Radical cleric Abu Hamza has arrived in America after he was extradited from Britain along with four terror suspects.
He and the other men – Babar Ahmad, Adel Abdul Bary, Syed Ahsan and Khalid al Fawwaz – were flown to the States on board two planes which left a military airbase in Suffolk late on Friday.
The suspects had made last-ditch challenges against removal from the UK, which were rejected by two High Court judges in London hours earlier.
Sky’s Mark Stone said the judicial process in the US would begin almost immediately.
He said of Hamza: “He will be in a court room, probably later on today. That will be just a formality. There will then be a pre-trial hearing which will take place within three weeks.
“His trial and the trial of the other four will probably take place within one to three years.
“But certainly, it will come as a relief to the British Government, and of course the last British givernment. They have been trying to get these five extradited for quite some time.”
The US Attorney’s office in Connecticut confirmed that Ahmad and Ahsan are scheduled to be in US District Court in New Haven.
Speaking ahead of their arrival in New York, Home Secretary Theresa May told Sky News: ”Obviously I am very pleased that we have managed to extradite Abu Hamza and the other individuals – all terror suspects – to the United States where they will face justice. These individuals have been charged with some very serious offences in relation to terrorism.
“We’ve been very clear that we’ve moved quickly to ensure that once we got the final decision it was possible to remove these individuals from the UK.”
The decision comes after a legal battle of between eight and 14 years, which has involved appeals in British and European courts.
Mrs May said she was looking at ways of speeding up the extradition process.
She said: “We will need to look at the whole question the length of time that it has taken. Is there something we can do to make sure that people can have their proper legal rights, but also that we can speed these sorts of processes up?
“I have already set some work in train to look at comparisons with other countries … and we will be looking at perhaps to remove some of the stages of the process.”
The terror suspects were transported from HMP Long Lartin in Worcestershire to RAF Mildenhall in a police convoy.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s extradition unit then handed the men to US officials before they were taken aboard the planes which left British soil just before midnight, Scotland Yard said.
Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Mr Justice Ouseley on Friday rejected an application by 54-year-old Hamza, a former imam at Finsbury Park mosque in north London, to be given time to undergo a brain scan his lawyers said could show he is medically unfit to face trial.
They also threw out challenges by Ahmad, Ahsan, Al Fawwaz and Bary, paving the way for the Home Secretary to give the go-ahead for their immediate extradition.
All five cases returned to the High Court after judges at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) refused to intervene and stop the Home Secretary extraditing them.
A US Embassy spokeswoman said: “These extraditions mark the end of a lengthy process of litigation through the UK courts and the ECHR.
“The US government agrees with the ECHR’s findings that the conditions of confinement in US prisons – including in maximum security facilities – do not violate European standards.
“The law enforcement relationship between the United States and United Kingdom is predicated on trust, respect, and the common goals of protecting our nations and eliminating safe havens for criminals, including terrorists.”
Between 1999 and 2006, the men were indicted on various terrorism charges in America.
Hamza, who was jailed in the UK for seven years for soliciting to murder and inciting racial hatred in 2006, first faced an extradition request from the Americans in 2004.
He has been charged with 11 counts of criminal conduct related to the taking of 16 hostages in Yemen in 1998, advocating violent jihad in Afghanistan in 2001, and conspiring to establish a jihad training camp in Bly, Oregon, between June 2000 and December 2001.
Ahmad, a computer expert from south London, and Ahsan are accused of offences including using a website to provide support to terrorists and conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure persons or damage property in a foreign country.
They wanted their removal stopped so they could challenge a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions not to allow British businessman Karl Watkin, a campaigner against the UK’s extradition arrangements with the United States, to bring prosecutions against them in the UK.
Bary and al Fawwaz were indicted – with Osama bin Laden and 20 others – for their alleged involvement in, or support for, the bombing of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998.
Article source: http://news.sky.com/story/993960