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Brits Will Try Radical Cleric

Radical Islamic cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri appeared in court Tuesday and was charged with urging followers to kill non-Muslims.

British prosecutors read out a 16-count indictment that includes 10 charges of soliciting or encouraging persons to murder someone who did not believe in the Islamic faith.

The British charges pre-empt a U.S. extradition bid. He faces 11 terrorist charges in the United States.

Only one of the 16 charges read out in Belmarsh Magistrates Court on Tuesday falls under anti-terror legislation. That indictment, under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, accuses al-Masri of possessing a book called the Encyclopedia of the Afghani Jihad.

Prosecutors said the incitement to murder was contained in speeches recorded on tape to be used as evidence.

Four of the 10 charges specify that al-Masri urged the killing of Jews.

Hamza also faces four charges of using "threatening, abusive or insulting behavior" to stir up racial hatred and one count of possessing threatening, abusive or insulting recordings.

Al-Masri nodded when asked if he understood the charges against him.

The preacher was arrested on May 27. At a hearing in July a representative of the U.S. government asked for al-Masri to be extradited.

James Lewis said the FBI had gathered intelligence about al-Masri's involvement in the establishment of a terrorist training camp in Oregon, a hostage taking incident in Yemen, and the funding of training for potential terrorists. The U.S. authorities are seeking his extradition on the basis of nine terror charges.

Lewis read an affidavit to the court from an FBI agent who was assigned to investigate al-Masri's activities.

"The evidence gathered by the FBI when viewed as a whole shows that Abu Hamza was a member of a conspiracy to wage global jihad," Lewis added.

He said the FBI official had concluded that al-Masri "knowingly and actively participated" in the hostage-taking in Yemen in 1998, when terrorists seized 16 tourists. Three British tourists and one Australian visitor were killed when Yemeni security forces were involved in a shootout with the Islamic extremist captors.

Lewis said that al-Masri provided the hostage takers with a satellite phone and then added $840 worth of credit to the phone.

Lewis also said U.S. authorities allege that al-Masri conspired to establish a jihad training camp in Oregon and sent two supporters to view facilities there.

He said the Finsbury Park mosque in north London where al-Masri was head preacher funded a trip to Afghanistan for two supporters, one of whom wanted to be trained for the global jihad.

Al-Masri is also wanted in Yemen on charges of hostage-taking and conspiracy in connection with the December 1998 incident.