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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 February, 2003, 12:36 GMT
Cleric preached racist views
By Margaret Ryan
BBC News Online

Abdullah al-Faisal
Al-Faisal told the court his words were taken from the Koran

Muslim cleric Sheik Abdullah el-Faisal spent years travelling the UK preaching racial hatred urging his audience to kill Jews, Hindus and Westerners.

The 39-year-old imam called on impressionable teenage boys to learn how to use rifles, fly planes and use missiles to kill "all unbelievers".

In return for becoming martyrs, he promised them the reward of a place in paradise.

The full extent of his preaching of racial hatred emerged during his four-week trial at the Old Bailey.

Taped recordings of his lectures were sold at specialist Islamic bookshops.

And it was these tapes that formed the basis of the prosecution's case against the Jamaican-born convert, from Stratford, east London.

The cleric "robustly" defended himself against allegations that he fostered racial hatred and solicited the murder of non-believers, said BBC London's Kurt Barling.

Racial hatred

But Sheik el-Faisal was found guilty of three charges of soliciting the murder of Jews, Americans and Hindus.

And he was found guilty by a jury of six men and six women of two charges of using threatening words to stir up racial hatred.

Sheik al-Faisal
The way forward is the bullet
Sheik el-Faisal

In his tape Jihad the father-of-four told Muslim women to raise their children "with the jihad mentality" by giving them toy guns.

In the tape recorded after 11 September, he said: "The way forward is the bullet. Our motto is 'might is right'".

In another tape - Rules of Jihad - thought to have been recorded before 11 September, he said Jihad had been declared against India.

"You are only allowed to use nuclear weapons in that country which is 100% unbelievers," he said.

But throughout the trial he denied he had intended to incite people to violence.

Instead he argued his talks came from the Koran and if he was on trial so was the holy text.

He told the court he had held Osama Bin Laden in "great respect" but that he had "lost the path" since 11 September.

Each day he attended court dressed impeccably in flowing robes and carried the Koran.

He was accompanied by a religious advisor and given special dispensation to pray regularly.

And he listened attentively to the case brought against him.

Salvation Army

El-Faisal was born Trevor William Forest to a Salvation Army family of practising Christians.

But he converted to Islam at 16 and moved to Saudi Arabia where he is believed to have spent eight years.

He took a degree in Islamic Studies in the Saudi capital of Riyadh before coming to England.

Here he attended Brixton Mosque, in south London - the same mosque where shoebomber Richard Reid is thought to have met Zacharias Moussaoui, the alleged "20th hijacker" in the 11 September attacks.

Reid was jailed for life in January in the US for attempting to blow up a transatlantic jet with explosives in his shoes.

But el-Faisal said he had never met either man because they had attended two years after he had left.

Immigration investigations

The Muslim cleric went on to set up his own study circles in the mid-1990s in Tower Hamlets.

He had been stopped by customs at Heathrow in 2000 when lecture notes were seized.

But it was only after one of his tapes was found by police post-11 September that he was arrested.

He told the jury of his one conviction for carrying a knife in 1997.

He said he was not against Americans and had a "wonderful relationship" with British people, with a British wife and children.

But as he awaits his sentencing, immigration officials are said to be investigating his status.

Holy book 'no defence'
18 Feb 03 |  England
Cleric 'supported holy war'
22 Jan 03 |  England
Cleric preached 'race hate'
22 Jan 03 |  England

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