Radical Muslim cleric whose arrest sparked deadly protest in Africa arrives in Jamaica

By Howard Campbell, AP
Saturday, January 23, 2010

Radical Muslim cleric returns to native Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica — A radical Muslim cleric who served time in a British jail for inciting murder and stirring racial hatred has returned by private jet to his native Jamaica after several unsuccessful attempts to deport him from Kenya.

Abdullah el-Faisal arrived in Kingston Friday night on a jet paid for by the Kenyan government, traveling from Burkina Faso to Antigua via Cape Verde, authorities said.

Ken Baugh, Jamaica’s foreign affairs minister, said Saturday he had no information about the cost of the flight or other details.

El-Faisal spoke briefly to reporters before he left in a minivan with two members of the local Muslim community.

“I’m traveling for two days and you want me to give you an interview?” he was quoted as saying in Saturday’s edition of the Jamaica Observer newspaper. “It was a very good flight. It was a private jet. I am very happy to be back home.”

It is unclear where el-Faisal will live in Jamaica. He previously lived in Spanish Town, just outside Kingston.

Deputy police chief Glenmore Hinds said police will maintain surveillance on him but did not provide specifics.

“We’ll be doing everything to ensure the safety of Jamaicans will not be compromised,” he said.

El-Faisal once led a London mosque attended by convicted terrorists, and Britain has said that his teachings heavily influenced one of the bombers in the 2005 transport network attacks in London that killed 52 people.

In 2007, Britain deported him to Jamaica after he spent four years in jail for urging the killing of Americans, Hindus, Jews and Christians.

In 2009, el-Faisal toured several African countries until he was arrested last month in Kenya. Muslim youth demanding his release staged a deadly protest Jan. 15 at a downtown Nairobi mosque resulting in the arrest of 400 people. The Muslim Human Rights Forum said at least five people were killed when police shot at demonstrators, while the government says only one person died.

Attempts to deport el-Faisal failed earlier this month when he was denied a transit visa when he arrived in Nigeria en route to Gambia, which had agreed to host him. He was then flown back to Kenya.

Britain, South Africa, Tanzania and the U.S. earlier denied el-Faisal the transit visas he needed to return to Jamaica.

It was unclear Saturday what country may have issued el-Faisal a transit visa.

Government officials in Burkina Faso did not return calls for comment. Authorities in Antigua said no one aboard a private plane is required to present paperwork if passengers do not disembark.

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