Britain extradites 5 Islamist radicals to US
Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza and four of his associates departed Britain for the United States Friday after a final decision by the High Court in London cleared the way for their extradition, dpa reported.
The High Court ended years of legal wrangling earlier Friday, ruling that they could be extradited immediately to the US for trial on terrorism-related charges. The judges said there was a "strong public interest" that extradition should go ahead, and that there should be "finality in litigation."
Hamza and the other suspected terrorists were flown out on two jets from the Royal Air Force Station Mildenhall north-east of London, Home Secretary Theresa May said, expressing satisfaction that they could be extradicted.
Officials from Scotland Yard handed the five men over to US marshalls in Mildenhall, the BBC reported.
Lawyers for Abu Hamza, 54, failed in their last-ditch attempt to stop his extradition on health grounds. The judges also rejected legal challenges by Babar Ahmad, Syed Ahsan, Khaled Al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary.
Hamza, who was born in Egypt, first came to Britain in 1979. He has fought a long battle over extradition and was first arrested in Britain at the request of the US in 2004.
The preacher, who is distinctive for a hook prosthesis on his right hand and a lost eye from injuries he suffered fighting in Afghanistan, was notorious for the fiery speeches he held as imam of Finsbury mosque in north London for many years.
A BBC reporter revealed recently that even Queen Elizabeth II had once inquired why it was taking the legal authorities so long to hand him over to the US. Hamza is wanted in the US on a number of terrorism-related charges, including the taking of 16 hostages in Yemen in 1998, advocating violent jihad in Afghanistan in 2001, and conspiring to establish a jihad training camp in Bly, Oregon, between June 2000 and December 2001.
In Washington, the US State Department said it was pleased by the ruling.