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High-Profile Terrorism Suspect Pleads Not Guilty in Manhattan Court

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

An Egyptian-born preacher has pleaded not guilty in New York to charges that he conspired with Seattle men to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon.

Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, widely known as Abu Hamza al-Masri, appeared in Manhattan federal court where he entered the plea shortly before U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest set an Aug. 26 trial date. Mustafa, 54, is also accused of helping abduct 16 hostages, two of them American tourists, in Yemen in 1998.

Schneider said his client prefers to be known as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, the name listed first on his indictment. Abu Hamza and Abu Hamza al-Masri are listed as aliases.

There was no mention in court Tuesday about access to the prosthetics - including a hook - that Mustafa uses in place of the hands he says he lost fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, but Schneider said outside court that it was a problem for him.

"I believe he has use of them for a certain part of the day but not long enough to allow him to function the way he should function," he said. "As you can well imagine, he's not happy he's in a situation like this without use of his prosthetics."

"He's having a hard time. He doesn't have hands," he said.

He also is missing an eye. His lawyers in England said he suffers from depression, chronic sleep deprivation, diabetes and other ailments.

Earlier Tuesday, two men brought from England to face terrorism charges on Saturday along with Mustafa made their first appearance before U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who set an October 2013 trial date.

Khaled al-Fawwaz, 50, and Adel Abdul Bary, 52, are charged with participating in the bombings of embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in August 1998. The attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. They were indicted in a case that also charged Osama bin Laden.

Both pleaded not guilty on Saturday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean S. Buckley said the men made statements to officers in the United Kingdom that may be part of the evidence at a trial he estimated would last up to three months.

Two other men brought from Britain were arraigned in Connecticut on Saturday on terrorism charges.

Mustafa became well-known in the 1990s as his Finsbury Park Mosque in London became a training ground for extremist Islamists including Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and attempted "shoe bomber" Richard Reid. He had been jailed since 2004 in Britain on separate charges.

Traci Billingsley, a U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman, said she cannot provide specific information about individual inmates.

"In general, if an inmate arrives at any of our facilities with a prosthetic that we believe could pose a danger, it would not be permitted inside," she said, adding that the inmate would be medically evaluated to determine whether other accommodations or devices would be appropriate.

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