Brighton mosque leader, 53, guilty over 'Jihad by the sword' sermon

Brighton mosque leader whose jihadi sons were killed fighting in Syria is found GUILTY of encouraging terrorism after telling congregation ‘Jihad by sword is compulsory’

  • Father-of-six Abu Bakr Deghayes today found guilty of encouraging terrorism
  • The 53-year-old made stabbing motion with hand while preaching about ‘Jihad’
  • Sermon was made to 50-strong congregation at the Brighton Mosque in Sussex
  • Can be revealed Deghayes is brother to Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes
  • He is also the father of two jihadists who left UK to join Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria
  • A British mosque leader who called on his congregation to commit ‘Jihad by sword’ while making a stabbing motion with his hand has today been found guilty of encouraging terrorism. 

    Abu Bakr Deghayes, 53, preached that ‘Jihad was compulsory’ to his 50-strong congregation, including children, during a sermon at the Brighton Mosque in Muslim Community Centre in Sussex. 

    Libyan-born Deghayes,of Saltdean, Brighton, denied encouraging terrorism but was today convicted following a trial the Old Bailey in London.

    The conviction means it can now be reported that Deghayes is the father of two British jihadists killed in Syria while fighting for an affiliate of terror group al-Qaeda.

    One of his sons, Abdullah Deghayes, 18, was killed by a sniper in Syria while fighting for Jabhat al-Nusra in the Idlib Province. Nine months later Abdullah’s younger brother, Jaffar, 17, was also killed in Syria. 

    A third brother, Amer, then 20, was shot in the stomach in the same battle as Abdullah but survived.

    Deghayes has also seen one of his sons, Abdul Deghayes, die on the streets of Brighton during a drug deal in February 2019.

    A ‘drug enforcer’, Abdul, 20, was murdered by Daniel MacLeod who stabbed him in the leg, arm and buttocks before driving away and leaving him to die. 

    A fifth brother, Mohammed Deghayes, was jailed for four years at Lewes Crown Court in April 2018 after police found him in the back of a car with 19 wraps of heroin and crack cocaine hidden in his body.  

    It can also be reported today that Deghayes is the brother to Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes, who was held in the notorious US detention camp as a ‘suspected enemy combatant’ in the Afghanistan conflict. 

    Omar, who claims he was sold to US forces by Pakistani bounty hunters and was tortured while at Guantanamo, was never charged with any offence and was released back to the UK in 2007.

    Abu Bakr Deghayes made a stabbing motion with his hands as he told his congregation that 'Jihad was compulsory', a court heard

    Abu Bakr Deghayes made a stabbing motion with his hands as he told his congregation that ‘Jihad was compulsory’, a court heard

    One of his sons, Abdullah Deghayes, 18, was killed by a sniper in Syria while fighting for Jabhat al-Nusra

    Nine months later Abdullah's younger brother, Jaffar, 17, was also killed in Syria.

    One of his sons, Abdullah Deghayes (pictured left), 18, was killed by a sniper in Syria while fighting for Jabhat al-Nusra. Nine months later Abdullah’s younger brother, Jaffar (pictured right), 17, was also killed in Syria

    A third brother, Amer, then 20, was shot in the stomach in the same battle as Abdullah but survived

    A 'drug enforcer' Abdul, 20, was murdered by Daniel MacLeod who stabbed him in the leg, arm and buttocks before driving away.

    A third brother, Amer, then 20, was shot in the stomach in the same battle as Abdullah but survived

    It can also be reported today that Deghayes is the brother to Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes, who was held in the notorious US detention camp as a 'suspected enemy combatant' in the Afghanistan conflict

    It can also be reported today that Deghayes is the brother to Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes, who was held in the notorious US detention camp as a ‘suspected enemy combatant’ in the Afghanistan conflict

    Libyan-born Deghayes,of Saltdean, Brighton (pictured: The family lived in this home in 2014), denied encouraging terrorism but was today convicted following a trial the Old Bailey in London

    Libyan-born Deghayes,of Saltdean, Brighton (pictured: The family lived in this home in 2014), denied encouraging terrorism but was today convicted following a trial the Old Bailey in London

    What Abu Bakr Deghayes told worshippers at Brighton Mosque and Muslim Community Centre in his sermon

    In the sermon, Deghayes criticised Boris Johnson, saying: ‘We have a prime minister at the moment who has made a mockery of the niqab before becoming the prime minister and said this is like a letter box.’

    Citing coronavirus, he added: ‘Look at the corona, now look how the world is in a mess, great mess. Where are these scientists? Where’s these armies? Where are the technology? Where are the laboratories?

    ‘Who’s more powerful than us? [That’s] what they’re saying, who’s more powerful than us? Look we have this, we have that, who’s power is more powerful than us?

    ‘Allah is more powerful than you! You idiots! You non-believers, idiots. Allah is more powerful than you! The non-believer going to work is an idiot, he is stupid, he can’t feed himself.’

    Deghayes criticised moves to close mosques, to stop the spread of the virus, adding: ‘Faith, faith, faith, faith you know especially this period now. Now were going again they’re saying you know, close the mosques.

    ‘There’s no strength or power except with Allah. There were plagues in the community before there was cholera, millions died, never mosques were closed, ever ever.’

    And speaking about religion, he added: ‘You know, today if you praise Islam, you’re strange among your own people, among your own family.

    ‘This guy is crazy man, you know they’re going to take him to Belmarsh [prison] very soon. Look what he’s doing, look, look! Don’t say this brother, don’t do that. Sit down.

    ‘Today you pass by, you see a person you know kicking the mosque and we pass, it’s not my business, it’s got nothing to do with me. Who is it to do with? It’s the house of Allah.

    ‘Why is it always him who’s doing this? Why are you angry? He has anger management problems. The community has forgotten its duty.’

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    Deghayes had previously told the Old Bailey he had been involved and active in the Brighton Mosque doing talks, book readings, and Friday sermons since 1987, when he would have been 18.

    He became a trustee of the mosque in Dyke Road, Brighton, also known as al-Quds Mosque, but resigned in December 2018.

    Police first became involved in 1997 when it was claimed that Abu Bakr, then aged 29, had been preaching in a manner that might ‘incite racial unrest’ and ‘reflected strong al-Qaeda sympathies’.

    In the latest sermon, evening prayers had just finished on Sunday November 1 last year, when Deghayes, 53, stood at the front of the mosque, with a book in his hand.

    In footage played to the jury, he could be seen in socks, wearing a black top with the words ‘Free Palestine, resistance is existence.’

    The congregation included teenagers and young men in their 20s, but several older worshippers began fidgeting as the sermon went on, and some walked out.

    Ben Lloyd, prosecuting, told the court: ‘The speech demonstrates the defendant to be an Islamic extremist.

    ‘The prosecution case is clear and straightforward – by standing up at the front of a busy mosque, and by quite deliberately saying ‘jihad by fighting by sword’, the defendant was encouraging terrorism, encouraging violence in the name of Islam.

    ‘If the defendant’s own words were not clear enough, he also made a stabbing gesture with his hands.’

    Mr Lloyd told the jury: ‘Let me make one thing clear: what the case is not about is the freedom to practice religion or the freedom to worship.

    ‘Of course, none of that is unlawful in this country. This is not about those who believe in Islam, rather, this case is about those who encourage violence in the name of religion, which, for very good reason you may feel, is a criminal offence.’

    Deghayes, from Saltdean, Brighton, told the jury he believed that jihad by the sword was a ‘fundamental obligation’ and was demonstrating a stabbing action to emphasise his point.

    ‘No one can wipe out the fact in the Koran that fighting with the sword to protect yourself, lift oppression, open the way for the message to be passed, if blocked, speak the truth in front of a tyrant, nobody can wipe out that,’ he said.

    Tom Wainwright, defending, asked: ‘What is the action you are doing?’

    ‘That is the dance of the blade, to make sure I bring it home, so no one is misunderstanding, it is jihad of the sword, it is compulsory on us as a Muslim,’ Deghayes said.

    But he said jihad and terrorism were not the same things.

    ‘The general view in the media, in the environment is that jihad is terrorism. Some lunatic crazy guy stabs people in the street, it has nothing to do with Islam, or goes and bombs civilians, straight away he’s a jihadi.’

    Deghayes delivered the speech to his congregation at Brighton Mosque (pictured), jurors were told

    Deghayes delivered the speech to his congregation at Brighton Mosque (pictured), jurors were told 

    Deghayes (pictured in 2014) was jailed in 2018 for attempting to pervert the course of justice after he was arrested for dislocating his wife's shoulder during what he said was an attempted exorcism

    Deghayes (pictured in 2014) was jailed in 2018 for attempting to pervert the course of justice after he was arrested for dislocating his wife’s shoulder during what he said was an attempted exorcism

    Deghayes son, Abdullah, was killed aged 18 by a sniper while fighting for an al-Qaeda-linked group in Idlib Province, Syria.

    His death was followed, nine months later, by his younger brother, Jaffar, who was still only 17.

    A third brother, Amer, then 20, the eldest and first to leave for Syria, was shot in the stomach in the same battle as Abdullah but survived and remained in the country where he married and had a child.

    Back in Brighton, Abdul Deghayes, Abdullah’s twin brother, accumulated 14 drug convictions for 25 offences.

    He was stabbed to death aged 22 in a driveway in Brighton in February 2019 as a punishment because he had previously stolen drugs from the dealer.

    A fifth brother was also involved in drug dealing. Mohammed Deghayes, then aged 20, was jailed for four years at Lewes Crown Court in April 2018 after police found him in the back of a car with 19 wraps of heroin and crack cocaine hidden in his body. 

    The al-Quds Mosque is the same mosque attended by the hook-handed preacher Abu Hamza (pictured) during the early 1980s

    The al-Quds Mosque is the same mosque attended by the hook-handed preacher Abu Hamza (pictured) during the early 1980s

    Deghayes himself was jailed in 2018 for attempting to pervert the course of justice after he was arrested for dislocating his wife’s shoulder during what he said was an attempted exorcism.

    His brother, Omar Deghayes, was imprisoned in Guantanamo, the notorious US detention centre on the island of Cuba, after being arrested in Pakistan in 2002. 

    He was held as an enemy combatant, but claims he was captured by Pakistani bounty hunters and was ‘sold’ to US forces in the midst of the Afghan conflict.

    Omar was never charged with terror offences and became the subject of a campaign by his family, backed by six Sussex MPs, to free him.

    He was released to the UK in 2007, following a request by the then Labour-run British Government under Gordon Brown.

    Omar later alleged he was tortured in Guantanamo, including that he had his eye gouged out by a guard. 

    In 2007 Omar and another former detainee were arrested under a Spanish warrant on allegations of al-Qaeda involvement in 2003.

    Spanish prosecutors made an extradition request to the UK, but dropped it a year later after hearing claims that Omar was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

    The al-Quds Mosque is the same mosque attended by the hook-handed preacher Abu Hamza during the early 1980s.

    Hamza is now serving a sentence in the US for trying to establishing a terrorist training camp in Oregon. 

    Deghayes, of Saltdean, Brighton, was remanded on bail ahead of sentence on 25 February subject to conditions including living and sleeping each night at his address, reporting at his local police station three times a week, surrendering his passport and not applying for any travel documents.

    Judge Nigel Lickley ordered a probation report but warned Deghayes that was no indication of the sentence he would pass.

    ‘Because of the offence you have been convicted of, what I have at the forefront of my mind is a custodial sentence.

    Detective Chief Superintendent Kath Barnes, Head of Counter-Terrorism Police South East, said: ‘I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those within the community who support and assist officers during investigations of this nature.

    ‘It is vitally important that communities come forward with this information if they think someone has been or is trying to radicalise others.

    ‘By reporting to us, we can take action and investigate.’

    From jihadists killed fighting for terror groups in Syria, to a murder victim killed in a drug deal: Who are the Deghayes family? 

    Family: Amer Deghayes (centre, in grey) was the first of his family to leave for Syria, telling his parents he wanted to be an aid worker. Brother Abdullah (front left) and Jaffar (front right) followed soon after

    Family: Amer Deghayes (centre, in grey) was the first of his family to leave for Syria, telling his parents he wanted to be an aid worker. Brother Abdullah (front left) and Jaffar (front right) followed soon after

    Abu Bakr Deghayes

    The 53-year-old father-of-six is originally from Syria. He is the brother of Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes, and is a former leader of the al-Quds Mosque in Brighton. 

    Three of his sons have been involved in terror. In April 2014 his son, Abdullah Deghayes, 18, was killed by a sniper in Syria while fighting for the al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra.

    The 53-year-old father-of-six is originally from Syria. He is the brother of Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes, and is a former leader of the al-Quds Mosque in Brighton

    The 53-year-old father-of-six is originally from Syria. He is the brother of Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes, and is a former leader of the al-Quds Mosque in Brighton

    Nine months later his younger brother, Jaffar, 17, was also killed in Syria.

    A third brother, Amer, then 20, was shot in the stomach in the same battle as Abdullah but survived. 

    Back in Brighton, where Deghayes and his family live, another son, Abdul, also 20, was stabbed to death by a drug dealer in Brighton on 16 February 2019.

    Killer Daniel McLeod was later jailed for life and at least 19 years for his murder. 

    In April 2018, another son, Mohammed Deghayes, was jailed for four years for drug dealing.

    He became a trustee of the mosque in Dyke Road, Brighton, also known as al-Quds Mosque, but resigned in 2018. 

    Deghayes himself was jailed in 2018 for attempting to pervert the course of justice after he was arrested for dislocating his wife’s shoulder during what he said was an attempted exorcism.  

    Now he faces a jail sentence again after being found guilty of encouraging terrorism.  

    He preached that ‘Jihad was compulsory’ to his 50-strong congregation, including children, during an uninvited sermon at the Brighton Mosque in Muslim Community Centre in Sussex. 

    He denied the charge but was found guilty at the Old Bailey today.

    Omar Deghayes

    Omar Deghayes, 52, was imprisoned in Guantanamo, the notorious US detention centre on the island of Cuba, after being arrested in Pakistan in 2002

    Omar Deghayes, 52, was imprisoned in Guantanamo, the notorious US detention centre on the island of Cuba, after being arrested in Pakistan in 2002

    Omar Deghayes, 52, was imprisoned in Guantanamo, the notorious US detention centre on the island of Cuba, after being arrested in Pakistan in 2002. 

    He was held as an enemy combatant, but claims he was captured by Pakistani bounty hunters and was ‘sold’ to US forces in the midst of the Afghan conflict.

    Omar was never charged with terror offences and became the subject of a campaign by his family, backed by six Sussex MPs, to free him.

    He was released to the UK in 2007, following a request by the then Labour-run British Government under Gordon Brown.

    Omar later alleged he was tortured in Guantanamo, including that he had his eye gouged out by a guard. 

    In 2007 Omar and another former detainee were arrested under a Spanish warrant on allegations of al-Qaeda involvement in 2003.

    Spanish prosecutors made an extradition request to the UK, but dropped it a year later after hearing claims that Omar was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. 

    Abdullah Deghayes 

    A keen footballer, Abdullah grew up in Brighton with his family. He was the twin brother of Abdulrahman

    A keen footballer, Abdullah grew up in Brighton with his family. He was the twin brother of Abdulrahman

    A keen footballer, Abdullah grew up in Brighton with his family. He was the twin brother of Abdulrahman.

    In October 2013, his brother Amer left Brighton for Syria, where he joined a radical Islamist militia fighting Bashar al-Assad’s army. 

    His friend Ibrahim soon joined him, along with two of Amer’s younger brothers, Jaffar and Abdullah. 

    Abdullah, was killed aged 18 by a sniper while fighting for an al-Qaeda-linked group in Idlib Province, Syria.

    Described as a 'studious' youngster, according to reports Jaffar always wanted to become a fireman. He fought for an al-Qaeda as a Jihadist

    Described as a ‘studious’ youngster, according to reports Jaffar always wanted to become a fireman. He fought for an al-Qaeda as a Jihadist

    Jaffar Deghayes 

    Described as a ‘studious’ youngster, according to reports Jaffar always wanted to become a fireman. 

    He is said to have bonded with his brothers through kickabouts in their local park and swimming.

    Like Abdullah and Amer, he travelled to Syria to fight as a Jihadist. He died nine months after his older brother Abdullah at the age of 17.

    Amer Deghayes

    Amer, the eldest son of his family, had set his sights on becoming a serious journalist. Instead, he became a terror fighter

    Amer, the eldest son of his family, had set his sights on becoming a serious journalist. Instead, he became a terror fighter

    Amer, the eldest son of his family, had set his sights on becoming a serious journalist.  

    When he wasn’t spending time with his family, Amer hung out with his best friend, Ibrahim Kamara, a refugee from Sierra Leone.

    The pair would end up being the first of the brothers to travel to Syria to fight as Jihadists, later being joined by his brothers, who would die fighting.

    Amer himself was shot in the stomach in the same battle as Abdullah but survived and remained in the country where he married and had a child.

    Abdulrahman ‘Abdul’ Deghayes  

    Abdul who did not fight in Syria with his brothers, instead stayed in Sussex and became a drug 'enforcer'

    Abdul who did not fight in Syria with his brothers, instead stayed in Sussex and became a drug ‘enforcer’

    Abdulrhaman, known as ‘Abdul’, was sent to Longhill High, a school taking children from some of Brighton’s most deprived areas, along with his twin brother Abdullah.

    According to a Guardian report in 2016, family friends said the two boys, who were among a small minority of Muslim pupils, were mercilessly targeted with racist abuse. 

    Abdul who did not fight in Syria with his brothers, instead stayed in Sussex and became a drug ‘enforcer’.

    He accumulated 14 drug convictions for 25 offences.

    But he was stabbed to death aged 22 in a driveway in Brighton in February 2019 as a punishment because he had previously stolen drugs from the dealer.

    Knife man Daniel MacLeod, 37, left Abdul to bleed to death on a Brighton street after stabbing him in the leg, arm and buttocks and driving away.

    MacLeod, who was convicted of his murder, was given life with a minimum sentence of 19 years in 2020.

    Mohammed Deghayes 

    Little is known about Mohammed Deghayes’ early years, other than that he too grew up with his five siblings in Brighton. 

    Aged 20, he was jailed for four years at Lewes Crown Court in April 2018 after police found him in the back of a car with 19 wraps of heroin and crack cocaine hidden in his body.

    He has never been linked to Islamist activities.

    Hollie Collinge, defending him during his case, said Deghayes had turned to drugs as ‘a much-needed escape from everything going on around him’ and that he had been clean during the six months he had spent in custody since his November 2017 arrest. 

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