Jamaican Muslim cleric back in Kenya prison

16:54, January 11, 2010      

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The radical Jamaican cleric who was deported to Gambia last week has been returned after the airlines in Nigeria refused to fly him to the west African nation.

The deportee's lawyer Mbugua Mureithi told a news conference in Nairobi on Sunday night that they had located Abdullah Al-Faisal in a prison facility in Nairobi.

Mureithi who was accompanied by Muslim Human Rights Forum Executive Director Al Amin Kimathi said Kenya's efforts have been thwarted by the refusal of several countries to allow Faisal to pass through their borders or travel on their airlines.

"We have been able to locate him, he is being held at the Industrial Area GK Prison and we don't understand why he is there because he has never been charged in court," Kimathi told journalists.

It was the second time the east African nation had tried unsuccessfully to deport the cleric who was arrested a week ago in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa.

The Kenyan authorities said Faisal's history of radical statements and connections with convicted terrorists made him a threat to Kenya's security.

Kimathi and Mureithi telephoned Al-Faisal's mobile phone and put him on loudspeaker during the press conference where he was heard saying: "I was deported to Gambia but when I reached Nigeria, an airline there declined to fly me to Gambia. I was then returned to Nairobi and now I am here."

"I am a public figure, the Gambian government does not have a problem accepting me. I was given a choice to make and chose there, but the airline that was to fly me from Nigeria declined to take me on board."

"Now I am in prison, I do not know how I got here and I would like the Muslim community out there to help me because I am a public figure," Al-Faisa added.

The preacher was deported from Nairobi on Thursday following orders by Kenyan Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang.

Al-Faisal was convicted in Britain on terrorism-related charges in 2003 and deported on release in 2007. On arrival in Jamaica, the Islamic Council of Jamaica banned him from preaching in its mosques.

The Kenyan authorities held Al-Faisal at the country's main airport for the better part of last week as they plotted his next destination.

Kenya had flown him to Lagos, Nigeria. From there, he was scheduled to fly to Gambia and then to Jamaica. But airlines in Nigeria refused to fly him to Gambia.

The Kenyan authorities reportedly drove him to the border of Tanzania last Tuesday because he had entered Kenya from there, but Tanzania refused him entry.

On Thursday, Gambia offered to help get him to Jamaica, but now it is unclear how he can travel to Gambia.

Mureithi said he planned to go to court on Monday morning to compel the government to release Al-Faisal.

He said they were concerned "because he has expressed concerns at his health which is now deteriorating and you see he is being held without having committed any crime. He wants to be released to the Muslim community."

Source: Xinhua
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