Accused terrorist Abu Hamza al-Masri may have lost both of his hands, but he’ll soon be gaining a spork, if his lawyers get their way.
According to the Sun, the jailed extremist preacher's legal team has been pleading to outfit him with a new prosthesis ever since jail officials took away his metal hook, on the grounds that it posed a security risk.
Hamza, a 54-year-old Muslim cleric who reportedly lost both of his hands in a demining attempt in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in the 1990s, is being held in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center. He faces 11 counts related to terrorism that include hostage-taking in Yemen, conspiracy to establish a militant training camp on U.S. soil and agitating for a holy war in Afghanistan, according to the BBC.
For months, Hamza’s lawyers have complained that his current prosthetics are unsuitable and that jailers have been slow in accommodating him. Hamza’s defense lawyer Lindsey Lewis told a Manhattan federal judge in December that he is “a handicapped individual living in a non-handicapped cell, in a non-handicapped facility. … It is virtually impossible for him to use the faucet.”
The British publication The Express reported that a prosthetic supplier visited Hamza in jail to take measurements for rubber hands, but that they did not follow up the appointment because they were concerned they would not be paid.
And now Hamza’s attorneys are returning with a somewhat unusual request: in place of a hook or a rubber hand, they would like for their client to be outfitted with a spork – a combination spoon and fork.
“We’ve been trying for five months now to get our client a better prosthetic limb, but they keep changing the time lines,” Lewis said. “It’s very frustrating for him. He finds it hard to eat, use the bathroom and even turn on the hot and cold taps.”
Hamza’s legal team is also requesting that he be allowed to use a laptop from his jail cell so that he can work on his own defense case. The growing demands come as federal prosecutors have revealed that they are only about half-finished going through the evidence against Hamza, which reportedly includes 3,240 audio cassettes, 670 videos, 619 CDs, and 340 DVDS.
Hamza’s case gained an unexpected amount of media attention in September, when the BBC reported that Queen Elizabeth II had personally pushed for his arrest years earlier in a highly unusual intervention. The news outlet’s security correspondent Frank Gardner reported that prior to the accused terrorist’s arrest, the queen had claimed to be “upset” over the fact that Hamza, who is believed to have aided Osama Bin Laden's al Qaeda network, was still “at large.”
“The queen was pretty upset that there was no way to arrest him. She couldn't understand; surely there had been some law that he had broken?” Gardner said in a radio interview. “She spoke to the home secretary at the time and said, ‘Surely this man must have broken some laws. Why is he still at large?’ He was conducting these radical activities, and he called Britain a toilet. He was incredibly anti-British, and yet he was sucking up money from this country for a long time. He was a huge embarrassment to Muslims, who condemned him."
Hamza is scheduled to go trial in New York City next year, and faces the possibility of life in prison.