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Cleric al-Masri loses bid to avoid extradition to US on terror charges

Four terrorists wanted on charges in the U.S. have lost their case at the European Court of Human Rights and will be extradicted to the US after years of legal battles. ITV's Lucy Manning reports

Adrian Dennis / AFP - Getty Images file

Fiery Muslim preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri in a file picture taken Jan. 20, 2003.

The European Court of Human Rights gave final approval on Monday for the extradition of one of Britain's most radical Islamist clerics and four others to the United States, where they face terrorism charges.

The decision caps a long legal battle and means Abu Hamza al-Masri could be extradited within weeks. Britain's Home Office, or interior ministry, said it would hand over the suspects "as quickly as possible."

The Egyptian-born al-Masri, 54, filed an appeal, along with the four other suspects, after the court in Strasbourg authorized Britain to transfer him to the United States on charges he supported al-Qaida and aided a fatal kidnapping in Yemen.

Al-Masri, who could face a sentence of more than 100 years in an ultrasecure "Supermax" prison, had argued such treatment would contravene Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits inhumane and degrading treatment.

"Today the Grand Chamber decided to reject the request. This means that the Chamber judgment of April 10, 2012, is now final," the court said in a statement.

The decision also concerned appeals lodged by four other defendants, Babar Ahmad, Syed Tahla Ahsan, Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled Al-Fawwaz, all of whom have been detained in Britain pending extradition to the United States.

A Home Office spokesman said that "we will work to ensure that the individuals are handed over to the U.S. authorities as quickly as possible."

The family of Ahmad called on the government to halt the extradition process, saying British prosecutors were in possession of the material that forms the basis of the U.S. indictment and should pursue the case in Britain.

Al-Masri is one of the most radical Islamists in Britain, a country he has attacked for its support of U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The one-eyed radical with a metal hook for a hand has praised the September 11, 2001, attacks, and was once a preacher at a North London mosque but was later convicted of inciting murder and racial hatred. He is being held in a British jail.

He was indicted in 2004 by a federal grand jury in New York, accused of providing material support to al-Qaida and of involvement in a hostage-taking in Yemen in 1998 in which four hostages -- three Britons and one Australian -- were killed.

He was also accused of providing material support to al-Qaida by trying to set up a training camp for fighters in Oregon and of trying to organize support for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

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