A jury in London has found an extremist Muslim cleric guilty of soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred. The cleric, Abdullah el-Faisal [F-EYE-suhl], is now in jail awaiting sentencing on March 7th. The crime of soliciting murder carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
For several years, Abdullah el-Faisal traveled around Britain, giving sermons in which he urged people to kill Christians, Jews, Hindus, and other non-Muslims as well as Americans. He is an outspoken admirer of Osama bin Laden, whose al-Qaida terrorist group was responsible for the September 11th, 2001, attacks on the United States. And like bin Laden, el-Faisal urged people to kill all those whom he considered “unbelievers.”
Many of el-Faisal’s sermons, in English and Arabic, were taped for sale in stores. The tapes had such titles as “No Peace with the Jews,” “Them versus Us,” and “Jihad.”
As British police pointed out at el-Faisal’s trial, many of his activities were aimed at young people. Police said he tried to recruit British schoolboys to go away to terrorist training camps. As police official Peter Clarke said, “We simply do not know how many young, impressionable people may have gone abroad and never returned. This case,” said Mr. Clarke, has “nothing to do with freedom of speech but everything to do with racial hatred and religious bigotry -- and encouraging people to commit acts of terrorism.”
The conviction of Abdullah el-Faisal by a British jury is another victory in the war against terrorism that began on September 11th, 2001. As President George W. Bush pointed out at that time, “the stakes could not be higher. We are the target of enemies who boast that they want to kill. . .all Americans, kill all Jews, and kill all Christians.”
These enemies hide behind Islam, a peaceful faith. But, said Mr. Bush, “those who celebrate the murder of innocent men, women, and children have no religion. . .no conscience, and. . .no mercy. We wage a war to save civilization itself,” said President Bush. “We did not seek it, but we must fight it -- and we will prevail.”