By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Aug. 30, 2017: Two days after radical Jamaican Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal was arrested in Jamaica after New York state prosecutors charged him with seeking to recruit people to join Islamic State, a group seeking to defend the cleric has launched on Facebook, News Americas has found.
The public group founded by one Walid Al Hanbali is titled simple ‘Committee for the Defense of Sheikh Abdullah el Faisal on Facebook.’ So far it has only six members, including Al Hanbali.
It is unclear how Al Hanbali is related to the cleric. No details have been listed for him except that he is married to a Khadijah Mathews who lives in Portland, Oregon.
Al Hanbali, however, states that the group’s aim is to “support our detained Sheikh Abdullah el Faisal and oppose the crusader arrogance of the US imperialists.”
He slammed US authorities for the arrest in a post, stating: “Once again, the United States shows its double standards and hatred for Islam. Who are they to demand the trial of a person who doesn’t even live in their country nor is a citizen of it? Would they allow foreign governments such as Iran, North Korea, China or Venezuela to extradite American-born citizens for speaking out against such regimes? Yet, the US imperialists seem to think they are above the world.”
Al Hanbali also concluded by declaring: “We must declare our solidarity with Sheikh Faisal, denouncing the continued ideological assault against Islam, and call on Muslims to aid the Sheikh as they are able.”
US authorities are seeking to extradite el-Faisal, 53, to face charges in Manhattan Supreme Court of soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism.
El-Faisal, born Trevor William Forrest in St. James, Jamaica, was previously convicted in the United Kingdom in 2003 of soliciting murder and imprisoned. He was deported to Jamaica in 2007 after being released.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said Friday that el-Faisal used lectures, a website and videos to incite followers to join Islamic State, which is designated a terrorist organization by U.S. authorities.
Friday’s indictment follows a year-long investigation by the New York Police Department’s intelligence bureau and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office’s counter-terrorism program, according to the DA’s office.
Prosecutors said that beginning in December 2016, el-Faisal began communicating remotely from Jamaica with an undercover NYPD officer. He urged the officer to view Islamic State propaganda materials online, and offered to help him travel to the Middle East to fight for the organization, prosecutors said.
NYPD members ultimately did travel to the Middle East, and once they arrived, el-Faisal put them in touch with a contact in Raqqa, Syria, according to prosecutors.