U.K. Court Hears Cleric's Hate-Filled Sermon
LONDON – Prosecutors played a videotape in court Thursday showing radical cleric Abu Hamza al Masri delivering a sermon in which he describes tactics to "bleed" the enemies of Islam.
Al-Masri faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of inciting murder and stirring racial hatred in speeches recorded on nine video and audio tapes made for supporters.
"Imagine you have only one small knife ... you have to stab him here and there until he bleeds to death, until he dies," al-Masri said on the tape played for jurors at London's Central Criminal Court. The speech was delivered in late 1997 or early 1998, prosecutor David Perry told jurors.
On the videotape, al-Masri tells his audience that some elements of Western society must be considered legitimate targets of violence.
"Every place of iniquity, every brothel ... for the victorious party is a target," al-Masri said as he sat behind a table draped with a banner marked "Al-Jihad."
The cleric is also accused of possessing a terrorism "manual" with a dedication to Usama bin Laden, which advised attacking targets such as Big Ben, the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. The 10-volume "Encyclopedia of the Afghani Jihad," honored the Al Qaeda leader for "carrying out jihad in Afghanistan."
The encyclopedia advised hitting targets such as the Statue of Liberty to cause destruction and suggested attacks on museums or archaeological sites. It also said plans should be made to hit buildings such as skyscrapers, ports, airports, nuclear plants and soccer stadiums and talked about attacking large congregations at Christmas.
The various titles of the 10 volumes include "handguns," "explosives," "weapons," "dogfight and combat," and "tanks."
The Egyptian-born cleric — who says he lost his eye and hands while fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan — was head preacher at the Finsbury mosque from the late 1990s until 2003, when he was ousted by the community's leaders.
The north London center has been linked to several terrorist suspects, including alleged Sept. 11, 2001, plotter Zacarias Moussaoui and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid.
British authorities have charged al-Masri, whose real name is Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, with multiple counts of inciting the killing of Jews and other non-Muslims, using threatening or abusive language designed to stir racial hatred and possessing the terrorism related document.
Al-Masri, 47, has pleaded innocent to the charges.
He is wanted in the United States on an 11-count indictment from 2004 that charges him with conspiring to provide material support to the Al Qaeda terror network by establishing a training camp in Bly, Oregon; conspiring to take hostages in Yemen and facilitating training in Afghanistan.
Under British law, the charges he faces in the United Kingdom take precedence over the U.S. case. The trial is set to last one month.