Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah Al-Faisal refused bail

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

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ATTORNEY K D Knight indicated Monday that he would be appealing Jamaican Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah Al-Faisal's bail refusal in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court.

The 53-year-old accused, christened Trevor William Forrest in Jamaica, was denied bail by Parish Judge Broderick Smith following a robust application by Knight.

The judge, who had delayed his decision from the morning session when the matter was first heard, said he was concerned about the strong connection the accused had with a group of radicals and that the accused might be a flight risk.

Knight, during his bail application, denied that his client was involved in any act of terrorism.

The attorney argued that his client was only involved in religious advocation, which was not a crime, and that in Jamaica he had a right to express his religious beliefs.

“Being a Muslim is not an offence, it is a right, and being a Muslim should not be telegraphed that the practitioner is a terrorist; that assumption is not allowed in our jurisdiction,” he said. Knight further argued that his client had an established place of residence and was not a flight risk. However, he told the judge that in the event that he had concerns about his client absconding bail, he could impose the necessary conditions.

Additionally, Knight said the court did not have enough evidence to deny his client bail as the United States had not provided enough evidence to ground the allegations against his client.

Prosecutor Jeremy Taylor, during his submission, told the court that allegations against Al-Faisal indicated that the accused had an established online presence and was not only a strong supporter of the Islamic faith, but that he acted as a marriage broker for females who wanted to migrate and marry Islamic State (IS) members, and also had connections with people interested in joining the terrorist network.

The prosecutor also stated that based on the allegations, the accused had multiple conversations with an overseas undercover female officer on different social media platforms, to whom he allegedly provided names and contact to help her join the IS network after she told him she had medical skills and wanted to help the brothers.

Consequently, Taylor told the judge that the prosecution was of the view that the available conditions would not be enough to prevent Al Faisal from continuing his mission via the Internet

The judge in his response also noted that there was no condition that could be imposed to prevent the accused from continuing with his actions relating to the IS network.

Knight, in response, argued that the State could disable his client's social media accounts. At the same time, he argued that keeping his client in custody would not guarantee anything as devices in prison which his client could access.

The judge however maintained his stand that he was of the view that accused was a flight risk and if granted bail, based on his strong connections, would be able to continue his alleged dealings.

Al Faisal was arrested on August 25 on an extradition warrant in Kingston after he was indicted on charges of recruiting would-be terrorists.

The accused is to return to court on October 27.

— Tanesha Mundle

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