A radical Islamic cleric described by prosecutors as “one of the most influential English speaking terrorist of our times” is standing trial in Manhattan for allegedly encouraging a female undercover NYPD cop to carry out terror attacks.
During opening statements in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday, prosecutors described Shaikh Abdullah Faisal, 59, as an Islamic State recruiter and marriage broker who had committed “far reaching crimes of terrorism.”
Faisal is accused of communicating with the undercover NYPD officer by e-mail, text and video chat in a bid to encourage her to join ISIS and carry out attacks overseas from 2015 to 2017.
He also allegedly offered to introduce the woman — who was posing as a would-be jihadist — to a suitable husband within the terror group.
“This defendant, with his extremist roots, formed an integral relationship with ISIS. He worked and aided ISIS and his mission to inflict terror,” Assistant District Attorney Gary Galperin told the jurors.
“You will conclude that the defendant not only talked the talk but also walked the walk that he paved with concrete crimes of terrorism.”
The militant cleric — born Trevor William Forrest in Jamaica — had made various online posts that pointed to his alleged extremism, prosecutors said.
They pointed to one of Osama Bin Laden’s speeches that Faisal had published on his website and insisted that “every word is a gem.”
“By Allah’s permission we will be taking a look at a speech that was delivered by Osama Bin Laden…. everything he said is of extreme importance — every word is like a gem,” the alleged terrorist wrote, according to prosecutors.
In speeches he gave and posted online, prosecutors say Faisal allegedly encouraged followers to wage jihad against enemies of Islam and even kill Americans, Jews and Hindis.
“The way forward is not the ballot. The way forward is the bullet,” he said in one speech, according to the indictment.
“You should cut the throats of the kafirs with machetes,” he told followers, using a term for nonbelievers.
Faisal — who served four years in prison following his 2003 conviction for inciting racial hatred in Britain — was arrested in his native Jamaica in 2017 and extradited to New York.
He has pleaded not guilty to five counts — including conspiracy as a crime of terrorism and soliciting or providing support for an act of terrorism.
The charges carry potential sentences ranging from seven to 25 years in prison.
Faisal’s defense attorney, Alex Grosshtern, argued in his opening statements that there was no evidence his client actually committed an act of terrorism — and urged the jury not to judge him on his statements.
“The evidence will not show him planning an actual act of terrorism against the United States,” Grosshtern told jurors.
He added that the evidence also won’t show that “there was a recruitment of a female to go to Syria and assist ISIS in engaging in any specific act of terrorism.”
The trial is expected to last through mid-January.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was seated in the court room during the opening statements.