In 2014, Shaikh Faisal, a Jamaican preacher, began communicating with people in Manhattan via email — in an apparent attempt to convince them to join ISIL.
Now a dramatic trial that began on Nov. 1 is heading for jury deliberations this week.
Among the most bizarre charges, according to prosecutors, he reached out to a person he did not realize was an undercover NYPD agent and tried to convince her to become a war bride to an ISIL fighter.
“Do you want the cell number of the brother u can marry,” he was said to have texted the undercover NYPD female officer. And in an international terrorist version of computer dating, the indictment said the ISIL fighter texted his picture to the undercover agent — and asked for her picture in return.
Now, Faisal’s case is going to jury after nearly three months of courtroom drama that is a landmark in the city and state. Prosecutors charged he is accused of committing “far reaching crimes of terror” in both trying to recruit for Islamic terrorists and serving as a marriage broker for ISIL.
“This is not the first time this office has pursued international terrorism charges, but it is the first full trial,” a press officer from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office stated via email. Post-9/11 anti-terror laws “created a way for the state to pursue them,” she said.
Faisal, born Trevor William Forrest, was accused of five terrorism-related counts after a months-long stint of communication with an undercover officer, according to the indictment brought against him by former District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., on behalf of the Grand Jury of the County of New York.
Two decades ago, Faisal served four years in prison in Britain, after being convicted of “inciting racial hatred and soliciting murder after encouraging the killing of Hindus, Jews and Americans,” the New York Times reported. His more recent charges are based on inflammatory statements published online, emails sent with instructions and contacts for joining ISIL and messages sent to the undercover officer.
“The way forward is not the ballot. The way forward is the bullet,” Faisal communicated in one online statement, as part of a lecture, according to the indictment. In communication with the undercover officer in 2016, Faisal cautioned that “many pple [sic] got arrested just from text messages.”
CORRECTION: Due to an editors error, the original story that was published on 1/23 said the trial was beginning this week. It should have said jury deliberations were beginning this week.
“This is not the first time this office has pursued international terrorism charges, but it is the first full trial.” A press officer from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office