Met questions Abu Hamza on new terror allegations

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The Independent Online

Abu Hamza, the radical Muslim cleric facing extradition to the United States, was questioned yesterday by Scotland Yard officers on suspicion of plotting or taking part in terrorist acts in Britain.

Abu Hamza, the radical Muslim cleric facing extradition to the United States, was questioned yesterday by Scotland Yard officers on suspicion of plotting or taking part in terrorist acts in Britain.

Mr Hamza, 47, who is already in custody, was re-arrested by police following the disclosure of new information about alleged terrorist activities in Britain. The Metropolitan Police said the radical preacher was held under the Terrorism Act 2000 on suspicion of involvement in the "commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism".

If any criminal charges are brought against Mr Hamza, who used to preach at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, they will have to be dealt with before the extradition proceedings.

Mr Hamza was arrested at Belmarsh jail, the high-security prison in south-east London where he has been since his arrest in May on separate allegations by the US. Mr Hamza 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.

Hedenies the American allegations and is fighting legal moves to extradite him to the US to stand trial.

A Scotland Yard police spokesman said his arrest yesterday was "part of separate, domestic inquiries". He is being questioned at Paddington Green police station by officers from the Met's anti-terrorist branch.

Police are understood to be probing a range of allegations relating to the provision of support for terrorism, rather than involvement in any specific plot. These will include examining whether he gave aid to terrorists and terrorist organisations, either through recruitment, finance or logistics.

The US's request to extradite the Egyptian-born former imam and yesterday's arrest under the Terrorism Act were being dealt with as "completely separate matters", said a spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service.

However, should the UK authorities decide to press charges against Mr Hamza under the Terrorism Act, these will automatically take precedence over the charges in the US and their related extradition proceedings, according to the police and CPS lawyers.

There was also speculation last night that charges may be brought in Britain as British suspects cannot be extradited if the charges they face are penalised with capital punishment.

Mr Hamza's legal team have said that they believe he would not receive a fair trial in the US.