Murderer of imam deserved to get life sentence, family says


The family of an imam brutally murdered with a hammer because of his religious beliefs have said the life sentence for the man found guilty of his killing is deserved.

Mohammed Syeedy was consumed by hatred of Jalal Uddin, 71, because he practised a form of Islamic healing in Rochdale's Bangladeshi community which terror group Islamic State (IS) considers to be "black magic" and punishable by death.

The 21-year-old acted as getaway driver for another man, Mohammed Kadir, 24, who bludgeoned Mr Uddin to death in a children's play area in the early evening of February 18.

On Friday at Manchester Crown Court, Rochdale-born Syeedy was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 24 years after being convicted of murdering the imam.

Saleh Al Arif, the son of Mr Uddin, said Syeedy "deserved this punishment" and that he will be satisfied when Kadir, who fled the UK three days after the killing and is thought to be in Syria, is brought to justice.

After the ruling, in a video interview published by Greater Manchester Police in which he appeared with his mother Kamrun Nissa, he said: "He was the best dad, the best dad in this world, I think.

"As a person, I have to tell you he was a very religious person, very peaceful, very knowledgeable.

"He had no political views but he had strong religious views, and what he believed he tried to practise it ... he never had any misunderstandings."

Defenceless Mr Uddin was dealt at least five blows from behind with a hammer shortly after he entered the park in South Street, Rochdale.

The ferocious attack smashed his skull and drove a piece of bone into his brain.

Mr Uddin was targeted after it was discovered he was providing "taweez", in which he made amulets to bring good fortune to the wearer.

Syeedy was involved in months-long surveillance of Mr Uddin and, along with Kadir, stalked their prey after he left the Jalalia Mosque to go to a friend's house for an evening meal.

During Syeedy's trial, the court heard how among images found on phones and devices seized by police at his home was Jihadist material including him posing in pictures holding IS flags, wearing IS patches and raising index-finger salutes, commonly used by the terror group.

Mr Al Arif said his father was "a distinguished Islamic scholar" who had moved to the UK in 2002 to help provide for his family back home.

He began teaching the Koran to children in east London before moving to Birmingham and then to Rochdale, where he became an imam at the Jalalia Mosque.

Mr Al Arif said: "The way he was attacked and the way he died - he didn't deserve it, he was such a peaceful person."

He added: "It is really hard for us - she (his mother) lost her best friend, her husband.

"It was very painful for us, because when his body was sent back to Bangladesh, my mother, my brothers - no-one could see his face because of facial injuries he sustained."

The family also thanked Greater Manchester Police and their legal representatives for making justice possible.