London cleric Mustafa Kamel Mustafa convicted in terrorism trial - New York News

London cleric Mustafa Kamel Mustafa convicted in terrorism trial

Posted: Updated:
Mustafa Kamel Mustafa (AP file photo) Mustafa Kamel Mustafa (AP file photo)

By LARRY NEUMEISTER and TOM HAYS

NEW YORK (AP) — An Egyptian Islamic preacher whose fiery sermons before and after 9/11 attracted extremists to his London mosque was convicted Monday in a trial that a prosecutor said should provide justice for the victims of a kidnapping in Yemen more than a decade ago.

The cleric, Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, 55, was found guilty in federal court in Manhattan just weeks after al-Qaida's spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks was convicted. Attorney General Eric Holder championed that verdict as a triumph for civil courts.

Mustafa was accused of providing material support to terrorist organizations by enabling hostage takers in the Yemen kidnapping to speak on a satellite phone, by sending men to establish an al-Qaida training camp in Bly, Oregon, and by sending at least one man to training camps in Afghanistan.

He was extradited in 2012 from England, where he led London's Finsbury Park Mosque in the 1990s, reportedly attended by both Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid. Mustafa denied that he ever met them.

Mustafa looked straight ahead as the verdict was read.

For much of the past month, jurors watched videotapes and heard audio clips in which Mustafa shouted to his followers, telling them non-Muslims could be treated like animals and women and children who were not Muslim could be taken captive.

But they saw a gentler version of Mustafa on the witness stand, one who spoke confidently in the tone of a college professor as he insisted he never engaged in acts of terrorism or aided al-Qaida.

His testimony over four days was derided by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian McGinley, who told jurors to ignore his lies and concentrate on evidence.

In his closing argument, McGinley read aloud the names of four European tourists who died in 1998 in Yemen after their convoy of cars was overtaken by extremist Islamic kidnappers whom Mustafa had given the satellite phone. McGinley said a guilty verdict would provide a measure of justice for them and another dozen hostages who survived.

"Don't be fooled by his testimony," McGinley said. "Don't let the passage of time diminish what he did."

Referred by prosecutors and defense lawyers alike by his alias, Abu Hamza al-Masri, Mustafa also explained how he lost both hands and part of his forearms in a 1993 accident when he helped the Pakistani military as a civil engineer.

Two women who were hostages in Yemen also testified. Margaret Thompson, of Texas, who was shot in the leg in a shootout between Yemeni forces and the kidnappers, limped into the courtroom to describe her harrowing 24-hour ordeal.

Mary Quin, a U.S. citizen who now lives in New Zealand, testified that she escaped one kidnapper by putting her foot against his head and wrestling away his assault rifle after he was knocked to the ground by a bullet.

The government played clips of a taped interview Quin conducted with Mustafa in his London mosque as she prepared to write a book about the kidnapping. McGinley told jurors Mustafa boasted to Quin about the kidnappings, saying: "Islamically, it is a good thing." McGinley said that statement belied Mustafa's claims that when he spoke to the lead kidnapper during the crisis, he tried to be a peacemaker.

"No one who actually tried to be a peacemaker would say to a victim of that kidnapping that it was a good thing," he said.

The prosecutor acknowledged Mustafa's speaking skills, saying he was "good with words," but also warned, "Don't buy it."

"The real Abu Hamza is not the man you see in 2014," McGinley said.

In his closing, defense attorney Jeremy Schneider warned jurors not to let their judgment be overrun by the emotion of the terrorist acts they heard about repeatedly, including the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors and the Sept. 11 attacks a year later, the memorial for which opened blocks from the courtroom during the trial.

"The vast majority of the evidence is his words, not his deeds," he said, adding that his client's statements were taken out of context.

"Many times, his words aren't connected to what he did," Schneider said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Manhattan NewsManhattan NewsMore>>

  • Friday Night Live: July 25, 2014

    Friday Night Live: July 25, 2014

    Friday, July 25 2014 10:31 PM EDT2014-07-26 02:31:59 GMT
    This is Fox 5's Friday Night Live, a weekly celebration of the end of the work week. All summer long, the Fox 5 team brings you the latest in entertainment, nightlife, food, and music in our area. In this jam-packed episode: QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, Stephen "Twitch" Boss, actress Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Michael Chernow and Chef Daniel Holzman of the Meatball Shop.
    This is Fox 5's Friday Night Live, a weekly celebration of the end of the work week. All summer long, the Fox 5 team brings you the latest in entertainment, nightlife, food, and music in our area. In this jam-packed episode: QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, Stephen "Twitch" Boss, actress Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Michael Chernow and Chef Daniel Holzman of the Meatball Shop.
  • The Big Idea

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Friday, July 25 2014 8:45 PM EDT2014-07-26 00:45:49 GMT
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
  • Camping without leaving NYC (or even Manhattan)

    Camping without leaving NYC (or even Manhattan)

    Friday, July 25 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-07-25 21:15:28 GMT
    If you thought camping meant leaving New York City, fuggedaboutit. Inwood Hill Park in Upper Manhattan and several other parks in the five boroughs are waiting for you and your family. New York City's family camping program, run by the Parks Department, is in full swing. No cars needed; your MetroCard will get you there.
    If you thought camping meant leaving New York City, fuggedaboutit. Inwood Hill Park in Upper Manhattan and several other parks in the five boroughs are waiting for you and your family. New York City's family camping program, run by the Parks Department, is in full swing. No cars needed; your MetroCard will get you there.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices