At NY trial, prosecutor vs. combative London imam

Topics: From the Wires,

NEW YORK (AP) — Confronted by a prosecutor, an Islamic cleric accused of supporting terrorist operations in Yemen and in the United States tried Tuesday to soften his most incendiary statements about the Sept. 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden and a 1998 kidnapping of 16 tourists in Yemen in which four hostages were killed.

Many answers 55-year-old Mustafa Kamel Mustafa gave at his Manhattan trial to questions posed by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Cronan came reluctantly, with Mustafa criticizing the prosecutor for what he said was a “cut-and-paste” effort to mischaracterize statements.

“Try to concentrate. Ask one at a time,” he chided Cronan, shortly before U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest admonished Mustafa for failing to answer questions properly.

“We do need to obey the rules of cross examination,” she said. “Don’t make speeches.”

“Sir, I will be asking the questions of you,” Cronan said pointedly when Mustafa tried repeatedly to answer a question with a question of his own.

Cronan for the most part ignored Mustafa’s insults as he used the testimony as an opportunity to replay audio of statements the government believes best support charges that Mustafa conspired to aid terror organizations, including al-Qaida, by providing a satellite phone to the Yemen hostage takers, by trying to open a training camp in Bly, Oregon, and by sending men to training camps in Afghanistan.

Cronan asked if Mustafa had praised the Sept. 11 attacks.

“We were all happy,” Mustafa said, explaining that attitudes toward Palestine and foreign policies led to a feeling of euphoria among some people after the attacks.

Mustafa, educated as a civil engineer, said he called for an investigation of the attacks and questioned whether explosives might have been responsible for the fall of the buildings.

“Plenty of people at the mosque and al-Qaida hated me for my statements about 9/11,” he said.

Cronan noted he had stated publicly that he loved bin Laden and asked if that was still so.

“For the good in him,” Mustafa said, though he also said bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa stating that Americans should be killed wherever they are found was “a piece of nonsense” and he believed bin Laden was undisciplined.

Mustafa conceded he told an ex-hostage from the Yemen kidnapping who interviewed him at his London mosque while writing a book that the attacks were “Islamically justified.”

When Cronan asked him if he said in an interview a month after the hostage taking that foreign visitors to Yemen were “like dumb animals, whoever imprisons them can do what he likes with them,” Mustafa responded with a question: “Where is the clip?”

As he backtracked from some statements, Mustafa had various excuses, saying he gets tired or that his diabetes interferes with his thinking.

“I’m not trying to justify anything. … I’m just saying my main language is Arabic,” Mustafa said.

Mustafa, extradited in 2012 from England, also denied knowing Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid, both of whom reportedly had attended London’s Finsbury Park Mosque in the 1990s.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows


Loading Comments...