When news happens, text BAZ and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Former hostage's relief at extradition of Abu Hamza
3:30pm Friday 28th September 2012 in Local
A HOOK man, who suffered personal tragedy at the hands of terrorists, has welcome the imminent extradition of hate cleric Abu Hamza.
Laurence Whitehouse was on holiday with his wife Margaret in Yemen in 1998 when they were among a group taken hostage by terrorists linked to Abu Hamza. Mrs Whitehouse, a teacher at Long Sutton Primary School, was killed when Yemeni forces tried to free them by force.
Hamza this week failed in his bid to stay in this country after the European Court of Human Rights ruled there was no reason why he should not be extradited to the USA. He is facing 11 charges relating to the kidnap of the group of 16 hostages in Yemen. Mr Whitehouse, 67, said: “It has been a long and tortuous process. It will be the first time the issues have been explicitly dealt with. But it is a bit of a pity it will be in the USA. That’s because they admit taped evidence in their courts, from phone calls. I wish it had been over years ago because Hamza’s role is clear to everyone.”
Hamza, who was based in Finsbury Park, north London, is accused of providing funding and a satellite telephone for the hostage-takers. The American authorities first requested his extradition in 2004, but the process was sidelined when Hamza was charged with terrorism offences in this country.
In 2006, he was found guilty of 11 charges including inciting murder and race hate and was jailed for seven years. Hamza, who was born in Egypt in 1958 and claims to have lost both hands and an eye fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, is also facing charges of inciting jihad and conspiring to establish a jihadi training camp in the USA.
Mr Whitehouse, of Nightingale Gardens, said his wife died trying to stop the bleeding of an Australian tourist in their group, for which she received a posthumous bravery award, and he believes it was the terrorists who killed her.
He said he may consider going to the USA for Hamza’s trial, depending on his commitments. Since the tragedy, he said he has received much support from his late wife’s family, and he remarried two years ago. He is a governor of Hook Junior School and has travelled abroad, including trips for fundraising and aid projects.
He said: “It was appalling that Hamza was regarded as a figure of fun at one time, but he was obviously much more than that. He was trying to rescue his son from Yemen, but was willing to sacrifice anyone who impeded him. He preaches a message of hatred.”