, LONDON, Oct 6 – Radical Islamist preacher Abu Hamza and four other terror suspects were on their way from Britain to the United States on Saturday after a court rejected their last-ditch court bid to block their extradition.
A legal saga that has dragged on for more than a decade in the courts of Britain and Europe finally ended when the Egyptian-born former imam was whisked from prison and flown out of a military airbase.
Two senior judges at the High Court in London dismissed the men’s pleas to be allowed a stay of extradition and within hours, the suspects were airborne.
Abu Hamza and fellow suspects Khaled Al-Fawwaz, Syed Tahla Ahsan, Adel Abdul Bary and Babar Ahmad, left from the Mildenhall air force base, in eastern England, which is used by the US military.
The two jets provided by the US authorities took off shortly before midnight (2300 GMT) on Friday, Scotland Yard police headquarters said.
Abu Hamza has been indicted in the United States on charges including setting up an Al-Qaeda-style training camp for militants in the state of Oregon and involvement in the taking of 16 hostages in Yemen in 1998.
“I am pleased the decision of the court meant that these men, who used every available opportunity to frustrate and delay the extradition process over many years, could finally be removed,” said Home Secretary Theresa May.
“This government has co-operated fully with the courts and pressed at every stage to ensure this happened.
“We have worked tirelessly, alongside the US authorities, the police and the prison service, to put plans in place so that tonight these men could be handed over within hours of the court’s decision.
“It is right that these men, who are all accused of very serious offences, will finally face justice,” the interior minister said in a statement.