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Al-Faisal welcome to attend mosque — Islamic Council

BY KARYL WALKER Crime/court co-ordinator walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 31, 2010    

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DESPITE its preaching ban on controversial Muslim cleric, Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal, the Islamic Council of Jamaica says it will not prevent him from worshipping at any of the island's 12 mosques.

"We cannot deny him, as a Muslim, access to the place of worship. If he comes here this very minute, I will certainly greet him as a Muslim," president of the council, Mustafa Muhammad, told the Sunday Observer.

Al-Faisal was recently deported back to Jamaica from Kenya on the chartered Gulfstream jet, flight ZSJGC312 at a cost of US$500,000 after he allegedly violated the conditions of his visitor's visa and preached in a mosque.

He was also accused in Africa of recruiting suicide bombers to target the upcoming World Cup football tournament, which will be hosted by South Africa later this year, for terrorist attacks and urging Kenyan youths to support the al-Qaida-linked radical group, Al Shabbab, which is based in the war-torn country of Somalia.

Members of Al Shabbab are accused of joining in a demonstration in solidarity with the cleric in Kenya, which turned violent and ended with two deaths, injury to six Kenyan police officers and the arrest of about 400 people. Seven Muslims were charged by the Kenyan Government for their role in the demonstrations.

Al-Faisal has been accused, too, of hate preaching in Britain where he was imprisoned for calling for the murder of Americans, Hindus and Jews. The radical cleric served four years before being deported to Jamaica in 2007.

According to Muhammad, al-Faisal's style of radicalism is not true of Islamic teaching.

"Extremism is not a part of Islam. It now becomes an individual or personal affair. If you preach anything that is not consistent with the concept of Islam, then it is not acceptable," he said.

Muhammad was also highly critical of the Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight over Detroit, USA last Christmas.

Abdulmutallab tried to light explosives in his underwear, to ignite a fire on the plane. The fire was extinguished as passengers brought the terrorist under restraint. The terrorist has admitted links to al-Qaida.

"For a young person who obviously had education to sit down and allow someone to him that this was the right thing to do. What did those people on the plane do to him? The prophet Mohammed said the best things are done in moderation," Muhammad said.

He urged Muslim leaders to be cautious when making statements that could be taken to mean an incitement to violence.

"As leaders we have to be very careful of the things that you say. The mere fact that you have influence over others we must be conscious of the things we do," he said.

Despite being on the International Terror Watch List, al-Faisal spent about two years in various African countries and from the moment he attempted to leave Jamaican shores local law enforcement had knowledge that he had left the island.

Head of Operations in the Constabulary, acting Deputy Commissioner, Glenmore Hinds, told the Sunday Observer last week that police had informed their overseas counterparts that al-Faisal had contacted a travel agency and purchased an airline ticket.

Hinds, however, was not willing to say what route the cleric took to reach the African continent, as he is not allowed in transit stops in the United States or Europe.

"The threat of terrorism is global. We are a signatory to the convention so when he was leaving we worked with our international partners and we have been doing that ever since he became known," Hinds said.

Al-Faisal was questioned when he returned to the island just over a week ago.

Under the Jamaican Terrorism Prevention Bill, anyone who acts or refrains to stop the commission of a murder or multiple murders or an act which endangers the lives of others, causes serious risk to the health or safety of the public, causes substantial property damage, causes serious interference with essential services or systems can be slapped with a life sentence.

Jamaican police have maintained, however, that while the cleric will have to be constantly monitored, he has never incited murder or preached race hate messages on the island.

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