Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Hostage testifies against British hate preacher

08 May 2014, 06:51

New York - British hate preacher Abu Hamza admitted supplying advice and a satellite phone to the Islamist kidnappers of 16 Western tourists in Yemen in 1998, a survivor told a court on Wednesday.

Mary Quin, a US-New Zealand citizen who currently heads a government agency in New Zealand, confronted Abu Hamza head-on in a Manhattan federal court, where he is on trial for 11 kidnapping and terror charges.

She spoke about the terrifying 24-hour kidnapping that ended with four hostages being killed and testified to meeting Abu Hamza in October 2000 while researching her published memoir "Kidnapped in Yemen".

During that interview at Finsbury Park Mosque in London, Quin said Abu Hamza justified the kidnapping and killing of civilians in defence of Islam.

"Islamically it's a good thing to do," she quoted Abu Hamza as saying of the kidnapping of foreign tourists.

He told Quin that the chief kidnapper, Abu Hasan, called him during the kidnapping and that he advised him to stay back to avoid being killed during the Yemen army's rescue operation, she said.

When she asked how the kidnappers got their satellite phone, Abu Hamza said: "It came from outside."

"From you?" Quin asked.

"Yeah perhaps," he replied, according to her testimony and a transcript of the interview submitted as evidence.

The cleric said the motive was to exchange the Australian, British and US hostages for detainees in Yemen, but was vague on whether they included Britons.

Five British men and an Algerian were arrested in Yemen on 23 December, five days before the kidnapping.

Three other British men were arrested on 27 January 1999. Among the eight Britons were a son and step-son of Abu Hamza.

At no point did he express regret to Quin for the four Westerners who died during the rescue operation, she said.

At one point, however, he even implied they got off lightly by saying it would have been "easy" to have fired a rocket and blown up a car of tourists.

The kidnapping was intended to undermine the Yemeni government and end the tourist industry, which was bankrolling "unIslamic behaviour", Abu Hamza told her.

'Defendant was laughing'

Quin said Abu Hamza laughed after asking why none of the hostages had a cell phone.

"The defendant was laughing and said you should have a compass as well," Quin said.

Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, 56, better known in Britain as Abu Hamza al-Masri, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges but faces life in prison if convicted.

Blind in one eye and with both hands blown off in an explosion in Afghanistan, he sat quietly in tracksuit bottoms and a T-shirt, taking notes.

Quin said he claimed not to know the arrested Britons were going to Yemen, but if he had, would have advised them to travel under false identities.

He would also have told them to take bombs and "some James Bond things", she quoted Abu Hamza as saying.

She was the second of the two US former hostages to testify about their horrific ordeal and the more than two-hour gunfight that ended in their rescue.

The kidnappers lined up hostages on a berm and opened fire between their legs, she said.

"I could feel a bullet go so close to my face I felt the air move," she said. She described the "zinging sound of the bullets" as "just like in the movies".

At one point she grabbed a gun off a kidnapper nicknamed "Purple Skirt" because of his traditional attire, in her bid to run for safety.

He was shot and trying to hold onto his AK-47, as the two screamed at each other, she said.

"I put my foot down on his head and that gave me enough leverage to rip the gun out of his hand."

Abu Hamza was indicted in the United States in 2004 and served eight years in prison in Britain before losing his last appeal against extradition in 2012.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...