Ex-Manchester United steward accused of imam's murder denies supporting IS
A former Manchester United steward accused of murdering an imam has told a jury he is not an IS supporter.
Mohammed Hussain Syeedy, 21, is said to have played a key role in helping another man to bludgeon to death Jalal Uddin, 71, because they considered he was practising black magic.
The pair allegedly developed a hatred of Mr Uddin because he used a form of healing involving amulets, known as taweez, which are said to bring good fortune.
Manchester Crown Court has heard that IS disapprove of the practice and believe those who regularly engage in it should be killed.
Giving evidence, Syeedy, who had worked part-time at Old Trafford, said he did not hold any political views and was not a follower of IS.
He said: "I certainly do not sympathise with Isis. I do not support any of their ideologies or their ways and their actions.
"I think what they are doing is absolutely wrong, I don't agree with innocent people dying.
"I don't agree with what Isis are doing all around the world. "
The Rochdale-born engineering student explained he was involved in various charities to help needy people worldwide and had travelled to Syria as part of a convoy to deliver ambulances and medical aid.
He said he was also a member of a number of local youth groups and had delivered food parcels to deprived refugees in the area.
The Crown said Syeedy intentionally assisted and encouraged Mohammed Kadir, 24, to attack Mr Uddin in a children's play area in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, on the evening of February 18.
Mr Uddin suffered multiple injuries to his head and face in the attack, thought to have involved a hammer, in South Street, after he visited the nearby Jalalia Mosque for evening prayers and a friend's house for a meal.
Kadir, of Chamber Road, Oldham, boarded a flight three days later from Manchester to Copenhagen in Denmark followed by a connecting flight to Istanbul.
His whereabouts are unknown although it is thought he could have travelled to Syria, the jury has previously been told.
Syeedy agreed with his barrister, Icah Peart QC, that on the evidence it appeared Kadir was responsible for the murder.
He told the jury that he did not consider him a friend but "just a guy I worked with".
He learned that Kadir had some "wacky ideologies" and colleagues at the Rochdale takeway where they worked would "take the mick".
Syeedy said: "They were saying that he supports Isis and he had weird images and videos on his Facebook page.
"He would never share his views. He would never openly say anything."
He explained he was driving the pair around Rochdale on the night of the murder after he arranged to meet up with Kadir to find out why he was not regularly attending a study circle that Syeedy had help set up.
Syeedy said: "It looked like he got his views from the internet so I thought that if he could come to the class he would get more of an idea what Islam is about. He would get a better picture of Islam, not just how Isis portray Islam."
Syeedy, of Ramsay Street, Rochdale, denies murder.
In August 2015, Syeedy said he became aware that Mr Uddin was practising Ruqya healing in which taweez were given to members of the community.
He said he did not agree with its use but would not take the law into his own hands to stop someone practising.
Syeedy said: "It is up to God to punish the person and if they are doing right it is up to God to reward them."
He said his younger brother had found a book of taweez while cleaning at the Jalalia Mosque and it had been passed to his friend, who later ripped it up and then threw it in a river because it was considered potentially dangerous.
He said the book, which had Mr Uddin's name on the front, contained images which he thought were "inappropriate" and not in accordance with the teachings of Islam.
Among the images were private parts with attached eyes, hands and legs, he said.
He said he agreed with a plan hatched among his friends to try to deport Mr Uddin, who was an illegal overstayer in the UK.
One of his friends rang the Immigration Service to report him but was told they needed a photograph and address of the person, which they did not have, he said.
Syeedy said he was told to "keep an eye" on Mr Uddin to see where he lived.
A further idea was to hold a seminar to inform the community about what Mr Uddin was practising, said the defendant.
He said: "We wanted to make the community aware. That was my main focus.
"I was kind of looking forward to organising a seminar so at least people are aware and know what was happening with this taweez, and they can make their own judgment as to whether they wanted to use it or not."
Asked if he felt the need to resort to physical violence against Mr Uddin, he told his barrister: "I would never use aggression or violence. I have never spoken to any member of the public in a bad manner, never mind violence."