Janet Stobart, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 12, 2006
LONDON — A prosecutor Wednesday accused Abu Hamza al Masri, an Egyptian-born Muslim cleric, of preaching hatred, telling followers that the world should be run by a Muslim caliph “sitting in the White House” and that it was legitimate to kill foes of Islamic law.
The high-profile trial began at London’s Old Bailey criminal court a day after jury selection, with Masri facing 15 counts of conspiracy to murder and using threatening, abusive and insulting language and behavior in incitement to religious hatred. He also is charged with possessing material and documents relating to terrorist activities. The trial is expected to last four weeks.
Masri, a large man who says he lost an eye and both hands fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, became well known as the radical preacher at North London’s Finsbury Park Mosque. The mosque was considered a crossroads for terrorists such as Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, before and after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Perry said Masri also supported suicide bombers. “As far as the defendant is concerned, you don’t call it suicide, you call it martyrdom,” Perry said. He quoted the cleric as saying, “If we don’t use terrorism and torture, what are we going to use?”