting racial hatred in UK

The controversial Muslim cleric Abu Hamza is to be charged with inciting racial hatred.

The controversial Muslim cleric Abu Hamza is to be charged with inciting racial hatred.

The radical preacher is not expected to be charged with any terrorist offences, but is accused of inciting hatred by allegedly calling on British Muslims to become suicide bombers.

Legal sources said the case had "deeply political" ramifications and the decision to charge Mr Hamza in Britain may have annoyed senior American officials.

Mr Hamza, 47, is already being held in a high-security jail, from where he is fighting attempts by the American government to extradite him and charge him with terrorism.

However, he will now go to trial in Britain after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) yesterday advised the police there was sufficient evidence to bring charges in this country.

Domestic charges take precedence over extradition hearings, although if Mr Hamza is cleared of offences in the United Kingdom the American authorities can restart their own legal action.

The Egyptian-born cleric has been held at Belmarsh prison in south-east London since May, but was arrested in August by the Metropolitan Police's anti-terrorist branch over allegations that he provided support to al-Qa'ida either through finance, recruiting or logistics.

He was later de-arrested but the criminal investigation was not dropped and the police advice file, based on inquiries over several months, was passed to the CPS.

The police evidence is understood to include tapes of Abu Hamza's sermons, which are alleged to incite racial hatred. In April he was recorded giving a sermon in which he allegedly told followers they came from a "culture of martyrdom" and should embrace the opportunity to "die honourably". He is also said to have denounced the West and its allies, and to have praised suicide bombers.

The former imam of Finsbury Park mosque is expected to be charged next week under one of his five names: Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, Abu Hamza, Abu Hamza Al-Masri, Mustafa Kamel and Mustafa Mostafa Kamel Mostafa.

United States officials frequently expressed surprise and frustration that Abu Hamza was free to walk the streets of London, despite his open extremism and allegedly bloodcurdling speeches, in which he reportedly supported blowing up airliners, committing suicide attacks in Britain and killing all Jews above the age of 15.

British officials have had to explain to their US counterparts that neither Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, nor government ministers, have the power to interfere with the legal process and the decision to bring a prosecution.

There has previously been speculation that charges might be brought here as British suspects cannot be extradited if the charges they face carry the death penalty. Mr Hamza is a British citizen through his marriage to a British woman, whom he has since divorced.

The Muslim cleric faces 11 charges in the US, which involve allegations of hostage-taking in Yemen, a conspiracy to set up a terrorist training camp in the US state of Oregon, and sending another radical to Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban.

In July, at a hearing of the extradition case, James Lewis QC, for the United States government, said Mr Hamza was a "member of a global conspiracy to wage jihad against the United States and other countries".

At this hearing, Mr Hamza's legal team said the London-based cleric would not receive a fair trial in the US because the evidence against him had been obtained by torture and plea bargaining. They also argued that he had already been declared a global terrorist by President George Bush.

A full extradition hearing involving lawyers for the US government, which was due to begin in London on 19 October, will now be stayed.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas