Two Egyptian born men were among five suspects extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States to face terrorism charges on Friday.
Egyptian born Abu Hamza Al-Masri and Adel Abdul Bary; UK citizens Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan; and Saudi born Khaled al-Fawwaz are now in custody in Manhattan. Ahmad and Ahsan have already entered not guilty pleas in federal court in New Haven, Connecticut, reported AP.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said, “I’m absolutely delighted that Abu Hamza is now out of this country,” according to AFP. He added, “Like the rest of the public I’m sick to the back teeth of people who come here, threaten our country, who stay at vast expense to the taxpayer and we can’t get rid of them.”
The US embassy in London released a statement which said, “the United States is pleased that the UK judicial authorities approved the extraditions,” adding, “these extraditions mark the end of a lengthy process of litigation through the UK courts and the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR].”
The extradition follows last ditch appeals by all five men to the High Court in the UK to delay their transfer to the US to face trial. This round of appeals followed a ruling by the ECHR on 24 September rejecting an appeal on the grounds that extradition to the US would subject the men to human rights abuses.
The US embassy statement noted, “[the] conditions of confinement in US prisons – including in maximum security facilities – do not violate European standards.” It added, “services and activities provided in US prisons surpass what is available in most European prisons.”
Ahmad and Ahsan both face prosecution over allegations that they were running a website for Al Qaeda from the UK. Their final appeal was based on the grounds that there was a possibility of them facing trial in the UK as it is where the crimes they are accused of allegedly occurred. Both of their appeals were rejected, followed by their transfer to the US and their appearance in court on Saturday morning.
Al-Masri’s appeal was based on his claim he was unfit to plead. However, the judges, “were wholly unpersuaded that on the evidence that he was unfit to plead.” It added that any condition he has “could be treated in the US. If any potential unfitness to plead was emerging from a degenerative condition of the brain, the court concluded that the sooner he is put on trial the better.”
Al-Masri was born in Alexandria and moved to the UK in 1979. He was arrested on charges of inciting hatred and in 2006 was sentenced to seven years for his crimes. He is well known in the UK for his distinctive appearance, having no hands and a missing eye, as a result of an explosion. He claims he is no longer an Egyptian citizen, but is viewed as Egyptian by the UK authorities, according to AP. The US requested his extradition in 2004.
Abdul Bary, also born in Egypt, entered the UK as an asylum seeker. He was arrested in 1998 in connection with two bombings at US embassies in Africa, along with another Egyptian man, Ibrahim Hussein Abdel Hadi Eidarous, who has since died. Saudi born Fawwaz was arrested for the same reason. In 1999 Abdul Bary was sentenced to death in absentia in Egypt for planning to bomb Cario’s Khan Al-Khalili market. He has been in custody in the UK since 1999 and the US requested his extradition that same year.