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October 9, 2012

Egyptian-born terror suspect pleads not guilty

NEW YORK — An Egyptian-born preacher pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that he conspired with Seattle men to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon.

Abu Hamza al-Masri entered the plea shortly before U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest set an Aug. 26 trial date for al-Masri. He's also accused of helping abduct 16 hostages, two of them American tourists, in Yemen in 1998.

Earlier Tuesday, two men brought from England to face terrorism charges made their first appearance before another Manhattan judge. Their trial was set for October 2013.

Khaled al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary are charged with participating in the bombings of embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in August 1998. The attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. They were indicted in a case that also charged Osama bin Laden. Both pleaded not guilty on Saturday. The judge on Tuesday set their trial date for October 2013.

Al-Masri, indicted under the name Mustafa Kamel Mustafa with al-Masri listed as an alias, became well known in the 1990s as his Finsbury Park Mosque in London became a training ground for extremist Islamists including Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid. He had been jailed since 2004 in Britain on separate charges.

Al-Masri has unusual needs in prison after losing part of each of his arms in what he says was a fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

He also is missing an eye. His lawyers in England said he suffers from depression, chronic sleep deprivation, diabetes and other ailments.

His court-appointed lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, said Saturday that he needed the use of his arms and wanted his prosthetics back. "Otherwise, he will not be able to function in a civilized manner." She did not return a request for comment Monday.

Traci Billingsley, a U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman, said she cannot provide specific information about individual inmates.

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