Jamaica will monitor extremist Muslim cleric
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A Jamaican-born Muslim cleric once jailed in Britain for urging the killing of Americans, Hindus and Jews will be a security concern for his Caribbean homeland when he is deported from Kenya, an official said Monday.
Glenmore Hinds, Jamaica’s assistant police chief, said Sheik Abdullah el-Faisal has committed no crime in Jamaica, but will be scrutinized because of his documented history of calling for violence in other nations.
“There isn’t a radical Muslim community in Jamaica, but certainly this gentleman has been known to preach radicalization in other countries, so he will be a concern while he is here,” Hinds said from Kingston in a phone interview.
Earlier Monday, Kenya’s immigration minister, Otieno Kajwang, said the East African nation would soon expel el-Faisal to Jamaica for preaching in mosques in violation of his tourist visa. The content of his sermons was not immediately known.
Kajwang said el-Faisal entered Kenya from Tanzania on Dec. 24, but officials did not know at the time that he was on an international watch list because of computer errors.
In 2003, the cleric was sentenced to nine years in Britain after being convicted of incitement to murder and stirring racial hatred by urging followers to kill Americans, Hindus and Jews. Upon his parole in 2007, he was deported to Jamaica.
He apparently remained on the island for less than a year. Hinds said law enforcement officials were aware el-Faisal left Jamaica for Africa more than a year ago and he was known to have traveled in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.
Gilbert Scott, former permanent secretary of Jamaica’s Security Ministry, said agents monitored el-Faisal during his time on the Caribbean island.
“Our security apparatus remained quite alert to his activities to make sure he was not creating any breaches,” said Scott, who left the ministry in November 2008. He said he didn’t recall anything that caused “security agents to be overly concerned with him.”
Scott said el-Faisal had been “somewhat active” in Jamaica’s small Muslim community — roughly 5,000 adherents among the tropical island’s population of 2.8 million.
Mustafa Muhammad, president of the Islamic Council of Jamaica, did not return calls Monday seeking comment.
Angel Rabasa, a senior policy analyst at the U.S.-based Rand Corp. think tank, described el-Faisal as having been an “influential extremist teacher” in Britain.
“He definitely preached violence,” and Jamaican officials will “want to pay close attention,” said Rabasa, who has researched radicalization in Europe.
The British government says el-Faisal’s teachings were a strong influence on one of the four suicide bombers who killed 52 commuters in the 2005 attack on London’s transportation system.