(Reuters) - New York state prosecutors on Friday charged radical Jamaican Muslim cleric Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal with seeking to recruit people to join Islamic State.
El-Faisal, 53, was arrested the same day in Jamaica, and New York authorities will seek to have him extradited to face charges in Manhattan Supreme Court, according to a U.S. law enforcement source.
El-Faisal, born Trevor William Forrest in St. James, Jamaica, was previously convicted in the United Kingdom in 2003 of soliciting murder and imprisoned. He was deported to Jamaica in 2007 after being released.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said Friday that el-Faisal used lectures, a website and videos to incite followers to join Islamic State, which is designated a terrorist organisation by U.S. authorities.
“A charismatic leader, the defendant’s rhetoric has been cited by several convicted or suspected terrorists in New York, London, and beyond,” Vance said in a statement.
Friday’s indictment follows a year-long investigation by the New York Police Department’s intelligence bureau and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office’s counter-terrorism programme, according to the announcement from Vance’s office.
Prosecutors said that beginning in December 2016, el-Faisal began communicating remotely from Jamaica with an undercover NYPD officer. He urged the officer to view Islamic State propaganda materials online, and offered to help him travel to the Middle East to fight for the organisation, prosecutors said.
NYPD members ultimately did travel to the Middle East, and once they arrived, el-Faisal put them in touch with a contact in Raqqa, Syria, according to prosecutors.
El-Faisal is charged with soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney.
Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish