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Muslim leader 'murdered by IS supporters for practising Islamic healing'

Published 23/08/2016

Jalal Uddin was beaten to death in a children's playground in Rochdale (Greater Manchester Police/PA)
Jalal Uddin was beaten to death in a children's playground in Rochdale (Greater Manchester Police/PA)

Two IS supporters murdered an imam because they viewed his practice of Islamic healing as "black magic", a jury has heard.

Jalal Uddin, 71, suffered multiple injuries to his head and face in an attack, thought to have involved a hammer, in a children's play area in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, on the evening of February 18 this year.

The Crown say the Bangladeshi national was targeted after he left the mosque where he usually prayed, ate a meal at a friend's house and then walked home.

Mohammed Hussain Syeedy, 22, and Mohammed Abdul Kadir, 24, were said to have developed "a hatred" of Mr Uddin when they discovered last year that he practised Ruqya healing - which involves the use of amulets.

It is alleged the pair went on to mount surveillance of Mr Uddin, described as "quiet, dignified and well-respected", before events reached a deadly climax.

Opening the case at Manchester Crown Court, prosecutor Paul Greaney QC said: "Who hated a decent man like Jalal Uddin with such virulence? The answer to that important question is to be found in the twisted ideology of Isis, sometimes known as Islamic State.

"Jalal Uddin was a practitioner of a form of Islamic healing called Ruqya.

"Isis regards this practice as black magic and adheres to the view that those who engage in it deserve severe punishment, even death.

"Mohammed Hussain Syeedy, the defendant, and an associate of his named Mohammed Abdul Kadir were supporters of Isis and so they subscribed to the view that those who practised Ruqya deserved such punishment."

Mr Greaney said Syeedy will claim he does not support Isis or violent extremism of any kind.

He told jurors: "Your task will be to determine whether that defence may be true. Our submission is that once you have heard all of the evidence, you will be sure that it is not true."

He said it was the Crown's case that Syeedy drove Kadir to the gates of the park, knowing full well that Kadir intended to attack Mr Uddin so as to kill him or at least cause him really serious harm.

He said the pair had "stalked" Mr Uddin around the streets of Rochdale on February 18 before Kadir left Syeedy's car and ran towards Mr Uddin as he entered the park on the final leg of his journey home.

Kadir was said to have landed "repeated forceful blows", including to his mouth and teeth, which left the victim with a depressed skull fracture. He then dashed to the exit on the other side of the park where he was picked up by Syeedy and spirited away, the court heard.

Two young girls discovered the unconscious Mr Uddin at about 8.45pm and the alarm was raised. He was rushed to hospital where he died a short time later - as a result of a killing "of hatred and intolerance", said Mr Greaney.

Syeedy, of Ramsay Street, Rochdale, denies the murder of Mr Uddin with another (Kadir).

Kadir fled abroad in the days that followed the murder, the jury was told.

Kadir, of Chamber Road, Oldham, boarded a flight from Manchester to Copenhagen in Denmark three days after the killing, followed by a connecting flight to Istanbul, Turkey.

Mr Greaney said: "Attempts by investigators to trace Kadir have proved unsuccessful, something that is hardly surprising given that Istanbul has often been used as a staging post to Syria, although where Kadir in fact ended up is not known."

On February 23, police searched the home address of Syeedy, where he lived with his family, and seized an iPhone from a coffee table in the lounge

A large volume of IS-related material was discovered on the device, including many photographs of Syeedy and his friends - including Kadir - raising IS one-finger salutes, the prosecutor said.

Photographs of flags associated with jihad draped over road signs were also found, and an image of someone holding up a flag for "Rochdale 2 Syria" - an aid convoy in which the defendant was involved.

The jury was also shown video footage of one such convoy to Syria, which was interspersed with images of Syeedy and others said to be giving the IS salute, and a man planting an IS flag, apparently in the UK.

A further search the next day uncovered a memory card which included an image of Syeedy and another man holding a jihadist flag outside the Jalalia Mosque in Trafalgar Street. It is thought the photograph was taken in October 2014.

Another photograph showed Syeedy wearing a stab-proof vest outside the same mosque.

A WhatsApp image of Syeedy and two men holding a jihadist flag over a road sign in Rochdale, which was altered to read "War Zone Ends", was also shown to jurors.

In a bedroom wardrobe at the Ramsay Street address, investigators also found various patches, flags and a headband, all said to have contained jihadist symbols.

Mr Greaney said the material seized clearly showed that Syeedy had been "radicalised".

He said Syeedy had travelled to Syria in 2013 as part of an aid convoy and said "perhaps" his mindset changed then.

Mr Uddin's form of healing involved the use of amulets, known as taweez, the court heard.

Another image found on a memory stick recovered from the home of Syeedy was of a message posted on Twitter by Cardiff man Reyaad Khan.

Khan, who called himself Abu Dujana, travelled to Syria to fight with IS and was killed in a drone strike in July 2015, the court heard.

One of Khan's tweets showed photographs of taweez and described them as "sihr" - black magic.

Prosecutor Mr Greaney said that by the summer of 2015 antagonism was growing towards Mr Uddin from Syeedy and his friends, some who would meet at the Rochdale-based Dawah Centre.

The Crown say that on August 20 last year an associate of Syeedy stole items connected with Mr Uddin's practice of Ruqya from the Jalalia Mosque and then destroyed them.

On that date, Syeedy sent a WhatsApp message to a friend named Juhel Miah in which it is alleged they discussed the burning of the stolen material.

A plan to exploit the immigration status of Mr Uddin - who was an illegal stayer - was also said to have been referred to with Miah messaging Syeedy: "Don't tell anyone, gna call border force and get him sent off. Keep an eye on where he lives."

Two days later the deceased was photographed while out in the street - an image which was later found on the defendant's iPhone.

Over the course of August and September 2015, Syeedy's WhatsApp group exchanged messages that demonstrated an interest in IS ideology, said Mr Greaney.

While a Facebook message from Kadir about taweez prompted someone to reply: "Muhammed said kill the magician."

On December 23 Miah posted a photograph on WhatsApp of Mr Uddin standing next to Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk and others at the door to the Jalalia Mosque.

An accompanying message read: "Oh crap...voldermort nvr gna b busted by immigration now."

Mr Greaney told the jury: "Lord Voldermort is, of course, a wizard in the Harry Potter novels and films and this message demonstrates, very clearly, that the defendant and his associates viewed the deceased as a magician and that they thought the deportation plan might not work."

He said it was the prosecution case that Syeedy grabbed the murder weapon from his home after he and Kadir had identified where Mr Uddin was on the night of February 18.

Members of the local community attended the scene within a very short time after the stricken Mr Uddin was found in the South Street play area.

Mr Greaney told jurors: "Someone disgracefully filmed on a mobile telephone Jalal Uddin as he was dying on the floor. We do not intend to play that footage to you but you should know that when the defendant's (Syeedy) black iPhone was examined the footage was on there.

"He had received it from someone and he had kept it."

A post-mortem examination revealed the cause of death as "blunt force head injuries", with the skull driven down and into the brain.

Mr Uddin's false teeth were also broken from a "significant" blow to his mouth.

Mr Greaney said: "This was an attack driven by hate and the blow to the mouth was quite possibly the most symbolic of all: 'You will not say anything of which we disapprove'.

The trial, expected to last up to four weeks, continues on Wednesday.

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