May 12, 2009 / 10:21 PM / 11 years ago

Swedish man convicted of terrorism charges in NY

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Lebanese-born Swedish man was found guilty of several terrorism-related charges on Tuesday for attempting to set up an al Qaeda militant training camp in the United States and websites on how to make bombs.

Oussama Abdullah Kassir, who was extradited from the Czech Republic to New York in 2007, was found guilty by a U.S. federal jury on multiple charges, including supporting terrorism and al Qaeda, by attempting to set up the camp in Bly, Oregon, from 1999 to early 2000.

The jury in Manhattan federal court deliberated for less than a day in convicting Kassir after a three-week trial. He faces up to life in prison when sentenced on September 2.

During the trial, prosecutors said Kassir was a follower of Egyptian-born Abu Hamza al-Masri, a one-armed Muslim cleric who is serving a seven-year sentence in Britain for inciting his followers to murder nonbelievers.

They said in 1999 Kassir traveled to Oregon to assess the suitability of a property for the camp and set up security patrols on Hamza’s orders. The camp was never established.

Then from December 2001 until 2005, Kassir operated at least three websites that contained manuals such as “The Mujahideen Explosives Handbook” and “The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook,” prosecutors told jurors.

Kassir’s lawyer Mark DeMarco said he should not be judged by his religious beliefs and that the prosecution had tried to “scare” the jury with images of Osama bin Laden and frequent references to al Qaeda, even though it did not present evidence that Kassir was ever a member of the group.

Kassir, who was born in Lebanon but became a Swedish citizen in 1989, was arrested in Prague in 2005.

Another suspect in the case, Haroon Rashid Aswat, a British citizen and one of Hamza’s chief aides, is appealing his extradition to the United States.

Hamza, who also faces charges for helping plot the capture of 16 western hostages in Yemen in 1998, won an interim order in 2008 from the European Court of Human Rights blocking his extradition to the United States.

(Additional reporting by Edith Honan)

Editing by Michelle Nichols and Bill Trott

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