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January 25, 2003

Muslim cleric "promised boys virgins for martyrdom"

Promises, promises
LONDON (Reuters) - A London-based Muslim cleric accused of urging his followers to murder non-believers, promised teenage Muslim boys 72 virgins in paradise if they died as religious martyrs, a court has heard.

Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal, 39, denies five charges of incitement to murder by encouraging others to kill "enemies of Islam". He could face life imprisonment if convicted.

Faisal, based in central London, is also charged with stirring up racial hatred through use of threatening and abusive words and with video and audio tapes in the four years before his arrest by anti-terrorist police last year.

Prosecutor David Perry told the jury at London`s Old Bailey that Faisal urged followers to wage a Jihad, or Holy War, against non believers -- specifically Americans, Hindus, Jews, Britons and other Europeans -- by terrorising and killing them.