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Muslim Cleric Sentenced in Britain - 2003-03-07

A London court has sentenced a Muslim cleric to nine years in prison for stirring up racial hatred and soliciting murder.

Abdullah el-Faisal's sentencing by London's Old Bailey criminal court marks the first time in more than 100 years that anyone has been charged with inciting murder in Britain, without a specific victim being named.

The 39-year-old Muslim cleric denied that he called for the murder of non-believers, Jews, Hindus, and Americans in his fiery sermons. But prosecutors played tape recordings in court in which Faisal urged Muslims to kill those who do not believe in Islam, and spoke of training schoolboys to shoot AK-47 assault rifles. The court also heard that Faisal backed the use of chemical and nuclear weapons in an Islamic holy war.

The Jamaican-born convert to Islam preached in mosques throughout Britain, and sold Arabic-language tapes of his speeches in specialty shops. In his defense, Faisal said he only preached what he had learned from the Koran.

He served as the Imam of the Brixton Mosque in south London.