- Haroon Aswat, 41, sat impassively as he was given the maximum sentence
- Aswat is accused of attempting to set up a terrorist training camp in the US
- He was close to Abu Hamza in the 1990s and did his shopping for him
- He pleaded guilty to conspiracy and providing material support to al Qaeda
- British national of Indian origin may apply to serve his sentence in the UK
Haroon Aswat, 41, sat impassively as a judge gave him the maximum sentence possible for helping to try and set up a terrorist training camp in America under orders from the radical cleric
A British man described as Abu Hamza's personal assistant was last night jailed for 20 years at a court in New York.
Haroon Aswat, 41, sat impassively as a judge gave him the maximum sentence possible for helping to try and set up a terrorist training camp in America under orders from the radical cleric.
The court heard that in the 1990s he was close to Hamza for three years and did his shopping and drove him around at the Finsbury Park Mosque in North London.
Aswat, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, had only started working for Hamza because he felt sorry for him as he had no hands and had to use hooks, the court heard.
Aswat pleaded guilty to conspiracy and providing material support to al Qaeda for trying to set up the camp in Bly, Oregon, in 1999.
The British national of Indian origin could now apply to serve his sentence in the UK.
He was arrested in Zambia in 2005 and has been in custody for 10 years so he would be eligible for parole in seven years' time.
Aswat had been an electrical engineering student until the 1990s when he met Hamza and 'felt at home' at the Finsbury Park Mosque, his lawyer Peter Quijano told Manhattan's Federal Court.
Mr Quijano said that Aswat felt ‘wanted’ by Hamza and that he helped him with ‘day to day chores, living tasks’ and 'literally getting things off the shelf'
At Hamza’s behest Aswat and another man, Oussama Kassir, flew to the US to set up the Oregon camp.
Aswat's intended role was to provide religious training at the camp, which prosecutors say was set up to support al Qaeda and train Muslim men to fight.
Among the other evidence produced at the trial was a ledger recovered from an al Qaeda safe house in Pakistan in 2002 which listed a number of individuals associated with the Islamic militant group, including Aswat.
The safe house was used by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the supposed mastermind of the September 11 2001 attacks.
Prosecutor Shane Stansbury described Aswat as a 'loyal and proud' follower of Hamza who was 'hand picked' for his mission.
He said that Hamza 'spewed a message of hate and violence' and that Aswat 'took this message to heart'.
Aswat only faced justice in the US after a lengthy extradition battle.
Following his arrest in Zambia the European Court of Human Rights blocked his extradition because of his mental condition.
After assurances from the United States that Aswat would receive adequate care London's High Court approved the extradition and he arrived in the country in October 2014.
District Judge Katherine Forrest, who jailed Hamzu for life earlier this year after he was extradited to the US, told Aswat that she would support an application to serve the rest of his sentence in the UK, should he make one.
Before he was sentenced Aswat, who wore prison issue dark blue t-shirt and green trousers, addressed the court and apologised to America for breaking the law.
He said: 'I have chosen patience over retaliation, forgiveness over enmity and peace over violence...
'..I have learned that crime does not pay'