Renowned Muslim preacher Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal was arrested on Friday August 25th, 2017 in Kingston by officials of the Jamaican Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime (C-TOC) branch of the Island’s police force following an extradition warrant from the United States. In papers filed at the St. Andrew Parish Court in the capital Kingston, the US is seeking the Sheikh’s extradition based on his alleged role in recruiting people to join the Islamic State (ISIS). The US authorities also allege that Faisal supports terrorists groups worldwide.
Sheikh Faisal who has a large mass of global audience spent the weekend in jail as he was remanded into custody until his next hearing scheduled for September 11, 2017 when his bail application will be heard by the court. As it is right now, it looks likely that Faisal will spend the upcoming Muslim Eid holidays scheduled to begin on September 1st in jail.
This is not the first time that Sheikh Faisal had trouble with the law. To his supporters around the world, he is a victim of a system that wants to silence the truth. The Sheikh’s supporters maintain that his constant run-in with the law is as a result of his relentless preaching of the truth in his audio and video lectures now available online. To his critics and people in power, he is seen as firebrand Sheikh that radicalizes many Muslim youths.
Sheik Faisal was in 2007 deported back to Jamaica from the UK after serving four years of a nine year prison term for ‘hateful’ preaching. His travels to Africa in the following years first to Botswana then to Kenya in 2009-2010 were all cut short after his deportation from those countries as a result of alleged pressure from the United States.
The litany of accusations against the Sheikh is long. He is accused of radicalizing 2001 shoe bomber Richard Reid, 911 plotter Zacarias Mossaoui as well as some of the London 7/7 bombers in 2007. Criticism of the Sheikh is not only restricted to western governments allegedly wanting to silence him. Some Muslims regard the Sheikh as being too extreme and being part of the takfiris- a small group of Muslims who refer to other Muslims disagreeing with their hard line stance as kufars (disbelievers).
As the story of Sheikh Faisal’s jailing is just breaking, we will keep monitoring opinion on his case in the Muslim world.
Written by Mamudou Jallow