ISIS 'matchmaker' called 'one of the most influential English-speaking terrorists of our time' on trial in NYC
- ISIS 'Jamaican cleric' Shaikh Abdullah Faisal is on trial for terror in state court in Manhattan.
- He's 'one of the most influential English-speaking terrorists of our time,' a prosecutor said Monday.
Jamaica-born Islamist cleric Shaikh Abdullah Faisal never blew up a building, or plotted to. Instead, he gave impassioned speeches in London and beyond about violent jihad, and played matchmaker for would-be ISIS brides.
Faisal advised women who dreamed of traveling to the Islamic State and marrying a jihadist to buy two-way tickets and remove their headscarves to escape the notice of "infidels," authorities say.
Two of those "brides" turned out to be undercover NYPD cops, and Faisal is now on trial for terror charges in state court in Manhattan.
Jurors will be asked to decide if Faisal is indeed "one of the most influential English-speaking terrorists of our time," as lead prosecutor Gary Galperin said in opening statements Monday,
They'll also be asked, as the defense countered in openings, if recruiting and matchmaking alone rise to the level of terror under New York state law.
"Focus on the substance of this case," not all the "noise" about ISIS and terror, defense lawyer Alex Grosshtern told jurors.
"Focus on what Mr. Faisal actually did and not what he said," the lawyer said.
Born into an evangelist Christian family in Jamaica, Faisal converted to Islam in high school, and had been inciting violence against "infidels" — even urging throat-slittings and beheadings — since the late '90s.
"The defendant in effect was ISIS before ISIS," which didn't declare a worldwide state, or "caliphate," until 2014, Galperin told jurors.
His teachings were spread through cassette tapes and, later, through his website, radicalizing countless terrorists, according to prosecutors and terrorism experts.
The police officers who portrayed undercover "brides—" pretend sisters "Rojin" and "Mavish" — will both testify in court about the conversations they had with Faisal via email, WhatsApp and Skype, the prosecutor said.
Faisal is charged with five counts of conspiracy and providing aid to terrorists.
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