, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 11 – Kenya said on Monday that radical Jamaican Muslim preacher Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal would remain locked up in prison as it sought other means to deport him from the country.
Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang’ told journalists that the government would pull all stops to get the controversial cleric out of Kenya.
“We will try every other means to get him to Jamaica. We are seeking any assistance, the other time someone offered to pay for his flight. We can give him a jumbo – a flight to Kingston if we could afford it. That is how serious we are,” he said.
The Minister said publicity over the matter had contributed to the rejection by many countries to play host to Sheikh al-Faisal. Attempts to deport him have flopped twice now, after Tanzania denied him entry on the first attempt, and international airlines refused to ferry him to the Gambia after national carrier Kenya Airways flew him to Nigeria.
“I can tell you, even if he reached Gambia the situation was such he could have been returned because of the negative publicity in the media,” said Mr Kajwang who insisted that Mr Faisal was not safe for the country and the government will not release him until he left the country.
He accepted that the government was at a fix since other airlines and countries had declined to take the cleric.
His stern wording agitated Mr Faisal’s lawyers and Muslim Human Rights Forum Executive Coordinator al-Amin Kimathi who were present during the press conference. The three addressed the media in the Minister’s boardroom contrary to protocol after Mr Kajwang’ left without talking to them.
Mr Kimathi accused the government of mistreating the preacher who has been denied access to visitors.
Sheikh al-Faisal’s lawyer said the cleric had requested to be flown to Geneva where he could be flown to his country.
“There is a scheduled flight direct from Nairobi to Geneva, Sheikh Faisal is requesting to be flown to Geneva knowing the country’s regulations and its handling on humanitarian issues including prisoners of war and so called wanted persons,” he said.
He also asked the Kenyan authorities to release him and leave him in custody of Muslims and his lawyers defending him of any criminal records.
Mr Kimathi said they will continue pursuing the legal process to have him cleared to go to his country. Sheikh al-Faisal has been graded on a global terror watch list and is said to have served four years in a British jail for inciting racial hatred.
He was taken to the cells at Nairobi’s industrial area cells on Sunday after an airline in Nigeria refused to take him to Gambia.