NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 21 – Latest reports now indicate that unwanted Jamaican cleric Abdullah El-Faisal is still on Kenyan soil.
Multiple sources confirmed that the Gulfstream jet chartered to transport him to his homeland was still parked on the runway at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by 5pm Kenyan time "after it developed a mechanical problem."
"Yes, he has not left after the plane developed a malfunction," a senior government source who spoke on condition of anonymity told Capital News.
The latest information contradicts assertions made in court by senior State Counsel Edwin Okello on Thursday afternoon that Sheikh El-Faisal left JKIA mid morning for Jamaica.
The preacher was due to be produced before court on Thursday morning but the judge in the case pushed the matter to 2.30pm. When the matter came up, the office of the Attorney General asked for about 20 minutes to verify his whereabouts. Later, Mr Okello informed Justice Jean Gacheche that Sheikh El-Faisal was no longer on Kenyan soil.
Mr Okello said: “I have been told by the Anti Terrorism Police Unit officers that the subject is no longer within the jurisdiction of the court. He has left the country and his destination is Jamaica.”
“He left by Gulfstream jet flight number ZSJGC312 this morning.”
Documents produced in court and obtained by Capital News indicated that the preacher checked in through customs and was destined for Jamaica.
His passport shows he entered East Africa through the little known Tanzanian town of Kasumulu on December 9, last year. He crossed over to Kenya from Horohoro through to Lunga Lunga in the South Coast on December 24.
Sheikh El-Faisal, who was jailed for four years in Britain for inciting racial hatred, was arrested in the port city of Mombasa on December 31 by Kenyan police, who had since tried and failed to deport him twice.
The 45-year-old firebrand cleric\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\’s arrest without charge sparked an outcry among Kenya\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\’s Muslim community and protests which left five dead following Friday prayers on January 15.
The high court had been due to decide whether or not to keep Abdullah El-Faisal – who is on several international terror watchlists – in detention.
Earlier on Thursday, the police filed several security documents accusing the Jamaican cleric of engaging in preaching activities that violated the terms of his tourist visa, and of being a national security threat.
The Muslim Human Rights Forum has in the meantime released a statement saying any protest over the cleric’s saga has been cancelled. Al-Amin Kimathi said no protests had been planned in Mombasa or Nairobi as claimed.
His lawyers led by Haroun Ndubi expressed shock at the turn of events and demanded full documentation including officers who had accompanied him.
“We want to be furnished with documents to show which ATPU officers followed him, who is the pilot, which plane… and such other documents,” Mr Ndubi told the judge.
Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula had said earlier this week that the cleric would be out of the country by Thursday.
Neither Mr Wetangula nor the High Court officials gave any details of the route El-Faisal would take. If headed to Jamaica by plane, a re-fuelling stop in a second country would be necessary.
He is persona non-grata in most Western countries and has been denied transit in several African countries. Kenya\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\’s two previous deportation efforts earlier this month failed when Tanzania and later a Nigerian airline refused to take him.
According to internet sources the Gulfstream V jet has a range of 6,750 nautical miles (12,500 km), the longest flight range in its class.
The Gulfstream 550 competes against the Airbus Corporate Jet, Boeing Business Jet, and the Bombardier Global Express.