London/Dhaka, Sep 17 (IANS) A British Muslim was found guilty of an Islamic State-inspired murder of a Bangladeshi imam who practised a form of faith healing condemned by the jihadist group.
On Friday, a jury at Manchester Crown Court sentenced 21-year-old Mohammed Syeedy, a former steward at Manchester United’s soccer stadium, to life in prison with no chance of parole for 24 years, reported The New York Times.
In February, Syeedy and his accomplice Mohammed Abdul Kadir, 21, bludgeoned 71-year-old Bangladeshi imam Jalal Uddin to death as he was on his way from a mosque in Rochdale, northern England.
Syeedy and Kadir developed hatred for the imam after discovering that he performed something called ‘Ruqya’– a form of healing that uses amulets or ‘Taweez’– to ward off ill health and evil spirits.
Both the attackers followed the Salafist strand of Islamic State and considered this to be ‘black magic’ which is punishable by death, bdnews24 reported.
Judge David Madison said Syeedy, who served as the getaway driver, played an “absolutely integral” part in the murder and described the killing as a “carefully planned”, “premeditated” attack on a vulnerable victim.
Syeedy’s accomplice Kadir, a former John Lewis call centre worker, was not on trial because he fled to Istanbul three days after the murder. Counter-terrorism detectives believe he may have crossed the border into Syria to join Isis, The Guardian stated.
Jalal Uddin had moved to Rochdale 15 years ago from Bangladesh.
Six months before the murder, Syeedy and his friends destroyed his notes and books on taweez after stealing them from their mosque. They then started monitoring Jalal Uddin’s whereabouts, taking covert pictures of him in the street, as they plotted to have the community leader deported by immigration services.
Syeedy, a college drop-out, denied being an Isis supporter and described the group’s actions as “completely wrong”.
He told jurors he did not agree with Jalal Uddin’s use of taweez because it was dangerous to meddle with the supernatural world, but that it was up to God to deliver the punishment.
“This is my country, I abide by the laws,” The Guardian cited his statement to the jury.