Appeal Court clears way for extradition of Muslim cleric el-Faisal

Appeal Court clears way for extradition of Muslim cleric el-Faisal

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, July 30, 2020

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CONTROVERSIAL Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal is to be extradited to the United States to face terrorism-related charges in a matter of days.

Government sources yesterday told the Jamaica Observer that Justice Minister Delroy Chuck is to sign the “extradition warrant” after el-Faisal exhausted his legal battle to avoid extradition on Monday.

The legal process came to an end in the Court of Appeal after the court struck dismissed a move by lawyers representing el-Faisal on the basis that they had failed to comply with the mandatory requirements of the court in the specified time, and that there was no arguable grounds of appeal.

“Extradition proceedings stop at the Court of Appeal so this completes the legal process and puts the matter back into the hands of the political directorate,” noted an Jamaica Observer legal source.

Following a request from American authorities, el-Faisal was arrested locally in 2018 and taken before the courts where Parish Court Judge Broderick Smith signed an extradition warrant ordering that he be handed over to US authorities.

Lawyers representing the Muslim cleric took the matter to the Supreme Court and filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus to have him released.

His lawyers argued that el-Faisal constitutional right to due process and to a fair hearing had been breached primarily because the original source material from which the evidence was derived had not been disclosed. They also claimed that the extradition order was in contravention of Jamaica's Constitution.

But the Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the parish court and declared that a writ of habeas corpus would not be ordered for el-Faisal's discharge from custody.

The lawyers gave notice of appeal and weeks after the Supreme Court's ruling initiated the appeal. But the Registrar of the Appeal Court indicated to the lawyers that they had failed to comply with some mandatory rules. They lawyers reportedly agreed to comply but almost one year later this was not done.

Last month the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) asked the court to dismiss the appeal and filed an affidavit supporting its position.

According to the Observer sources, lawyers representing el-Faisal also filed an affidavit accepting the position of the DPP's Office and admitting that the cleric had no viable grounds of appeal.

On Monday, the court accepted the DPP's position and threw out the appeal.

Christened Trevor William Forrest, el-Faisal was arrested on August 25, 2017 on an extradition warrant from the United States of America in relation to charges of conspiracy as a crime of terrorism, two counts of soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism, and two counts of attempted soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism.

He was taken into custody after a month-long operation carried out by an undercover New York Police Department officer, who allegedly communicated with him via e-mail, text and video chat.

According to local prosecutors, the allegations against el-Faisal indicated that he had an established online presence and was not only a strong supporter of the Islamic faith, but that he acted as a marriage broker for females who wanted to migrate and marry Islamic State members, and also had connections with people interested in joining the terrorist network.

The prosecutor also stated that, based on the allegations, the accused had multiple conversations with an overseas undercover female officer on different social media platforms, to whom he allegedly provided names and contacts to help her join the IS network after she told him she had medical skills

el-Faisal converted to Islam at age 16 and moved to Britain in the 1980s.

He was deported from Britain in 2007 after serving a jail term for inciting racial hatred and allegedly urging his followers to murder Jews, Hindus, Christians, and Americans.

El-Faisal was deported to Jamaica from Kenya in January 2010 after being arrested on New Year's Day for preaching at a mosque in Nairobi, breaching stipulations of his work permit.


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