British radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri today pleaded not guilty in a court here to 11 terror charges, including plotting to set up a terrorist training camp on US soil and providing material support to al-Qaeda.
Egyptian-born 54-year-old one-eyed and hooked-hand cleric appeared in Manhattan federal court amid tight security for his arraignment before US District Judge Katherine Forrest, his second court appearance after being extradited from UK over the weekend.
Forrest set an August 26, 2013, court date for al-Masri's trial and remanded him to custody in the maximum security detention center next to the courthouse.
Wearing blue prison clothes, al-Masri briefly replied "Yes, your honour" when asked by Forrest if he was pleading not guilty to the 11 terror charges against him, including hostage-taking in Yemen in 1998 that resulted in four deaths, a conspiracy to establish a terrorist training camp in Oregon in 1999 and supporting violent jihad in Afghanistan.
He faces a maximum term of life imprisonment.
Al-Masri was not wearing his trademark prosthetic hook on his arm. It was removed by US authorities after he was extradited from Britain. He had appeared without the hook when he made his first court appearance on Saturday.
Al-Masri's court-appointed lawyer Jeremy Schneider said outside the courthouse his client is having a hard time without his prosthetics, which he requires to function properly.
"I believe he has use of them for a certain part of the day but not long enough to allow him to function the way he should function," he said.
"As you can well imagine, he's not happy he's in a situation like this without use of his prosthetics. He's having a hard time. He doesn't have hands," he said.
Al-Masri is one of the five terror suspects to be flown in from Britain after years of fighting extradition to the US.