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Terrorism suspect pleads not guilty

NEW YORK — Abu Hamza al-Masri, the Islamic cleric accused of aiding Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network, pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges Tuesday in a US courtroom after eight years of fighting extradition from Britain.

Abu Hamza, 54, who was born in Egypt and was granted British citizenship in 1986, was charged in an 11-count indictment filed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

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He is accused of supporting the Taliban with money and troops and aiding a 1998 kidnapping in Yemen that left four hostages dead.

He and two Al Qaeda suspects facing terrorism charges in a separate case tied to the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa arrived in New York from Britain on Oct. 6 at about 2:45 a.m., prosecutors said. All three face life in prison if convicted of the charges.

‘‘After years of protracted legal battles, the extradition of these three alleged terrorists to the US is a watershed moment in our nation’s efforts to eradicate terrorism,’’ US Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan said in an Oct. 6 statement.

The United States has sought to prosecute Abu Hamza, who it identifies as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, since May 27, 2004, when he was arrested in London by the Metropolitan Police at the request of federal prosecutors in New York.

The United States alleges that Abu Hamza also attempted in 1999 to start a terrorist training camp for Al Qaeda, located in Bly, Ore., and dispatched two other men to travel there from London to assist.

Khalid al-Fawwaz, 50, a Saudi national, and Adel Abdel Bary, 52, of Egypt, are charged with participating with bin Laden in a global plot to kill US nationals.

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