The New York Police Department on Tuesday said it was preparing for possible terror activity aimed at disrupting the trial of Abu Hamza al-Masri, the firebrand preacher from North London’s Finsbury Park Mosque, who allegedly planned attacks against Jews. Ironically, his trial in Manhattan Federal Court begins on April 14th, the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover.
The imam “helped radicalize dozens of individuals in both the U.K. and U.S. who went on to engage in terrorist acts,” Rebecca Weiner, director of intelligence analysis for the NYPD, told Jewish leaders at a pre-Passover briefing at police headquarters, according to the New York Daily News.
“We are attuned to the possibility that his upcoming trial may inspire more” terror, Weiner said. “It is a major priority for us in the next couple of weeks.”
NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence John Miller said police will be on high alert. “At this time there is no specific, credible threat,” he said about the trial.
Court documents allege that one of his “lieutenants” from London was sent to Afghanistan for “violent jihad training” and said he was prepared to take part in attacks against American and Jewish targets. The imam is separately accused of trying to set up a “jihad training camp” in Bly, Oregon where one of his followers is said to have penned a letter to Osama bin Laden saying, “We love you here.”
Abu Hamza, a 55-year-old Egyptian, uses prosthetic hooks, as he has no hands, which he has said he lost in Afghanistan, along with the use of one eye.
His lawyer, Joshua Dratel, who did not return The Algemeiner‘s requests for further comment about the potential terror threat, has already tried to gain concessions for his client, who complained about the conditions of the U.S. prison he is held in, even requesting a bidet, according to earlier coverage by the Daily News.
After years of extradition delays, Abu Hamza will be charged by U.S. federal prosecutors with 11 counts of criminal terrorism going back to 1998 and occurring in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
“The [U.S.] government will show that the defendant was a terrorist leader of global reach who … sent his young lieutenants around the world to engage in terror training,” the federal prosecutors will say at the trial. Abu Hamza will also be accused of using the Finsbury Park Mosque as a recruiting base, inspiring jihadists with his hateful sermons and providing support to Al Qaeda from Britain.