Hamza facing 11 US terror charges

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The controversial Muslim cleric Abu Hamza, arrested in London early today, is facing 11 charges in the US including hostage taking and trying to set up terrorist training camp in Oregon.

The controversial Muslim cleric Abu Hamza, arrested in London early today, is facing 11 charges in the US including hostage taking and trying to set up terrorist training camp in Oregon.

Details of the charges were revealed in New York as he was appearing in court at the top security Belmarsh prison in south east London.

US Attorney General John Ashcroft called a press conference in New York simultaneously with the court appearance. He said that the maximum sentence facing Hamza was death.

Hamza was arrested today in a pre-dawn raid. Officers from Scotland Yard detained the hook-handed preacher at his London home at around 3am.

Hamza, 47, who preached at a London mosque linked to al Qaida terrorists involved in the September 11 attacks, was taken to a central London police station by anti-terrorist branch officers.

He was appearing before senior district judge Timothy Workman at the magistrates court at Belmarsh

After his arrest, anti-terrorist branch detectives carried out a search of his home in Shepherds Bush, west London.

Mr Ashcroft told reporters in New York that Hamza faces charges of conspiracy to take hostages and hostage-taking in connection with an attack in Yemen in 1998 which resulted in the death of four hostages.

He is also charged with providing support and resources to terrorists, "specifically al Qaida", Mr Ashcroft said.

He is charged with attempting to set up a training camp for "violent Jihad" in Bly, Oregon, in 1999.

He is also charged with attempting to set up a terror training camp in Afghanistan and supporting the Taliban.

Mr Ashcroft said telephone records linked Hamza with the Yemen hostage takers.

He said the maximum penalty for the hostage offences was death.

The indictment states that three Britons and one Australian died in the Yemen incident.

Mr Ashcroft finished his statement by thanking the British authorities for their co–operation in the Hamza inquiry.

And he added: "The United States will use every diplomatic, legal and administrative tool to pursue and prosecute those who facilitate terrorist activity and we will not stop until the war on terror is won."

Raymond Kelly, New York police commissioner, told the same press conference Hamza was the "real deal", adding: "He is suspected of providing support to trainees in Osama bin Laden's terrorist camps as well as dispatching associates from England to help establish Jihad training sites here in the US.

"Think of him as a freelance consultant to terrorism groups worldwide."