By: Serach Nissim
Opening statements were underway on Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court in the trial of a radical Islamic cleric accused of allegedly encouraging a female undercover NYPD cop to carry out terror attacks.
As reported by the NY Post, prosecutors started off the case by describing Shaikh Abdullah Faisal, an Islamic State recruiter and a matchmaker, as having allegedly committed “far reaching crimes of terrorism.” The 59-year-old was described by prosecutors as “one of the most influential English speaking terrorist of our times”. The case revolves around Faisal’s alleged communications with undercover NYPD officer in a bid to encourage her to join ISIS and carry out attacks overseas from 2015 to 2017. Evidence in the case includes e-mails, texts and video chat made with the would-be jihadist.
“This defendant, with his extremist roots, formed an integral relationship with ISIS. He worked and aided ISIS and his mission to inflict terror,” Assistant District Attorney Gary Galperin told the jurors. “You will conclude that the defendant not only talked the talk but also walked the walk that he paved with concrete crimes of terrorism.”
Prosecutors are painting a picture of an extremist and militant cleric who has made various online posts supporting Osama Bin Laden’s speeches. “By Allah’s permission we will be taking a look at a speech that was delivered by Osama Bin Laden…. everything he said is of extreme importance — every word is like a gem,” Faisal had published on his website. In previous speeches given by Faisal and posted online, prosecutors say the defendant allegedly encouraged followers to wage jihad against enemies of Islam and kill Americans, Christians, Jews and Hindis. “The way forward is not the ballot. The way forward is the bullet,” he allegedly said in one speech. “You should cut the throats of the kafirs with machetes,” he told followers, using a term for nonbelievers.
As per the Post, Faisal, born in Jamaica as Trevor William Forrest, has already served four years in prison following his 2003 conviction for inciting racial hatred in Britain, being released in 2007. He was notably the first Muslim cleric to be tried in the United Kingdom. In 2017, he was arrested again in his native Jamaica and extradited to New York. He is currently accused of trying to convince an undercover cop to travel to the Middle East and join ISIS. He is being charged on five counts — including conspiracy as a crime of terrorism and soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism. He has pleaded not guilty. The trial is expected to last till mid-January. Should the court find him to be guilty, the potential sentences range from seven to 25 years in prison.
Faisal’s defense attorney, Alex Grosshtern, argued in his opening statements that there was no evidence his client actually committed an act of terrorism. “The evidence will not show him planning an actual act of terrorism against the United States,”Grosshtern told jurors. He urged jurors not to judge based on his words, adding also that the evidence won’t prove that “there was a recruitment of a female to go to Syria and assist ISIS in engaging in any specific act of terrorism.”