Abu Hamza al-Masri (أبو حمزة المصري Abū Ḥamzah al-Maṣriy) (born 15 April 1958) is a Sunni Muslim who lives in the United Kingdom, currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred.
Following his radicalisation, he took their three-year-old son Mohammed to Egypt, saying his father was ill. The child did not see his mother again until his father was convicted in Yemen for taking part in a bombing campaign (Mohammed was sentenced to three years in prison). His stepson, Mohsin Ghalain, was also arrested in connection with the charges.
Abu Hamza lost both his hands and the use of his left eye as a result of wounds sustained in Afghanistan during a de-mining project around 1993. He now uses a distinctive hook as his right hand. He claims to have lost his hands and eye as the result of helping clear land mines in Afghanistan left behind by the Soviet Union. Some dispute this claim and offer alternative theories, including that his hands may have been cut off as punishment for theft in Saudi Arabia. On a special edition of the BBC's Newsnight program broadcast 16 November 2006 a Moroccan-French spy known by the pseudonym Omar Nasiri claimed that he was told by one of his teachers in Afghanistan that he [the teacher] was present when Abu Hamza lost his hands in a nitroglycerin accident, in an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan.
His wife is Nadjet Kamel Mostafa.
On 4 February 2003 (after being suspended since April 2002) Abu Hamza was dismissed from his position at Finsbury Park mosque by the Charity Commission, the statutory organisation that regulates charities (and hence most places of worship) in England and Wales. After his ejection from the mosque, he preached outside the gates until he was imprisoned on remand.
Abu Hamza has publicly expressed support for al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and against the UK government's involvement in the War in Iraq. He wrote a paper entitled El Ansar (The Victor ) in which he expressed support for the actions of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) in Algeria.
Abu Hamza was naturalised as a British citizen when he married Valerie Traverso, who was a British citizen by birth. However, it appears that this marriage was a bigamous one as Traverso was still married to her previous husband at the time. When this was discovered, the Home Office began the procedure to remove his British citizenship.
When Abu Hamza applied for legal aid to oppose this procedure, his application was rejected. His legal team has prolonged the fight by seeking a judicial review, and he could still appeal to the Court of Appeal or the Lords, which could take years to come to a decision. Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, said, "This man has alienated the public from Muslims with his vile rants. British Muslims are growing impatient that he is still able to tarnish them with these remarks. He is not welcome at any mosque in the country and we have nothing to do with him."
On 27 May 2004, Abu Hamza was detained by British authorities and is to appear before magistrates in the start of a process to extradite him to the United States, where he has been named in an indictment of participating with Earnest James Ujaama in his attempt to establish a terrorist training camp in late 1999 and early 2000 near Bly, Oregon, and providing aid to al-Qaeda.
However, as a member state of the European Union, the United Kingdom is party to an agreement whereby extradition must be refused to any country which has the death penalty and where the suspect is to be tried in a capital case. This will not prevent his extradition to the United States, but it will prevent any court from imposing a sentence of death, should he be found guilty. The courts of Britain have recently permitted his extradition to the US as of November 15.
On 26 August 2004, Abu Hamza was arrested by British police under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 which covers the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. He was released on 31 August 2004
The trial initially commenced on 5 July 2005 was adjourned and resumed on 9 January 2006. On 7 February 2006, Abu Hamza was found guilty on eleven charges and not guilty on four:
Following his trial, Abu Hamza was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment to run concurrently for eight counts and 21 months for the others. He has already been in jail since May 2004. In sentencing, Mr Justice Hughes said Abu Hamza had "helped to create an atmosphere in which to kill has become regarded by some as not only a legitimate course but a moral and religious duty in pursuit of perceived justice". Abu Hamza is currently being held in Belmarsh Prison.
The verdict came soon after the acquittal of British National Party member Nick Griffin on two charges under the same provisions of the Public Order Act and with a possible retrial on two more where the jury failed to reach a verdict. This has led to comparisons between the two cases within the broader debate of free speech in the UK.
On 18 January Lord Justice Hughes made the order for the recovery of the full costs of the defence of the race-hate charges, estimated in excess of 1 million pounds. This judgement was based on his view that "the story I have been told today (by Abu Hamza) is simply not true" that he had no share in a £220,000 house in Greenford, west London. Abu Hamza had claimed it belonged to his sister. The court also found that Abu Hamza was contributing £9000 a year for private education for his children..
"Killing of the kafir (non-believer) for any reason you can say it is OK, even if there is no reason for it." He called on his followers to poison, ambush and kill non-believers and added: "You must have a stand with your heart, with your tongue, with your money, with your hand, with your sword, with your Kalashnikov. Don't ask shall I do this, just do it.
Of licensors for alcohol sellers he said: "Make sure that the person who gave him the licence for that wine shop doesn't exist any more on the Earth. Finish him up. Give him dawa (inviting non-Muslims to accept the truth of Islam). If he doesn't respect dawa, kill him.
He suggested that people coined the term suicide attack to put others off it. "It is not called suicide - this is called shahada, martyring, because if the only way to hurt the enemies of Islam except by taking your life for that, then it is allowed," adding: "The person who hinders Allah's rule, this man must be eliminated".
In January 2006 while on trial, he accused the Jewish people of being "blasphemous, treacherous and dirty" and explained that this was "why Hitler was sent into the world". He also called for "a world dominated by a caliph, sitting in the White House . Whilst under cross-examination Hamza claimed the Jews control the Foreign Office, the media and the money supply in Britain and the USA.
According to a POPULUS survey from December 2005, Muslims in Britain oppose his views by a factor of two-to-one; however, among the age group 18-24, the figures are reversed, and two out of three who expressed an opinion agree with his views (27% supporting his views, 14% disagreeing with them).
Abu Hamza was also mentioned in the fictional movie The Kingdom.