LONDON: He’s reviled as the one-eyed, hook-handed terror suspect so troublesome that even Queen Elizabeth II reportedly felt moved to wonder why he remained at liberty despite his fiery call for a jihad, or holy war.
Britain is now set to extradite its most recognizable extremist — Mustafa Kamal Mustafa, who is better known as Abu Hamza al-Masri — to the United States, deporting him to face terrorism charges, including allegedly helping set up a terrorist training camp in rural Oregon.
“This is a person who has been a blight on this country from more than a decade,” said Robin Simcox, a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based foreign-affairs think tank. “I don’t think there will be many people shedding a tear.”
It’s been a long time coming: A European court decision Monday cleared the way for his extradition and that of four other terror suspects after an eight-year legal battle, He could be deported within weeks.
Britain’s tabloid newspapers ran unflattering photos of the familiar, gray-bearded cleric and expressed cheerful satisfaction Tuesday that the preacher known for his anti-Western sermons might be sent away to face the consequences for his virulent sermons. The Sun tabloid headlined “Off: The Hook. Hate-filled Hamza can be deported to the United States.” The Daily Express said, “Evil Hamza: At last we can kick him out.”
For years, the Egyptian-born former nightclub bouncer, who claimed he lost his eye and hands fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, used his base in north London’s Finsbury Park Mosque to persuade a young congregation to take up the cause of holy war. The mosque was once attended by both Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. A senior UK terrorism official described the mosque as a “honeypot for extremists.”
After the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the cleric declared that, “many people will be happy, jumping up and down at this moment.”