Imam who told children martyrdom was 'greater success' than school convicted of supporting Isis

'When you don't fulfil the command of Allah, I'm coming to remove your head,' Kamran Hussain told Stoke-on-Trent mosque

The Independent, UK/September 23, 2017

By Lizzie Dearden

An imam who told children that martyrdom was “greater than any other success” they could achieve at school has been convicted for supporting Isis.

Kamran Hussain’s extremist sermons were recorded by an undercover police officer at a charity-funded mosque in Stoke-on-Trent.

Prosecutors said Hussain told children as young as 10 that non-Muslims wanted to kill them and that they must “stand up and be ready to sacrifice, be ready to stand in the face of the elements of Shaytan [Satan], be ready to spill blood and have your blood spilt”.

The 40-year-old argued that he was exercising freedom of speech, and that the ability to discuss “difficult concepts in a challenging world” was an essential part of religion.

But a jury at the Old Bailey found him guilty of eight charges including supporting Isis and encouraging terrorism.

Hussain’s lunchtime speeches to the Ellahi Mosque in Tunstall High Street were recorded for four months from June last year, seeing him address around 40 worshippers including children.

Prosecutors said the 10 out of 17 sermons investigated “strayed beyond the mainstream moderate Islamic thought”.

The court heard that in June, Hussain referred to Isis as “a small fledgling state who is standing in the face of a pompous and arrogant army”, while calling on Muslims to pray for the terrorist group’s victory and for their “oppressors to be annihilated”.

The following month, he prayed for all to live under Sharia law and urged his listeners to stand against “sinners, oppressors and infidels”.

He urged them to “finish them and remove their heads for what they do”, adding: “When you don’t fulfil the command of Allah, I’m coming to remove your head.”

In August, Hussain was recorded speaking in favour of engaging in jihad, while claiming that neither the “Queen or Prime Minister” could stand in the way of the law of Allah.

Hussain said jihadis would “take over a land; they stand a black flag; and establish the law of Allah over the necks of the people, whether they like it or don’t like it”. 

His words were echoed in an audio clip found on one of his mobile phones with a jihadi saying: “Inshallah... we will see the black flag rise over Big Ben and Downing Street.”

Around 15 children were present at a meeting later that month when he gave an incendiary sermon on non-Muslim “kuffar”, while floating conspiracy theories claiming that the far-right English Defence League and Britain First had been created by the Government to target Muslims. 

In September, prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse QC said he told his audience “that martyrdom was the supreme success and was greater than any other success, such as school or college”.

Martyrs would go to paradise if “you go in front of Allah with the bullet wounds and the sword wounds and you are raised in that situation with the blood still coming from your body”, Hussain added.

He repeated the same sentiment later in the month, while criticising the Government’s counter-extremism Prevent programme.

Michael Ivers QC, a barrister representing Hussain, argued there was “a place for criticism and unconventional views” and “not toeing the line”.

He told jurors: “My client… does not need to channel everything he says just so it fits in with what other people think it should say.

“Just because Mr al-Baghdadi and his group – the Islamic State – have decided to take various Islamic terms, words and concepts, that everyone in the world must change their sermon and adapt what they would have said.

“Or everyone must not use the word ‘martyrdom’ anymore because you would be aligning yourself to this johnny-come-lately group who have decided to say it. Why do people have to amend what they say?”

Hussain did not react as he was found guilty on all counts, half of which were by a majority verdict.

A supporter called down from the public gallery “see you soon” as he was led from the dock, with Hussain smiling and replying “inshallah”, meaning God willing.

He was remanded in custody ahead of a sentencing hearing on Thursday, where he faces a maximum of seven years in jail for encouragement of terrorism and 10 years for supporting a proscribed organisation.

West Midlands Police Superintendent Wayne Jones said Hussain’s actions have “no place in our society” and would not be tolerated.

Mari Reid, from the Crown Prosecution Service’s counter-terror division, said Hussain had “violated” his position of trust and authority in the community.

“His audience included children, some as young as 10, who would have heard him say killing others or being killed themselves was more desirable than doing well in school,” she added.

“The CPS was able to take the jury through his dangerous sermons and show how they went beyond ordinary speech and amounted to support for terrorism.”

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