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10/22/04 - TERRORIST CHARGED IN BRITAIN - 2004-10-22


British authorities have charged radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri with urging followers to kill non-Muslims, particularly Jews. Al-Masri is also charged with using "threatening, abusive or insulting behavior" to stir up racial hatred in Britain. And he is charged with possessing a book called the Encyclopedia of the Afghani Jihad, a document allegedly produced by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. The book provides basic rules of sabotage and terror in highly technical detail.

Al-Masri is the former head preacher at London's Finsbury Park mosque. The mosque has been linked to terror suspects Zacarias Moussaoui, charged in connection with the September 11th, 2001, attacks on the U.S., and Richard Reid, convicted of trying to blow up a commercial jet by lighting explosives hidden in his shoes.

Al-Masri was arrested by British police in May after U.S. authorities charged him with trying to establish a terrorist training camp in the state of Oregon and funding terror training in Afghanistan. Al-Masri is also wanted in Yemen on charges of hostage-taking and conspiracy in a December 1998 attack that killed four tourists.

The U.S. sought al-Masri's extradition, but under British law, domestic charges take precedence and he will be tried in Britain first. U.S. Attorney General John Aschroft said the al-Masri case is another example of how nations are working together to stop international terrorism:

"We will fight those -- we will seek to interdict them -- who are involved in terrorist plots. Those who are taking up arms, we will seek to capture them and detain them. Those who are providing resources, we will seek to stop. And we will continue to do everything that we possibly can to deprive terrorists of the resources that they might use to kill innocent citizens or civilians around the world."

"The United States," says President George W. Bush, "is grateful to every nation that is helping to seize terrorist assets, track down their operatives, and disrupt their plans. Each of us alone can only do so much,” says Mr. Bush. “Together, we can accomplish so much more.”

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