(NEW YORK) — Having lost an eight-year battle to fight extradition, radical preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri and four other suspected al Qaeda suspects were brought into two U.S. courtrooms on Saturday to hear charges on various terrorist-related activities. All five are British citizens.
The defendants were actually flown into the U.S. overnight Friday after losing a last-ditch appeal in British courts to block extradition based on human rights concerns about the conditions they would face in U.S. prisons.
Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, told reporters that prosecuting three of the men, “makes good on a promise to the American people to use every available diplomatic, legal, and administrative tool to pursue and prosecute charged terrorists no matter how long it takes.”
Bharara said that Hamza, Adel Abdel Bary and Khaled al Fawwaz “were at the nerve centers of al Qaeda’s acts of terror, and they caused blood to be shed, lives to be lost, and families to be shattered.”
Hamza, the one-eyed and hook-handed former imam of a radical London mosque, faces charges of conspiring to set-up a terror training camp in Oregon and kidnapping 16 tourists in Yemen, two of them Americans.
Among other things, Bary and Fawwaz are charged in the deadly 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Meanwhile, at a federal court in New Haven, Conn., Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan were charged with running a pro-jihadi website to provide terrorists with cash, recruits and equipment.
All five, who pleaded not guilty during their brief courtroom appearances, will be formally arraigned on Tuesday.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN