NY jail sees terror suspect's fake arms as weapons

Associated Press Modified: October 13, 2012 at 1:16 pm •  Published: October 13, 2012

Similarly, the U.S. Marshals Service, which transports Mustafa to and from court, does not allow him to wear the hook while in their custody.

Billingsley said inmates with prosthetics are medically evaluated to determine whether other accommodations or devices would be appropriate. Mustafa is expected to be outfitted with a new prosthetic in the shape of a hand to replace his hook hand at taxpayers' expense.

Such modern prosthetic hands can range in price from $15,000 to $100,000, said John N. Billock, head of the Orthotics & Prosthetics Rehabilitation Engineering Centre in Warren, Ohio.

Forty years ago, hooks were considered superior to prosthetics in the shape of hands, but that has changed with advances made in electrically powered prosthetic hands, he said.

"In my profession, there was a time when the mechanical hands were just considered not to be as functional. We live in a world made for hands," he said.

Billock said he has not worked with prisoners but can understand why Mustafa misses his hook. He said people missing both hands sometimes prefer to have one hook prosthetic and one hand-shaped prosthetic because they serve different purposes. Farmers, for example, like to have a hook because they can use it as a tool.

Mustafa, who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, lost his arms to explosives. He is also missing an eye.

Mustafa became well-known in the 1990s as his Finsbury Park Mosque in London became a training ground for extremist Islamists, including Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and attempted "shoe bomber" Richard Reid. He had been jailed since 2004 in Britain on separate charges.


Associated Press writers Gregory Katz in London and Tom Hays in New York contributed to this report.