(LONDON) — Radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, the man authorities said tried to set up a terrorist training camp on American soil, is finally on his way to stand trial in the U.S. after an eight-year delay.
Hamza, along with four other suspected terrorists, will fly to the States in the custody of U.S. Marshals, British officials told ABC News just hours after the defendants lost a last ditch appeal to the British courts. The officials said there had been “dreadful weather” but they still have “every intention to get them airborne tonight.”
“There is great relief here that these men who have used every opportunity to delay and frustrate extradition will soon be on their way to face justice in U.S.,” one British government source told ABC News.
An indictment against Hamza, the one-eyed and hook-handed former imam at the Finsbury Park mosque in London, was unsealed after his arrest by British authorities in 2004. It accused Hamza of a litany of terrorism-related crimes including his alleged role in what turned out to be a deadly hostage-taking operation in Yemen. It also said Hamza had tried to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and was accused of providing material support to al Qaeda and the Taliban.
The four other suspects, Adel Abdul Bary, Khalid al-Fawwaz, Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan, are also facing terrorism-related charges.
Together, the group had put up fierce legal opposition to extradition and had argued they had human rights concerns about the conditions they would face in U.S. prisons. The U.S. government first requested Hamza’s extradition when he was picked up by British police in 2004.
The U.S. Embassy in London said in a release it was “pleased” with the U.K. court’s decision to extradite the group and said the move marked “the end of a lengthy process of litigation.”
“The U.S. Government agrees with the ECHR’s findings that the conditions of confinement in U.S. prisons — including in maximum security facilities — do not violate European standards. In fact, the Court found that services and activities provided in U.S. prisons surpass what is available in most European prisons,” the embassy said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN