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British Arrest Cleric Sought by U.S.

August 27, 2004|From Associated Press

LONDON — Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al Masri was arrested Thursday on suspicion of preparing or instigating "acts of terrorism," a move that could delay U.S. attempts to extradite him on charges that include trying to establish a terrorist training camp in Oregon.

The arrest of Abu Hamza, who already was being held in a London prison on the U.S. warrant, suggests that British authorities plan to pursue charges against him under British law.

If British authorities formally charge the cleric, their case will have to be resolved before any extradition proceedings, officials said.

The cleric's London mosque has been linked to several terrorist suspects, including Sept. 11 suspect Zacarias Moussaoui and "shoe bomber" Richard C. Reid. Abu Hamza denies any involvement in violence.

Under British anti-terrorism law, prosecutors have two weeks to decide whether to file charges.

Police gave no details about what they suspected Abu Hamza of doing, but Britain's Press Assn. said the investigation centered on whether he provided support to terrorists in the form of recruitment, finances or logistics.

The U.S. indictment accuses Abu Hamza of trying to establish a terrorist training camp in Oregon, being involved in hostage-taking in Yemen and funding terrorism training in Afghanistan.

He is challenging the U.S. attempt to extradite him.

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