Abu Hamza al-Masri was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1958 as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, the son of a naval officer and a primary school principal.
After initially studying civil engineering, he entered the UK in 1979 on a student visa.
He was granted UK citizenship when he met and married his first wife, a British Muslim convert, in 1980. Hamza previously said she was the one who got him interested in Islam and converted after taking time off from his I work as a bouncer in a nightclub. in London’s Soho.
Finding that his new religion and his work were incompatible, he resumed his studies in civil engineering at Brunel University and Brighton Polytechnic, where he earned a degree.
He then divorced his first wife, the mother of his eldest son, Muhammed Kamel, who at the age of 17 was convicted of being part of a bomb plot in Yemen and jailed for three years in 1999.
He met and married his second wife in 1984 in a Muslim ceremony in London and had seven other children.
Heavily influenced by the Iranian revolution, he became interested in Islam and politics, particularly the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan.
After meeting the founder of Afghan Mujahideen in 1987, he moved to Egypt and then Afghanistan, and it was in the years that followed that he lost his hands and an eye.
Over the years, Hamza has given several different reasons for the loss of his hands and eyes. These include a highway project in Pakistan, an explosion during a mine clearance project in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, fighting jihad as Pakistani mujahideen, and working with the Pakistani army in Lahore when an explosives experiment went wrong.
After spending time in Afghanistan and Bosnia in the early 1990s, he returned to Britain and took on a new name: Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri.
It was in London that Hamza began his rise to public notoriety as imam of the Finsbury Park Mosque, where he arrived in 1997.
A year later, in 1998, he helped organize the hostage-taking of 16 mostly British tourists in Yemen. Three Britons and an Australian killed in rescue mission.
In 2000, he set up a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon, and sent volunteers and money to Afghanistan to support al Qaeda and the Taliban.
He firmly placed himself on the national radar in 2001 after speaking out in support of Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks.
His incendiary speeches led to his being suspended from his post at Finsbury Park Mosque by the Charity Commission the following year.
In 2003, legal moves begin to have Hamza deported to Yemen, a move he appealed.
In 2004, Hamza was arrested on a US extradition warrant on charges of conspiring to take hostages in Yemen, financing terrorism and organizing a terrorist training camp in Oregon. He charged with 15 offenses under the Terrorism Act, temporarily suspending US extradition.
In 2006, Hamza was jailed for seven years at the Old Bailey after being found guilty on 11 out of 15 charges, but the courts are still fighting to extradite him.
He was finally extradited in October 2012 and appeared before a US court, accused under the name of Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, where he pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges.
In May 2014, Hamza was convicted on all 11 counts of terrorism offenses in Manhattan Federal Court.
In 2020 it emerged that he was suing over alleged “cruel and degrading” conditions at his high-security maximum-security prison in Colorado.