Terror suspect pleads not guilty in Manhattan
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Radical British Islamist preacher Mustafa Kamel Mustafa pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges in federal court in Manhattan Tuesday, three days after he lost a long battle against extradition from the United Kingdom and was flown to the United States.
Mustafa, blind in one eye and missing both hands, appeared in court with his forearm stumps sticking out from underneath a blue prison smock. But he did not repeat protests his lawyer voiced in his first court appearance on Saturday about authorities' removal of a prosthetic aid he uses for grasping.
The former leader of London's Finsbury Park mosque, attended by both shoe-bomber Richard Reid and alleged Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, spoke only once. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest asked him if it was correct that he was pleading not guilty.
"Yes, it is," said the white-bearded Mustafa, speaking quietly with a distinctive British accent as he looked at the judge over a pair of wire-rimmed reading glasses.
Mustafa, 54, also known as Abu Hamza al-Masri, is charged in connection with the kidnapping of 16 tourists in Yemen in 1998 that ended with the death of four of the hostages. He is charged with trying to establish a terrorist training camp in Oregon in 1999, and supporting jihad by anti-U.S. militants in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001.
Forrest set a trial date of Aug. 26, 2013.
Mustafa has said he lost his hands fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. In New York, he is housed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where officials have said that his prosthetic metal hook could be a security threat.
Speaking outside the courtroom, his court-appointed defense lawyer, Jeremy Schneider, said jail officials allow him only limited use of his hook, which he needs for everything from eating to showering.
"He's having a hard time," Schneider said. "He has access to his prosthetics for a certain period of time, but it's not long enough."
Also Tuesday, a judge set a trial date for two other accused terrorists extradited with Mustafa -- Khaled al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary -- who have been charged in connection with the bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ordered their trials to start a year from now, Oct. 7, 2013. Fawwaz and Bary pleaded not guilty on Saturday.