Hamza al-Masri: Terrorist or Windbag?

The Guardian has several interesting articles on Abu Hamza al-Masri, the Muslim cleric in London charged by Indictment in the U.S. One article questions whether Mr. Hamza is a terrorist at all--or just a talker seeking martyrdom.

US and European authorities have fumed at Britain's failure to lock up Mr Hamza. But sources in Britain still believe him to be a rhetoric-filled windbag, not an al-Qaida commander. Some now fear that high-profile arrest and the media spotlight will turn him into a willing martyr.

The article also confirms what we suggested yesterday, that it was James Ujaama who brought the Government its case against Hamza by providing information in exchange for a light sentence of his own. The Guardian points out that almost all of the evidence gathered by the U.S. is "supergrass"--meaning it comes from terror suspects in U.S. custody. From the Guardian:

It was the arrest and trial of an American Muslim convert called James Ujaama that opened a chink in the cleric's armour and gave the FBI and other US agencies the evidence they felt they needed to nail Mr Hamza.

Ujaama pleaded guilty to helping the Taliban and agreed to give evidence against Mr Hamza in return for a lesser sentence. He had run Mr Hamza's Supporters of Shariah website for more than a year and US authorities claim that he sent a fax from a Kinko's photocopy shop in Washington to Mr Hamza in London saying that a ranch in Oregon would be suitable to "store and conceal guns, bunkers and ammunition". The authorities say Mr Hamza then sent two of his supporters, Oussama Kassir and Haroon Rashid Aswat, to Oregon via New York to look into the setting up of the terror training camp.

Mr Hamza has mocked the idea of a camp in Oregon, wondering why potential terrorists would want to go to Oregon when they could go to Afghanistan. He said: "To tell you the truth, I don't know where Oregon is on the map."

....Another informant against Mr Hamza is Ahmed Ressam, currently in a US jail for his part in conspiring to blow up Los Angeles airport. He told the FBI that Mr Hamza was the London contact for Abu Zubaydah, Osama bin Laden's former chief of operations. He also claimed that Mr Hamza provided a letter so that a member of Ressam's cell could get training in an al-Qaida camp. He said that Mr Hamza helped to develop "leadership training courses" at an al-Qaida camp.

Update: The Denver Post connects the dots between Ujaama and Hamza and says that Ujaama is "unidentified co-conspirator number two" in Hamza's Indictment. Ujaama was released from federal custody on April 16.

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