Father of pair killed fighting in Syria jailed for encouraging terrorism

Libyan in UK gave a speech at a mosque calling for violence

Abubaker Deghayes has been jailed for encouraging terrorism. Alamy Live News

A father whose two sons died fighting in Syria has been jailed for four years for encouraging violence in a speech at his local mosque.

Abubaker Deghayes, 54, called for fighting "by sword” when he addressed worshippers at the Brighton Mosque and Muslim Community Centre.

Deghayes, originally from Libya, was found guilty after a trial at the Old Bailey of intending to encourage terrorism in his speech to around 50 people, including children and young adults.

Judge Nigel Lickley, sentencing, described Deghayes’s actions as “reckless” rather than intentional, as he made a speech at a book reading session at the end of prayers on November 1 2020.

Deghayes was seen to make a stabbing gesture when speaking.

Deghayes, of Saltdean in East Sussex, was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment and given another year on licence.

The judge said his comments came at the end of a speech that was not rehearsed and had also included statements about the pandemic.

He told Deghayes: “You said at that point you were ‘rolling with the speech’. I take that to mean that you got carried away by the audience.”

There was no evidence that Deghayes had been in a position of authority or influence in the mosque and he had abused that position, but his statement had been “made recklessly” widely to an audience, the judge said.

The audience included fathers and their school-age sons who, as such, could be considered “vulnerable”.

During his trial, jurors were played a video of Deghayes’s speech in which he was seen to make a stabbing gesture.

Deghayes told worshippers: “Whose power is more powerful than us? Allah is more powerful than you. You, idiots. You kuffar (non-believers)… The non-believer is an idiot. He’s stupid.”

Deghayes had denied wrongdoing, saying he was explaining the use of the sword as self-defence. The gesture he made was a “dance of the blade”, he claimed.

He also referred to Boris Johnson having to wear a mask during the pandemic, after the PM described Muslim women who wore a face covering as “letter boxes”.

Two of Deghayes’s sons were killed fighting for Islamists in Syria and he lost a third in a stabbing in the East Sussex city.

Abdul – who had become embroiled with drugs and was murdered by a dealer in 2019 aged 22 – was the twin brother of Abdullah, who was killed fighting in Syria in 2016 aged 18.

Their brother Jaffar, 17, was killed in 2014 while trying to overthrow Bashar Assad’s government.

Amer, another son and former finance student who also travelled to Syria, is understood to be continuing to fight for the cause.

Prosecutor Ben Lloyd had told jurors that Deghayes’s speech was not given “innocently or naively”.

He said that by the defendant’s words and gestures he was encouraging people to undertake violence.

“The defendant’s speech demonstrates him to be an Islamic extremist. He is someone who believes in the use of violence in the cause of Islam," he said.

“Or, at the very least, he was reckless in giving his speech as to whether people would be encouraged.”

Updated: April 21, 2022, 4:13 PM
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