Tags: Jamaica | imam | kenya | depprt

Kenya Tries to Deport Radical Imam

Friday, 22 January 2010 11:37 AM

NAIROBI — Kenya on Thursday made a fresh attempt to deport radical Jamaican imam Abdulla al-Faisal on a private jet scheduled to fly him back to his country, officials said.

"I have been told by the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit officers that the subject is no longer within the court's jurisdiction, his destination is Jamaica," State Counsel Edwin Okello told a high court judge in Nairobi.

The cleric checked through immigration at Nairobi's international airport but it was not clear whether his jet had taken off, an immigration official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

However, government spokesman Alfred Mutua said the imam had left Kenya.

"Abdullah al-Faisal was deported earlier today and he is no longer in Kenya," Mutua said in a statement, denying reports by some Muslim rights officials that the cleric was still in the country.

Al-Faisal, who was jailed for four years in Britain for inciting racial hatred, was arrested in the port city of Mombasa on December 31 by Kenyan police, who had since twice tried and failed to deport him.

The 45-year-old firebrand cleric's arrest without charge sparked an outcry among Kenya's Muslim community and protests which left five dead following Friday prayers on January 15.

The unprecedented riots outside Nairobi's main mosque had led to a massive sweep in which police arrested 700 Somalis and drew renewed threats from Somalia's Al Qaeda-linked Shebab group.

Al-Faisal's immigration card, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, shows he was to leave Kenya from Nairobi's main international airport on a private flight "Gulfstream ZSJGC312".

The high court had been due to decide whether or not to keep Abdulla Al-Faisal -- who is on several international terror watchlists -- in detention.

Earlier Thursday, the police filed several security documents accusing the Jamaican cleric of engaging in preaching activities that violated the terms of his tourist visa, and of being a national security threat.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula had said earlier this week that the cleric would be out of the country by Thursday.

It was unclear where Al-Faisal's jet was scheduled to stop for re-fuelling.

He is persona non-grata in most Western countries and was denied transit in several African countries.

Kenya's two previous efforts to deport him earlier this month failed when neighbouring Tanzania and later a Nigerian airline refused to take him.

Al-Faisal's lawyer reacted with dismay at his client's deportation even as his fate was being discussed in court.

"We want to be furnished with documents to show which ATPU (Anti-Terrorism Police Unit) officers followed him, who is the pilot, which plane, and such other documents," Harun Ndubi told the judge.

News of the controversial cleric's exit from Kenya comes on the eve of a fresh demonstration in Mombasa which some Muslim groups planned to hold after Friday prayers despite a police ban.

"Despite unconfirmed reports that Jamaican cleric Abdulluah Faisal has been deported, we shall go on with our demonstration tomorrow", said Sheikh Abubakari Ahmed, a Muslims youth leader.

Amid simmering confessional tension in Kenya, members of Somalia's hardline Shebab group on Wednesday posted on a website a song in Swahili threatening attacks in Nairobi.

The Islamist armed movement has repeatedly threatened to retaliate for Kenya's support for the internationally-backed transitional federal government.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Friday, 22 January 2010 11:37 AM
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