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Swedish terror suspect appears before New York court

Published: 26 Sep 2007 10:48 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 Sep 2007 10:48 GMT+02:00

Oussama Kassir, 41, who had been held by the Czechs since December 2005, was handed over Tuesday morning to US Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in Prague to fly to New York, where he heard formal charges later om Tuesday.

Kassir reacted angrily to the charges presented against him at the US District Court in Manhattan, the New York Sun reports. Addressing Judge John Keenan, the suspect called into question the integrity of prosecutor Eric Bruce.

"Why is he standing there? Why is he lying, this man?"

Kassir then turned his attentions to Judge Keenan.

"Mr. Judge, are you a better judge than a judge in Sweden? They don't judge me in Sweden. Why does this man?" he asked.

According to the New York Sun, Judge Keenan told Kassir he would be gagged if he persisited in interrupting the court proceedings.

Kassir had long been sought by US authorities for allegedly having tried with others in 1999 to set up a camp in the northwestern US state of Oregon to offer weapons training for Muslims wanting to fight in Afghanistan.

Stockholm refused to hand over the Swedish national, and he was seized in Prague while making a connecting flight to Beirut.

Prague said it had won assurances that Kassir would be detained in a civilian jail and brought before a federal judge, not at the Guantanamo military base or before a military court, before it handed him over.

"No reasons were found to refuse extradition," the Czech justice ministry said in a statement.

The US embassy in Prague said Kassir would face charges that include conspiring to provide material support and resources to the Al-Qaeda network.

As well as the conspiracy charges, Kassir is also accused of setting up an Internet site which gave instructions on how to produce chemicals or a bomb that could be used in a terrorist attack.

Both charges, which Kassir has denied throughout, carry life sentences in the United States.

The US also added in its charges that witnesses said Kassir expressed support for Al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden, and claimed to have taken jihad training in Afghanistan, Kashmir and Lebanon.

Two alleged accomplices of Kassir in setting up the Oregon camp, Abu Hamza and Haroon Rashid Aswat, are currently being held in Britain and face a US extradition request.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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