Friend of man involved in murder of Rochdale imam “surprised” at allegations

Mohammed Hussain Syeedy

The neighbour of a man involved in the murder of a Rochdale imam earlier this year told the jury the accused is “a kind and thoughtful young man”.

A lifelong friend of an alleged ISIS supporter said to have murdered an imam told police he was “very surprised” to learn the accused could be involved, a jury has heard.

Mohammed Hussain Syeedy, 21, is said to have played a key role in supporting another man to bludgeon Imam Jalal Uddin, 71, to death because they considered he was practising “black magic”.

The Crown claims Syeedy intentionally assisted and encouraged Mohammed Kadir, 24, to attack Mr Uddin in a children’s play area in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, on the evening of February 18.

The pair are claimed to have developed a “hatred” of the Bangladeshi national because he used a form of healing involving amulets, known as taweez, said to bring good fortune.

Manchester Crown Court has heard that ISIS disapproves of the practice and believes those who engage in it should be severely punished, even executed in some cases.

Giving evidence last Wednesday, student Mohammed Qaahar, 21, told the jury he had known his neighbour Syeedy since childhood.

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He said he spoke to him in the late evening of February 18 as people gathered in the street near the murder scene.

Imam Jalal Uddin was murdered in Rochdale on Feb 18
Imam Jalal Uddin was murdered in Rochdale on Feb 18

Syeedy told him “nobody knows yet” what happened to Mr Uddin and the defendant’s behaviour appeared “normal”, Mr Qaahar said.

He explained he knew Mr Uddin “quite well” as he taught the Qur’an to his sisters at his grandfather’s home.

Mr Qaahar agreed with Icah Peart QC, defending Syeedy, that the accused was “a young man who spent a lot of his time working on behalf of the community”.

He also agreed Syeedy did a “great deal” of charitable work and confirmed he, Syeedy and others had taken part in door-to-door collections to raise money for humanitarian efforts in Syria.

Mr Peart asked: “Would you accept he is a kind and thoughtful young man?”

The witness replied: “Yes.”

Mr Peart said: “You would agree that he is not a violent young man?”

“Yes,” said Mr Qaahar.

The barrister went on: “He is not known to lose his temper?”

Mr Qaahar said: “No, not at all.”

The jury heard the witness made a statement to police in which he said: “I am very surprised that Syeedy could be involved because I have known him all my life and I cannot believe he had it in him to do such a thing.”

Mr Uddin suffered multiple injuries to his head and face in the attack, thought to have involved a hammer, in South Street after he visited his local mosque for evening prayers.

Three days later, Kadir, of Chamber Road, Oldham, boarded a flight from Manchester to Copenhagen in Denmark followed by a connecting flight to Istanbul.

His whereabouts are unknown although it is thought he could have travelled to Syria, the jury has previously been told.

The prosecution case is expected to close on Thursday morning.

Syeedy, of Ramsay Street, Rochdale, denies murder.

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