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Jurors hear tapes of Muslim cleric calling for children to join violent struggle - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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LONDON (AP) – Prosecutors at the trial of radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri on Friday played recorded sermons of him telling followers to “join the front line” in the fight against infidels and calling for children to be trained for a violent struggle.

Egyptian-born Al-Masri, former head preacher at a London mosque, faces life in prison if convicted of inciting murder and stirring racial hatred in speeches recorded on nine video and audio tapes made for supporters.

Jurors have already listened to tapes in which the fiery preacher called on Muslims to carry out the destruction of the “enemies of Allah.”

“Islam will never be dear to your hearts unless you sacrifice for it, until your blood comes out for it, your teeth get broken for it, you have enemies because of it,” he said in one of the tapes played at London’s Central Criminal Court.

The three-hour speech was delivered in 1999, prosecutor David Perry said.

Al-Masri, who says he lost an eye and both hands while fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan, was head preacher at the Finsbury Park mosque from the late 1990s until 2003, when he was ousted by the institution’s leaders. The north London center has been linked to several terrorist suspects, including alleged Sept. 11, 2001, plotter Zacarias Moussaoui and “shoe bomber” Richard Reid.

British authorities have charged al-Masri, whose real name is Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, with multiple counts of inciting the killing of Jews and other non-Muslims, using threatening or abusive language designed to stir racial hatred and possessing the terrorism-related document.

Al-Masri, 47, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. “You are a fighter, so when the time comes for fighting you can fight and if you want more reward in what you do, join the front line,” al-Masri told followers, urging them to target non-Muslims and that children should be prepared to act as holy warriors.

The cleric said once a child reached 10 years old, they must get used to “sleeping rough, sleeping tough, going for training, sweating, getting a couple of punches in his face.”

Jurors were played a tape Thursday in which the cleric said supporters should “bleed” their enemies and treat Britain like a toilet. Prosecutors also allege al-Masri possessed a 10-volume terrorism manual that advised attacking targets such as Big Ben, the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower.

The cleric also said it was permissible to steal to pay off debts, as long as followers did not carry out thefts while veiled or bearded, as this would give a poor impression of Muslims.

“Whether it’s drugs money or cheese money, you take it,” al-Masri said. He is wanted in the United States on an 11-count indictment from 2004 that charges him with conspiring to provide material support to the al-Qaeda terror network by establishing a training camp in Oregon; conspiring to take hostages in Yemen and facilitating training in Afghanistan.

Under British law, al-Masri must be tried and serve any sentence he receives in Britain before he can be sent to the United States to face charges there.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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