Tarik Chadlioui is fighting extradition to Spain over terror charges has denied the sermons he posts online encourage terrorism
A UK-based imam accused of trying to recruit people to fight for Islamic State has been an ‘anti-terrorist’ preacher for decades, his lawyers claimed in court today.
Tarik Chadlioui, 43, was one of six people arrested across Europe on June 28 at the request of investigators on the Mediterranean island of Majorca.
The Belgian national is wanted by Spainish authorities who allege he recorded videos encouraging people to fight for the extremist forces in Syria, during two visits to the Balearic island in 2014 and 2015.
He is said to be the spiritual leader of the jihadist network that inspired Omar Mostefai, one of the Bataclan bombers.
But an extradition hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday heard claims the father-of-eight had spent years trying to prevent young Muslims going to fight.
Wearing Islamic robes and a skull cap, he listened via an Arabic interpreter as his barrister Malcolm Hawkes said his client did not deny uploading videos, but that they were seeking to help prevent young Muslims going to fight in Syria.
Father-of-eight Chadlioui, who recently settled in Birmingham, says he discourages extremism
The lawyer said: ‘He is an anti-terrorist and has been for the best part of 20 years.
‘He has uploaded thousands of videos to YouTube. This is what he does, he is an anti-terrorist preacher.’
Chadlioui, who also uses the name Tarik Ibn Ali, was arrested at his home in the Sparkhill area of Birmingham in the early hours of June 28.
He faces a single charge of collaboration with, or membership of, an armed group.
Chadlioui is accused of being part of a network who radicalised Bataclan attacker Omar Mostefai
If convicted he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
The Spanish interior ministry said four people had been arrested in Palma de Mallorca while another was arrested in Germany as part of the same investigation.
Spanish authorities claim they were all part of an organised group linked to the Al Fagar de Inca mosque in Mallorca.
The Spanish interior ministry has previously accused Chadlioui of being the spiritual leader of the group and said that alleged members had been under investigation since 2015.
They allege Chadlioui made three videos entitled ‘Tufiq went to Syria’, which were pro-jihadi.
He claims they are anti-jihadi, especially when viewed with a fourth related video he has never posted to YouTube, the court heard.
Chadlioui has lived in the UK for two years and his children are aged between 18 and four months, the court was told.
He is contesting his extradition under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees a right to a family life.
90 revellers were murdered at the theatre when terrorists carried out their attack in 2015
He is also contesting the validity of the European Arrest Warrant.
Mr Hawkes alleged that while Spanish authorities had interviewed Chadlioui it had been rushed and the evidence not fully examined, leaving the case not strong enough to warrant his extradition.
Mr Hawkes said: ‘It’s disproportionate therefore, to seek his extradition at this stage.
‘It’s a clear … interference with his right to a family life. For these reasons I would urge you to discharge this warrant.’
Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said a ruling in the case would be handed down on October 3. Chadlioui was remanded in custody.
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