Terror trial witness: Farm turned into jihad training camp
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The wife of the owner of an alleged jihad training camp in Oregon testified at the trial of radical British Imam Abu Hamza al-Masri on Tuesday that she hoped to teach Muslims about canning and raising lambs, but ended up instead hosting a cadre of armed militants.
Eva Hatley said that in addition to practicing knife-throwing, shooting rifles at a deer target and discussing plans to kidnap truckers, visitors sent by Abu Hamza to her Bly ranch boasted of terror skills and one claimed to be a "hit man" for Osama bin Laden.
"It wasn't anything like I had envisioned for the property," said Hatley, who spent time in the federal witness protection program.
Abu Hamza, a one-eyed double amputee also known as Mostafa Kamel Mostafa, is charged in federal court in Manhattan with conspiring to set up the Bly terror camp in 1999, involvement in a hostage-taking in Yemen in 1998 and aiding al-Qaida in Afghanistan.
Once a fiery preacher at London's Finsbury Park mosque, Abu Hamza, 56, was imprisoned for years in Britain and extradited to the United States in 2012 after an extended legal struggle. His trial began last week.
Hatley said she grew up in Idaho, "bagged" her first deer at 12, converted to Islam at age 38, and married the owner of the Bly ranch after a brief courtship based on his promise to convert and her hopes of using the 160-acre ranch as a "teaching farm" for Muslims.
After moving there, however, she learned that her mostly absent husband -- whom she had married over the telephone -- had four previous wives and 18 children, and came to believe that he had suffocated his previous wife to death and planned to kill her, she said.
At the same time, she testified, her Muslim friends began using the ranch to bring together Abu Hamza acolytes from a mosque in Seattle and two leaders dispatched by London, who dressed in black, supervised calisthenics and weapons practice, ran "patrols" and tried to impose a system of passwords.
Her husband, she said, thought the presence of the Muslims might be a way for him to claim a tax exemption on the land, while one of the foreign visitors told her that "Abu Hamza sent him" to "train men for jihad."
Finally she fled, concluding that with the jihadists "coming at me from one side" and her husband "from the other," the future didn't look bright. She nearly committed suicide, she testified, and then was recruited into witness protection -- which at one point paid $15,000 to move her two horses -- but has been kicked out twice for rules violations.
"I still am afraid," she testified.
The trial resumes on Wednesday.