Abdullah el-Faisal

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Abdullah el-Faisal
Born Trevor William Forrest
(1963-09-10) 10 September 1963 (age 50)[1]
Saint James Parish, Jamaica
Nationality Jamaican
Other names Abdullah al-Faisal, Sheikh Faisal, and Sheik Faisal
Occupation Cleric
Criminal charge
Under the Offences against the Person Act 1861 with soliciting the murder of Jews, Americans, Christians, and Hindus, and using threatening words to stir up racial hatred in English- and Arabic-language tapes of speeches to his followers[2]
Criminal penalty
Nine years in prison
Criminal status
Released (25 May 2007); deported
Spouse(s) Two currently; one of whom is Zubeida Khan
Children 3
Parents Merlyn Forrest (mother); Lorenzo Forrest (father)
Conviction(s) 24 February 2003[2]

Abdullah el-Faisal (born Trevor William Forrest, also known as Abdullah al-Faisal, Sheikh Faisal, Sheik Faisal, and Imam Al-Jamaikee, born 10 September 1963[1]) is a Muslim cleric who preached in the United Kingdom until he was convicted of stirring up racial hatred and urging his followers to murder Jews, Hindus, Christians, and Americans.[2][3][4][5]

El-Faisal was sentenced to nine years in prison, of which he served four years before being deported to Jamaica in 2007.[4][6] He subsequently traveled to Africa, but was deported from Botswana in 2009 and from Kenya back to Jamaica in January 2010.

Early life[edit]

El-Faisal was born in Saint James Parish to an evangelical Christian family which belonged to the Salvation Army church, a Christian denomination.[7][8] He grew up in the small farming village of Point, about 14 miles from the city of Montego Bay, in upper St. James, Jamaica.[9][10][11] He attended Springfield All-Age, then Maldon Primary and Junior High. At age 16, he converted to Islam,[12][13] after being introduced to the religion by a teacher at Maldon High School.[8]

Shortly after graduating Maldon in 1980 he assumed the name Abdullah el-Faisal, and he changed his name legally in 1983.[1] In 1981 he went to Trinidad on a Saudi Arabian government-sponsored six-week crash course in Islamic and Arabic studies, where he was taught the skills of being an imam.[1] He left Jamaica in 1983 for Guyana where he studied Arabic and Islam for a year. He then moved to Saudi Arabia where he studied at Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Muhammad university of Riyadh and then moved to the UK later in the 1980s.[14][15]

He went to Saudi Arabia on a Saudi government scholarship in November 1984.[1] El-Faisal studied Islam for seven years at the Al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.[2][8]

England: 1991–2003[edit]

El-Faisal was sent to the United Kingdom to preach by Sheikh Raji. He returned to the UK in 1991, became the imam at the Brixton Mosque in South London,[16][17][18] began preaching to crowds of up to 500 people at the mosque and at Brixton Town Hall.[19][20] He married his second wife, Pakistani-British biology graduate Zubeida Khan whom he met months after his arrival, in 1992, thereby acquiring rights of residence.[2][2][21][22][23][24] He remained married, however, to his first wife, and as of 2010 both marriages were still intact.[25] In 1993, el-Faisal was ejected by Brixton Mosque's Salafi administration who objected to his radical preaching,[26][27]

Afterward, he gave a lecture he called The Devil's Deception of the Saudi Salafis, scorning the Salafi Muslims, calling them "major hypocrites."[28] In a taped lecture in the late 1990s entitled The Devil's Deception of the 21st Century House Niggers he declared the African-American Salafi preacher Abu Usamah kaafir (an apostate).[2][12][29][30][31][32] He also moved to Tower Hamlets, East London, where he began a study center.[16]

Referred to as "Sheikh" by his followers,[4] el-Faisal travelled and lectured to audiences of predominantly young Muslim males in mosques in Birmingham, London, and Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, and in Manchester, Worthing, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Swansea, Coventry, Maidenhead, Tipton, Beeston, and venues in Scotland and Wales.[2][12][21][33][34] Some of his lectures were taped and sold at Islamic bookshops.[35] He also called on Muslim mothers to raise their children to be jihad soldiers by the age of 15.[36] It is the content of those taped lectures that served as the basis for his later trial and conviction.[2]

In February 2002, El-Faisal's tapes were purchased by an undercover police officer at an Islamic bookshop at 62 Brick Lane in London and seized under a search warrant at Zam Zam Bookshop at 388 Green Street in East Ham and at his home at 104 Albert Square in Stratford.[2] He was arrested on 18 February 2002.[2]

El-Faisal is an associate of Abu Hamza al-Masri, the Egyptian ousted from the Finsbury Park mosque who is known for preaching against non-Muslims, and who is currently incarcerated in the United Kingdom for various offenses.[37] El-Faisal is reportedly a former supporter of Osama bin Laden, and has been linked to al-Qaeda members.[38][39]

Conviction and imprisonment: 2003–07[edit]

Conviction

After a four-week trial at the Old Bailey, el-Faisal was found guilty by a jury of six men and six women on 24 February 2003 of: (a) three charges of soliciting the murder of Jews, Americans, Hindus, and Christians; and (b) two charges of using threatening words to stir up racial hatred, in tapes of speeches to his followers.[2]

The prior December, a poll had indicated that 8 per cent of the British Muslims it sampled would support terrorist acts against England.[40] He was also the first Muslim cleric to be tried in the UK.[4]

Taped lectures

In tapes of lectures he had given, he exhorted Muslim women to buy toy guns for their children, to train them for jihad.[2] El-Faisal tried to recruit British schoolboys for terrorist training camps, promising them "seventy-two virgins in paradise" if they died fighting a holy war. El-Faisal said "Those who want to go to Jannah [paradise], it's easy, just kill a Kaffar [unbeliever] ... by killing that Kaffar you have purchased your ticket to paradise."[2] He told audiences to kill Hindus, Jews, and other non-Muslims like "cockroaches."[41]

On one tape, titled "Jihad", he said: "Our methodology is the bullet, not the ballot."[2] In a tape called "Rules of Jihad", thought to have been made before the 9/11 attacks, he said: "You have to learn how to shoot. You have to learn how to fly planes, drive tanks, and you have to learn how to load your guns and to use missiles. You are only allowed to use nuclear weapons in that country which is 100% unbelievers." He encouraged the use of "anything, even chemical weapons," to "exterminate non-believers."[2] A picture of the burning World Trade Center was on the cover of one recording.[42]

He lectured: "So you go to India, and if you see a Hindu walking down the road you are allowed to kill him and take his money, is that clear?"[2] He also suggested that nuclear power stations could be fueled with the bodies of Hindus, slaughtered for their "oppression" of Muslims in Kashmir.[43] "Jews," el-Faisal said, "should be killed ... as by Hitler." He said: "People with British passports, if you fly into Israel, it is easy. Fly into Israel and do whatever you can. If you die, you are up in paradise. How do you fight a Jew? You kill a Jew. In the case of Hindus, by bombing their businesses."[44]

During the trial, he denied he had intended to incite people to violence. He also testified that he had held Osama bin Laden in "great respect," but that bin Laden had "lost the path" since 11 September.[45]

Sentencing and appeal

El-Faisal was sentenced on 7 March 2003 to nine years in prison.[46] He received seven years for soliciting murder, 12 months to run concurrently for using threatening words with intent to stir up racial hatred, and a further two years (to run consecutively) for distributing threatening recordings with intent to stir up racial hatred. Old Bailey judge Peter Beaumont delivered the sentence. He said el-Faisal had "fanned the flames of hostility", and told him: "As the jury found, you not only preached hate, but the words you uttered in those meetings were recorded to reach a wider audience. You urged those who listened and watched to kill those who did not share your faith."[4] The judge suggested that el-Faisal serve at least half his sentence, and then be deported.[47]

On 17 February 2004 el-Faisal lost an appeal of his conviction.[2][48] While in prison, he sought to become a representative of Muslim prisoners, leading demonstrations and hunger strikes, and saying: "if you're a cleric, you have to set an example for other Muslim prisoners to follow, and you're not supposed to crack under pressure."[49] He ended up serving four years.

Followers: 9/11 plotter, Richard Reid, 7/7 and Flight 253 bombers[edit]

Prosecutors said he preached to 2001 shoe bomber Richard Reid and 9/11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui.[43]

In addition, two of the four accused 2005 7/7 suicide bombers, Muhammad Sidique Khan, responsible for the Edgware Road blast that killed 6 people, and Jamaican-born Briton Germaine Lindsay, responsible for the blast that killed 26 people at King's Cross tube station, were followers of El-Faisal.[50][51] In an interview with the BBC in June 2008, he admitted knowing Germaine Lindsay but insisted he had not radicalized him.[52][53]

In a May 2005 online posting under the name "farouk1986," Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the suspected Christmas Day 2009 Flight 253 bomber, referred to El-Faisal, writing: "i thought once they are arrested, no one hears about them for life and the keys to their prison wards are thrown away. That’s what I heard sheikh faisal of UK say (he has also been arrested i heard)."[54]

Deportations from the UK, Botswana, and Kenya: May 2007–present[edit]

Upon being eligible for parole, el-Faisal was released from prison, deported to Jamaica, and permanently banned from the UK on 25 May 2007. He remained on an international watch list.[55] Andrew Dismore, a Labour Member of Parliament, noted that deportation might not adequately address the risks posed by el-Faisal, saying: "Once he's deported to Jamaica, what restrictions will there be to prevent him spreading his message of hate over the Internet?"[56] He is said to preach extremists views online at paltalk chat rooms and associated with the authentic tawheed website.[57]

On his arrival in Jamaica, the Islamic Council of Jamaica banned him from preaching in its mosques.[58] He began to again give lectures, conduct Q&A sessions via online chats, and established himself at the pulpit of a mosque in Spanish Town, just west of Kingston, Jamaica. The content of his sermons remained the same as that which was submitted at his trial.[59]

In June 2008 he was preaching in South Africa.[60] He reportedly traveled by road through various countries in Africa including Nigeria, Angola, Malawi, Swaziland, Mozambique, Botswana, and Tanzania before entering Kenya.[61][62]

Along the way, Botswana had deported him on suspicion that he was recruiting and training young Batswana to become suicide bombers, and that he was linked to a since-destroyed training camp outside Lobatse.[63]

Kenya

El-Faisal was allowed entry to Kenya on 24 December 2009, due to a computer error. He was arrested there on New Year's Eve 2009 by anti-terror police as he was leaving a mosque in the town of Mombasa. Authorities said they arrested him because he breached the terms of his tourist visa, which did not allow him to preach. He was initially stuck in Kenya despite attempts to deport him: because of his history of involvement in terrorist activities, because other countries refused to allow him to transit through them. While Jamaica had said it would accept him, and keep a close eye on him, South Africa, the U.K., the U.S., and Tanzania all declined to issue him transit visas that would allow him to connect to flights to Jamaica.[64][65]

He was deported from Kenya on 7 January 2010, which sought to send him to the West African nation of Gambia, which agreed to accept el-Faisal at his request.[66][67] But as he was being transported through Nigeria, Nigerian authorities refused to grant him a transit visa and instead sent him back to Kenya on 10 January 2010.[68][69] The Gambian government also indicated it would not grant him entry because of the "bad publicity" surrounding his deportation.[70]

A few hundred Muslim Kenyan protesters attended a street demonstration 8 January 2010, protesting the "unfair" treatment of el-Faisal, chanting "Allahu Akbar."[71] On 15 January Kenyan security forces shot in the air and fired tear gas at hundreds of people in Nairobi, some holding the flag of Somali Islamist terrorist group al Shabaab, protested his detention, and some Kenyans, angry at the protesters, hurled stones at the marchers.[72] The following day at least five people died in demonstrations after Friday prayers at Jamia Mosque.[73][74]

Jamaica

He was deported from Kenya on a private plane (at a cost in excess of $523,000), and on 22 January 2010 arrived back in Jamaica.[75] There, he was questioned by Special Branch investigators who made it clear that he had not broken any laws in Jamaica, but that the police wanted to make sure they knew where and how to find him "because of the international attention he has received."[76] The Islamic Council of Jamaica banned him from preaching at any of its 12 mosques, but said it will not prevent him from worshipping at them.[77]

In his book Ticking Time Bomb: Counter-Terrorism Lessons from the U.S. Government's Failure to Prevent the Fort Hood Attack (2011), former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman wrote that el-Faisal and Australian Muslim preacher Feiz Mohammad, American-Yemeni imam Anwar al-Awlaki, and Pakistani-American Samir Khan were examples of a "virtual spiritual sanctioner" who over the internet provides a level of religious justification for Islamist terrorist violence.[78]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • al-Ashanti, AbdulHaq and as-Salafi, Abu Ameenah AbdurRahman. (2011) Abdullah El-Faisal Al-Jamayki: A Critical Study of His Statements, Errors and Extremism in Takfeer. London: Jamiah Media, 2011 ISBN 978-0-9551099-9-7

External links[edit]