3 NY terrorism defendants set for court appearance
NEW YORK (AP) -- Three men who were brought from England to New York to face terrorism charges return to court to learn more about how their cases will proceed to trial.
Abu Hamza al-Masri, who complained through his lawyer Saturday that he lost the use of his arms when his prosthetics, which included a hook, were taken away, will enter a plea for the first time on Tuesday. The Egyptian-born preacher faces charges that he conspired with Seattle men to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and helped abduct 16 hostages, two of them American tourists, in Yemen in 1998.
Two others -- Khaled al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary -- will appear for the first time before the judge who will oversee their trial in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on charges that they participated in the bombings of embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in August 1998. The attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. They were indicted in a case that also charged Osama bin Laden. Both pleaded not guilty on Saturday.
Al-Masri, indicted under the name Mustafa Kamel Mustafa with al-Masri listed as an alias, became well known in the 1990s as his Finsbury Park Mosque in London became a training ground for extremist Islamists including Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid. He had been jailed since 2004 in Britain on separate charges.
Al-Masri has unusual needs in prison after losing part of each of his arms in what he says was a fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. He also is missing an eye. His lawyers in England said he suffers from depression, chronic sleep deprivation, diabetes and other ailments.
His court-appointed lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, said Saturday that he needed the use of his arms and wanted his prosthetics back. "Otherwise, he will not be able to function in a civilized manner." She did not return a request for comment Monday.
Traci Billingsley, a U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman, said she cannot provide specific information about individual inmates.
"In general, if an inmate arrives at any of our facilities with a prosthetic that we believe could pose a danger, it would not be permitted inside," she said, adding that the inmate would be medically evaluated to determine if other accommodations or devices would be appropriate.
John N. Billock, head of the Orthotics & Prosthetics Rehabilitation Engineering Centre in Warren, Ohio, and a pioneer in the field, said a hook for a hand would "definitely be considered a weapon."
"You could brutalize somebody with it," he said. "You can put somebody's eyes out or knock out their teeth."
He said hooks are typically made of stainless steel or aluminum. The price of prosthetics in place of hands can range from $15,000 to $100,000, he said.
Al-Masri is being held prior to trial in the same federal lockup where a prison guard lost an eye and was left brain damaged when he was stabbed with a sharpened comb in 2000 by a terrorism defendant awaiting trial in the embassy bombings plot.
Mamdouh Mahmud Salim is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty in the stabbing.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)