- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 7, 2010

NAIROBI, Kenya | The Kenyan government has tried and failed to deport a Jamaican Muslim cleric who is on an international terrorist watch list and served four years in a British prison for inciting racial hatred, police said Wednesday.

The Kenyan police had tried to deport Sheik Abdullah el-Faisal, 45, to neighboring Tanzania, but Dar es Salaam rejected the move, and the imam — who has called for Americans to be killed — was sent back to Nairobi.

“He was escorted back to Nairobi and is currently at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Tanzania has declined to receive him, and we are pondering the next move,” a police official told Agence France-Presse on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity.

Kenya is having a hard time expelling the Jamaican-born el-Faisal because only his Caribbean home country will accept him, and the countries he would have to fly though to get to Jamaica refuse even to let him pass through.

Britain has said that el-Faisal’s teachings heavily influenced one of the bombers who carried out the 2005 transportation-network bombings in London that killed 52 people. el-Faisal — who has called for Americans, Hindus and Jews to be killed — traveled from Nigeria and through Angola, Malawi, Swaziland, Mozambique and Tanzania by road before coming to Kenya.

A Kenyan official who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on the issue said it is likely el-Faisal was trying to avoid detection because he is on a watch list of terrorism suspects.

South Africa and Britain have declined to grant him transit visas, the official said. The visas would allow el-Faisal to connect to flights to Jamaica, which has said it would accept him, but would keep a close eye on him. Tanzania also declined to grant him a visa — despite the fact he entered Kenya from Tanzania.

Internet postings purportedly written by the Nigerian man now charged with trying to bomb a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day referred to el-Faisal as a cleric to whom he had listened.

The posting was made in March 2005 under the name “farouk1986.” The suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was born that year. Officials haven’t verified that the postings were written by Mr. Abdulmutallab, but details from the posts match his personal history.

El-Faisal preached at London’s Brixton mosque in the 1990s before being ejected by mosque authorities because of his support for violent jihad. The mosque was attended at different times by Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe bomber,” who is serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison after a failed 2001 attempt to blow up an airplane, and by convicted Sept. 11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui.

He later toured widely in Britain preaching and selling audiotapes of his sermons. The British government has said he was a key influence on July 7 bomber Jermaine Lindsay.

El-Faisal was arrested in Kenya on New Year’s Eve by anti-terrorism police as he was leaving a mosque in the coastal town of Mombasa.

Al-Amin Kimathi, an official of the Muslim human rights forum, said that police Mr. el-Faisal at the time of his arrest that he had violated his visa terms by preaching in mosques.

In order for el-Faisal to fly to Jamaica, he would need a transit visa to allow him to connect to flights in the U.S., Europe or Canada, said Kennedy Buhere, a spokesman for the Ministry of Immigration.

Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang said he had signed el-Faisal’s deportation papers on Saturday. Mr. Kajwang told Associated Press he was deporting el-Faisal because he has a history of being involved in terrorist activities.

Mr. Kajwang said when el-Faisal arrived in the country on Dec. 24, he was not stopped at immigration offices based in Lunga-Lunga, a Kenyan border point with Tanzania. Immigration officials were not able to do a background check because their computers were not connected to a database. He said the database was shut down to install new software.

“He must have known that our machines were down,” Mr. Kajwang said.

Mr. Kimathi said that el-Faisal had come into the country on the invitation of Muslim youths who wanted him to give lectures. Kenya has a minority-Muslim population, mostly on the country’s Indian Ocean coast.

From combined dispatches

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