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Abu Hamza al-Masri

Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri is an extreme Imam formerly based at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London.

He is condemned by many Muslims as an extremist. He has declared to his congregation that the September 11 attacks were justified. The Yemeni authorities had requested his arrest and extradition, claiming he was linked to plots to bomb targets there, but the British authorities have not complied. In 1999 his son Mohammed Mustafa Kamel was sentenced to three years in prison in Yemen for his part in a bombing campaign.

He was one of the leading critics of the January 20, 2003 police raid of the Finsbury Park mosque.

Abu Hamza also claimed that the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster was a sign from God. He said:

"These missions would increase the number of satellites for military purposes. It would increase the slavery of governance of other countries by America. It is a punishment from God. Muslims see it that way. It is a trinity of evil because it carried Americans, an Israeli and a Hindu, a trinity of evil against Islam. The fact that the motor of the craft fell on Palestine - all these are messages from God. It is a strong message, for the Israeli, to be taken up there to space and he spoke about the Holocaust, to try to make religious advancement from it and gain some moral high ground, hence you have seen this message over Palestine."

On February 4, 2003 (after being suspended since April 2002) Abu Hamza was dismissed from his position in the mosque by the Charity Commission, the statutory organisation that regulates charities (and hence most places of worship) in England and Wales.

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