, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 7 – The government finally deported controversial Jamaican Muslim cleric Abdullah al-Faisal to Gambia on Thursday, following days of uncertainly after Tanzania refused to accept him.
Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang said the 45-year-old al-Faisal chose to go to Gambia after the country agreed to give him passage to Jamaica.
“We were unable to deport him initially because most countries, including the United States were not willing to receive him on their soil even on transit, that is why we allowed him to choose a country of his choice,” the Minister said.
“He chose Gambia, and he has already been deported to that country because it accepted to receive him,” he said when he met Al-Faisal’s lawyer Haroun Ndubi and Muslim human rights activists led by Al-Amin Kimathi.
The group had gone to the Minister’s office to demand to be allowed to see the preacher who was being held at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) after Tanzania refused him entry at the Namanga border.
Mr Kajwang’ told the group “the matter is no longer in the jurisdiction of the Kenyan government because the subject has already landed in Banjul.”
“We are in touch with the Gambian government and the information we have is that he has already landed in Banjul. Authorities there have agreed to facilitate his movement to his final destination which is his home country in Jamaica,” the Minister said.
Mr Ndubi and Muslim leaders however, insisted they wanted to see the deportation order the Minister had signed and documents showing Al-Faisal had accepted to be taken to Banjul.
“We want to see where my client has signed to show he was taken to Banjul in his own volition. He had indicated he only wanted to be taken to Jamaica, and we don’t understand why we were not being allowed to see him before he left,” Mr Ndubi said.
The Minister pledged to show them the documents but insisted Kenya “had no alternative but to deport him.”
“There is a very thin rope to walk between activism and security. Al-Faisal has not committed any crime here in Kenya but we are relying on his past history and the fact that he is on the global watchlist, we had to deport him,” Mr Kajwang said.
According to Mr Kajwang, the Muslim cleric was arrested on News Years’ eve as he left a mosque in the coastal town of Mombasa. He had arrived in Kenya a week earlier by road from Tanzania.
“Our officers were not able to detect him and he was therefore allowed to come into the country, but when our officers realised that he was in Kenya, he had to be arrested and I signed the deportation order,” Mr Kajwang explained.
Mr Al-Faisal was born Trevor William Forrest in St James Jamaica, and left the island for the UK 26 years ago, according to international media reports.
His parents are reported to have been Salvation Army officers who raised him as a Christian up to the age of 16 when he is said to have relocated to Saudi Arabia where he spent eight years and became a Muslim.
He was arrested and convicted in Britain in 2003 after spending years urging his audiences to kill Jews, Hindus and Westerners but was released on parole in 2007 and expelled from the UK.