The son of an imam who was murdered for his moderate beliefs has warned that Islamic State supporters are posing as charity workers to radicalise young people in Rochdale.
Saleh al-Arif said that some members of the town’s Muslim community are concerned the Islamic terror group has many supporters among Bengalis in Rochdale. Mr. al-Arif spoke out after Islamic State sympathiser Mohammed Syeedy was given a 24 year jail sentence for his part in the murder of Jalal Uddin, which took place in February this year.
He said: “I spoke to some members of the community. They are really worried about IS supporters. They believe there are a lot of supporters in the Bengali community. From the outside, it’s like they are doing something good, charitable work and other things.
“They believe they are just trying to make a good impression and they are radicalising the young people in the community and they simply don’t want to see that. They are very scared and they believe they have some kind of link with IS. They just want to get rid of it and they want help from the police.”
Mr. Uddin, who Mr. al-Arif described as “the best dad in the world”, was bludgeoned to death by Syeedy and Mohammed Abdul Kadir for practicing a form of Islamic healing which is considered “black magic” by Islamic State supporters and other hard-line Muslims.
Syeedy was convicted of murder after jurors at Manchester crown court heard the 21-year-old helped plan the attack and had acted as the getaway driver. The pair, with friends, stalked the imam for 18 months until his murder on the 18th February this year.
Police are still looking for Mr. Kadir, who flew to Turkey three days after the murder.
Immediately after the killing, some in the media called for “emergency security precautions” for Rochdale’s Muslim community, apparently working on the assumption that white Britons had launched the “Islamophobic” attack.
Shortly after, however, counterterrorism officers who raided Syeedy’s home found photographs, images, and recordings of the young Muslim that confirmed him as a supporter of Islamic State.
Syeedy and Kadir bludgeoned Mr. Uddin to death because they thought he should be “punished” for his beliefs. The court heard the pair had “hatred and intolerance” for the elderly man’s form of Islam.
Mr. al-Arif said of his father: “He was very religious, very peaceful and very knowledgeable. He had no political views but he had strong religious views and what he believed he tried to practise it to the death.”
He told Sky News that he believes there were other people who knew his father was going to be murdered, who didn’t participate in the attack.
“Someone should be keeping an eye on these people. It should be investigated properly,” Mr. al-Arif said.
Head of North West Counter Terrorism Unit, Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole, said of Syeedy: “He was religiously motivated but I wouldn’t class Syeedy as a terrorist.
“He had Daesh sympathies from the material he had, but I wouldn’t stand here and say he’s a terrorist – he’s a murderer.”