UK to extradite radical cleric to US

    Britain intends to extradite jailed Islamist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri to the United States to face terrorism charges, the Home Office said. The interior ministry made the announcement on Thursday after Home Secretary Jacqui Smith signed an extradition order. Hamza’s lawyer, Muddassar Arani, said an appeal would be filed because “there are some very serious issues that need to be considered”. If Hamza’s initial appeal is unsuccessful, he could file further appeals with the House of Lords, Britain’s highest court of law and, were it denied there, finally to the European Court of Justice or European Court of Human Rights, depending on the section of law he decided to contest. A Home Office spokeswoman said the process could take several months. Washington claims Hamza, 49, was part of a global plot to wage holy war or jihad against Western countries – he applauded the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11, 2001 – and US authorities want him to stand trial over the 1998 abduction of 16 Western tourists in Yemen. Four of the hostages, three Britons and an Australian, were killed when Yemeni troops stormed the militants’ hide-out.

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