Abu Hamza Al-Masri
Abu Hamza Al-Masri EPA - Adrian Dennis

Cleric Abu Hamza jailed for life, Hebdo links reported

THE radical preacher Abu Hamza - a man who told his followers that they had to train in order to "bleed the enemy" - has been jailed for life amid reports one of his senior aides had links to a suspect in the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

The US had been readying for the sentencing of Hamza, accused of waging a "global war of jihad against those he considered infidels" and who was convicted last year of trying to establish an al-Qaeda training camp within the US.

The 56-year-old Hamza, whose full name is Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, was sentenced in New York on Friday. The hearing was held amid reports that the security services believe of the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris was mentored by an associate of Hamza from the late 1990s.

The Egyptian-born Hamza, who once headed London's Finsbury Park mosque, was sentenced by District Judge Katherine Forrest at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan courthouse in Manhattan, having been convicted last May of a series of terror-related charges.

Federal sentencing guidelines called for a life sentence.

The Finsbury Park mosque was long known to have served as a clearing house for radical Muslims after Hamza arrived as its chief imam in 1997.

His fiery sermons reportedly inspired people such as Richard Reid, the failed "shoe bomber", Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the 9-11 plotters, and Mohammed Sidique Khan, one of the four suicide bombers who blew themselves up on public transport in London on July 7, 2005.

Reports say that British security services are looking at possible British links to the Charlie Hebdo attack after it emerged one of the suspects was mentored by a senior aide to Hamza. Cherif Kouachi, 32, is said to be a follower of alleged al-Qaeda organiser Djamel Beghal, who was a regular presence at the London mosque in the late 1990s.


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