A mosque leader who called for “Jihad by sword” while making a stabbing gesture and wearing a black top emblazoned with the words “Free Palestine, resistance is existence” has been found guilty of intending to encourage terrorism.
Abu Bakr Deghayes’ twenty-minute sermon a congregation of around 50 at Brighton Mosque and Muslim Community Centre last November was caught on CCTV. The audience reportedly included teenagers and young men in their twenties, as well as older members, and it is understood that several in the audience began to fidget as the speech went on, with some walking out.
The Old Bailey heard that Mr Deghayes, 53, from Saltdean, Sussex and originally from Libya, spoke in English and Arabic, urging the congregation to ignore the British Government and its Prevent programme. He is claimed to have said: “Allah is more powerful than you. You, idiots. You non-believers, idiots. Allah is more powerful than you. The non-believer…is an idiot; he’s stupid. Jihad is compulsory upon you, you, you and you until the Day of Resurrection, whatever the British Government thinks, whatever Prevent thinks, whatever Israel thinks.
“Send to the sea. They can go and drink from the sea, Allah curse their fathers, OK? Jihad, jihad, jihad! Jihad is compulsory. Jihad by fighting by sword that means this jihad is compulsory upon you, not jihad is the word of mouth but jihad will remain compulsory until the Day of Resurrection. And my livelihood is under the shadow of my spear.”
He added that anyone who did not like what he said was an enemy of Allah, declaring: “Go fight Allah! Go Fight Allah!”
Mr Deghayes, who denied wrongdoing, had claimed in his defence that his words referred to self-defence, and that the stabbing gesture was a “dance of the blade”.
Now that the case is over, with Mr Deghayes inexplicably released on continued bail until he is sentenced at the same court on 25th February, details of his family’s ties to Islamists can be published. Two of Mr Deghayes’ sons were killed fighting in Syria (a third died in a stabbing incident in Sussex). Abdul, who was reportedly involved with drugs and was murdered by a dealer in 2019 aged 22, was the twin brother of Abdullah, who was killed in 2016 fighting in Syria. Their brother Jaffar was killed in 2014 aged seventeen while fighting to overthrow the Syrian dictator, Bashas Al-Assad. Both were apparently fighting for the al Qaida-affiliated Al-Nusra Front. Yet another son, Amer, is believed still to be fighting in Syria.
In 2017, a serious case review reportedly identified missed opportunities to prevent the sons from being radicalised, as well as noting failures to understand the role of religion in their lives. The report also alleged that Mr Deghayes would wake the boys up at 04:30 in the morning to study the Koran and would whip them with electrical wire.
The boys’ uncle, Omar Deghayes, was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and spent five years in Guantanamo Bay.
The jury was not told about Mr Deghayes’s family background and ties.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2020 showed that over eight in ten British Jews consider the threat from Islamists to be very serious.
Image credit: Google and Sussex Police