NYPD sting leads to Muslim cleric indicted for recruiting terrorists

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A Muslim cleric was indicted on Friday under charges he recruited other radical jihadists to terrorist causes.

Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal was arrested in Jamaica, in the capital of Kingston, after police executed a search warrant on his house in the nearby parish of St. Catherine. El-Faisal had previously been deported to Jamaica after stirring up racial hatred in Britain, and is expected to be extradited to New York.

The radical cleric’s arrest is the culmination of a month-long sting operation, in which an NYPD official went undercover communicating with el-Faisal through text, email and video chat. El-Faisal reportedly offered to help the official travel to the Middle East and hook up with ISIS operatives.

U.S. officials have been worried about el-Faisal for some time, as he is a known instigator of religious violence.

He was born to Christian parents but converted to Islam as a teen and moved to Jamaica to study. He has delivered a multitude of sermons in the UK advocating war with Hindus and Jews and the use of chemical weapons to destroy non-believers.

“The way forward is the bullet,” he said in one recorded message.

In 2003 he was convicted in Britain on an obscure law for inciting murder. He was deported to Jamaica in 2007 after leaving jail.  The Islamic Council of Jamaica said they have banned his teachings in their mosques, and had no information regarding his arrest.

El-Faisal was subsequently banned from Kenya in 2009, after being accused of recruiting terrorists from Somalia. He was again deported to Jamaica in 2010. Wikileaks first released inter-state communications between western and Middle Eastern allies discussing el-Faisal’s linkage to several terror plots.

“El-Faisal has dedicated his life to terror recruitment” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

“Through his lectures, website and videos, he incites untold numbers of people around the world to take up the cause of jihad,” Vance said. “As is alleged in this case, he provided material support to the Islamic State by facilitating the passage of a self-described [Islamic State] sympathizer from New York to Syria. A charismatic leader, the defendant’s rhetoric has been cited by several convicted or suspected terrorists in New York, London and beyond.”

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