Man jailed for life for IS-inspired murder of ‘black magic’ imam

Mohammed Syeedy denied knowledge of the attack, a claim described in court as 'absurd'. Picture: PA
Mohammed Syeedy denied knowledge of the attack, a claim described in court as 'absurd'. Picture: PA

A former Manchester United steward was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 24 years yesterday after being convicted of the IS-inspired murder of an imam.

Mohammed Syeedy, 21, was consumed by hatred of Jalal Uddin, 71, because he practised a form of Islamic healing in Rochdale’s Bangladeshi community which the terror group consider “black magic”.

Syeedy acted as getaway driver for another man, Mohammed Kadir, 24, who bludgeoned Mr Uddin to death in a children’s play area on the early evening of February 18, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Kadir fled the UK three days after the killing and it is thought he may now be in Syria.

Defenceless Mr Uddin was dealt at least five savage blows with a blunt weapon, thought to be a hammer, shortly after he entered the park in South Street, Rochdale. The swift and ferocious attack smashed his skull and drove a piece of bone into his brain.

Their victim 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

The Crown said Syeedy was a “knowing participant” in the murder and his claim he had no idea what IS supporter and ex-John Lewis call centre worker Kadir planned and then carried out was “absurd”.

Syeedy may even have provided the murder weapon – which has not been found – during the night, the jury heard.

When police searched the defendant’s family home in Ramsay Street, they discovered a large volume of IS-related material on his phone and other devices, which the Crown say clearly showed he had been radicalised.

Photographs showing Syeedy and friends raising IS-style index finger salutes and holding IS flags were found, the court heard.

In a bedroom wardrobe, investigators also found various patches, flags and a headband, all said to have contained jihadist symbols.

A video clip featuring an aid convoy he embarked on to Syria contained footage of his younger brother planting a black flag, with Arabic writing, outside a community centre, near to the murder scene in Rochdale. Another video showed a friend in a local B&Q store stating: “Islamic State are coming to Oldham.”

Also recovered from the defendant’s iPhone was footage of Mr Uddin lying dying on the ground in South Street, said to have been filmed by a local teenager. Giving evidence, the Rochdale-born Muslim said he was not a follower of IS and was “disgusted” about the death of Bangladeshi national Mr Uddin. His barrister, Icah Peart QC, said Syeedy was “a caring humanitarian”