A former steward at Manchester United has been convicted of murdering an imam in an ISIS-inspired attack.
Mohammed Syeedy, 21, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 24 years for the murder of Jalal Uddin, 72, after being convicted by an unanimous verdict.
Uddin was bludgeoned to death with a hammer while he travelled home from the Jalalia Jaame mosque in Rochdale on 18 February this year.
Manchester crown court heard he had been under surveillance by Syeedy and his friends, who distrusted him because he practised a form of spiritual healing called Taweez.
Jurors learned Uddin had been labelled in text messages as "Voldemort" by Syeedy and his friends as they believed Taweez to be "black magic", The Guardian reported.
Syeedy was driving the car as he and another man, named in court as Mohammed Abdul Kadir, stalked Uddin as he made his way home on the night he was killed.
Kadir got out and attacked Uddin in the children's playground he had cut through. He then got back into the car and Syeedy drove off. Uddin was found by pedestrians but died from his injuries later that night.
Kadir fled to Turkey days after the murder and is now thought to be in Syria, Reuters reported.
Syeedy denied murder and manslaughter, and in court also denied supporting ISIS, despite extremist material being found on his phone.
Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole of Greater Manchester police said: “Although Mohammed Syeedy may not have delivered the fatal blow to Mr Uddin, it is clear that he played an integral role in the murder."
He added: “I hope the outcome here today will bring some closure to Jalal’s family and help them continue to rebuild their lives following their tragic loss.”
In a statement, Uddin's family said attending court and listening to the evidence of his last moments had been the hardest thing they had ever endured.
"But we take comfort from the fact that the evidence acknowledges that Jalal was a greatly respected man, a caring and loving soul," they said.
“Although Jalal was a Muslim who peacefully practised his faith, he had a love and respect for all religions, cultures, and creeds, and the fact that he was murdered by someone inspired by [ISIS] shows the true nature and barbarity of this organisation and those who serve it."
Matthew Champion is a weekend editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Matthew Champion at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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