NEW YORK — An Islamic cleric convicted of terrorism charges in plots to kidnap tourists in Yemen in 1998 and build a terrorist training camp in Oregon is scheduled to be sentenced.
Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, 56, faces a likely life sentence on Jan. 8 after his May conviction.
His lawyers have urged U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest to take into account that their client will have a particularly hard time in prison because he is missing hands and forearms and has other ailments.
They also say U.S. authorities promised Great Britain when Mustafa was extradited to the United States that he would not be housed at a maximum security facility in Florence, Colorado.
Prosecutors said the government made no such promise. They also say he should be sentenced to life in prison.
Mustafa was convicted of aiding terrorists who kidnapped tourists in Yemen and of helping others plot to open a terror training camp in Bly, Oregon. Four tourists were killed in the Yemen kidnapping. Federal sentencing guidelines call for a life sentence.
In court papers, Mustafa’s attorneys said he would face unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment if his amputated forearms, psoriasis, diabetes and high blood pressure weren’t taken into account at sentencing in Manhattan Federal Court. They recommended a prison term less than life.
They told Forrest that housing Mustafa at Colorado’s Supermax federal prison, sometimes referred to as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” would violate assurances the United States made to British judges to secure his 2012 extradition to America.
Prosecutors said in court papers that the government never promised the United Kingdom that Mustafa, also known as Abu Hamza al-Masri, would not be assigned to Supermax.
Prosecutors also insisted life in prison was the only appropriate sentence, saying that at the Finsbury Park Mosque in London, Mustafa worked “tirelessly to drive his young, impressionable followers to participate in acts of violence and murder across the globe.”
They said he “openly and unapologetically used the power of his hateful words to distort religion by giving purported religious justification for acts of terrorism.”
The government said evidence at trial proved Mustafa’s actions went far beyond his words as he helped ensure kidnappers in Yemen had a satellite phone and he gave guidance to the leader of the kidnapping.