London, Feb.8 : Radical preacher Abu Hamza is likely to spend the rest of his life in an American jail after British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith signed an extradition order Thursday afternoon.
If Hamza does not lodge an appeal against the extradition order within the next fortnight, he will be handed over to American authorities within 28 days, The Telegraph reports. According to the paper, Hamza's lawyers must lodge an appeal before the High Court by February 21 to ensure the extradition order's revocation. Should the High Court reject the plea, Hamza can subsequently take his case to the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights.
Hamza has been accused of having a role to play in the kidnapping by Islamic radicals of 16 tourists in the Yemen in 1998, four of whom were killed in a rescue attempt. It is claimed that Hamza bought a satellite phone for the hostage takers, who included his son, Mohamed, and step-son, Mohsen Gailan, and that he received calls from it during the course of the kidnap plot.
Three Britons - Ruth Williamson, Margaret Whitehouse and Peter Rowe, a lecturer in mathematics at Durham University - were among four tourists killed when they were used as human shields during a rescue attempt by Yemeni forces.
Other charges claim that he tried to set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon, and that he trafficked men, money and equipment to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The former preacher at London's Finsbury Park Mosque was arrested on the US charges in May 2004, but subsequently was tried for incitement to murder at the Old Bailey and jailed for seven years.
His leave to appeal to the House of Lords was turned down last year and the "fast track" extradition hearings re-opened at Westminster Magistrates Court.
In November Hamza failed to have his extradition stopped on the grounds he would receive inhuman treatment in prison. He then tried to appeal to the Attorney General claiming that the offences with which he is charged should be tried in Britain.
Hamza, 48, is likely to be housed in a supermax prison in Colorado where he would be subject to special measures.
Alun Jones QC, for Hamza, had claimed the preacher was "likely to remain in such conditions for the rest of his natural life."
The cleric is in poor health after suffering a number of traumatic injuries and medical complaints including diabetes, raised blood pressure, the loss of sight in his right eye and poor vision in the left and the amputation of the forearms of both his arms.
If Hamza appeals Jacqui Smith's decision to extradite him, he may not set foot in America until this time next year, legal experts said.
Mark Spragg, the solicitor at London firm Jeffrey Russell Green, warned that the extradition of Hamza is likely to be a long and arduous process taking anything up a year.