Terrorist Mustafa Arrested

Fox — U.S. Indicts Radical Muslim Cleric

Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri (search) has been arrested and charged by the United States in an 11-count indictment in Manhattan federal court, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced on Thursday.

Al-Masri, also known as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, was arrested Thursday morning in Great Britain on an extradition warrant issued by the U.S. government. He is the former imam at the Finsbury Park mosque (search) in London.

Al-Masri has ties to James Ujaama (search), who was sentenced to two years in prison in February after he pleaded guilty last year to aiding the Taliban and helping to set up a training camp in the same town where al-Masri attempted to establish such a camp.

The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury on April 19, 2004, and was unsealed Thursday. The indictment charges him with hostage-taking and conspiracy to take hostages in connection with an attack in Yemen in December 1998 that resulted in the deaths of four hostages. The maximum sentence for the abduction is the death penalty.

I vote for that.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Why are so many Muslim clerics in the news blind or semi-blind? Is it a coincidence? Seriously. Does anybody know?

  2. Teri says:

    I would guess two things contribute:

    1. Blindness is much more common in that part of the world.

    2. Being a cleric is the sort of job that one can do reasonably well if blind, unlike most other job/livelihood options available.

    We are probably just not hearing about the non-radical blind clerics.

  3. skillzy says:

    Well, Mustafa lost his eye fighting with the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan. He’s not completely blind. He also has a hook in place of one of his hands. I think the Hamas guy was blind from birth or childhood.

  4. dw says:

    A blind cleric would have to memorize the Qu’ran since there’s not really a Braille for Arabic. Memorization and recitation of the Qu’ran is an essential skill for any Muslim cleric, and this puts sighted and blind on equal footing.

    Remember, back before the printing press there were few books (and all hand-copied); memorization was an essential skill for religion and government.

  5. kenny says:

    interesting to see if he is extradited.
    After all under british law
    “No State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”

    After the last few weeks anyone want to take a bet on what his lawyers argue in the extradition hearing?

  6. Charles Fenwick says:

    BBC article’s bit about the death penalty:

    However under current national and European laws, Britain must ask the US to pledge they will not apply the death penalty before any possible extradition is approved.

    Home Secretary David Blunkett said: “We have an agreement with the Americans which I renewed a year ago with John Ashcroft which means that on his extradition they are entitled to find him guilty, they are entitled to kill in the sentence but they will not carry out an execution.”

  7. Kathy K says:

    I don’t care if we kill him. I’m willing to bet that fanatic has lots of interesting info. And we’ve done a good thing for the Brits be enabling them to get him off the street. Even if we argue for ages about extraditing him, they can at least keep him ‘in custody’.