Five terror suspects were extradited from Britain after losing their lengthy fight to avoid facing charges in the US, and officials said at least two of the men were expected in court yesterday.
Radical preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri and four other terror suspects were extradited after Britain’s High Court ruled on Friday they had no more grounds for appeal.
The US attorney’s office in Connecticut said Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan were scheduled to appear in the US District Court in New Haven yesterday morning.
Ahmad and Ahsan, along with al-Masri, Khaled al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary, left Britain aboard two planes early yesterday, Scotland Yard said.
“I’m absolutely delighted that Abu Hamza is now out of this country,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said. “Like the rest of the public, I’m sick to the back teeth of people who come here, threaten our country, who stay at vast expense to the taxpayer and we can’t get rid of them.”
“I’m delighted on this occasion we’ve managed to send this person off to a country where he will face justice,” he added.
Officials with the US attorney’s office in New York would not confirm the arrival of al-Masri and the other two men.
The extraditions came just hours after a ruling at the British High Court, where Judges John Thomas and Duncan Ouseley rejected last-ditch applications by the men, who have been battling extradition for between eight and 14 years.
Thomas said there were no grounds for any further delay, saying it was “in the interest of justice that those accused of very serious crimes, as each of these claimants is in these proceedings, are tried as quickly as possible as is consistent with the interests of justice.”
The five have sought to avoid extradition by raising concerns about human rights and the conditions they would face in a US prison. Both British and European courts have ruled that they can be sent to the US to face charges, but they sought last-minute injunctions from the British High Court.
The best known of the defendants is al-Masri, an Egyptian-born former nightclub bouncer who turned London’s Finsbury Park Mosque into a training ground for radical Islamists during the 1990s. The mosque was once attended by Sept. 11, 2001, attack conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and “shoe bomber” Richard Reid.
Al-Masri is wanted in the US on charges that include conspiring with Seattle men to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and helping abduct 16 hostages, two of them US tourists, in Yemen in 1998.
Ahmad and Ahsan face charges in Connecticut relating to Web sites that allegedly sought to raise cash, recruit fighters and seek equipment for terrorists in Afghanistan and Chechnya.
Bary and al-Fawwaz were indicted with others, including then-al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, for their alleged roles in the bombings of two US embassies in east Africa in 1998. Al-Fawwaz faces more than 269 counts of murder.