Radical cleric asks Syria fighters to free Briton

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Associated Press

Posted on January 16, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 16 at 12:04 PM

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — A radical preacher deported from Britain who faces terrorism charges in his native Jordan has appealed to al-Qaida fighters in Syria to release a British humanitarian worker and refrain from killing people of different religious sects.

The 53 year old known as Abu Qatada spoke to reporters Thursday during a short break in his trial before a military court in Jordan's capital, Amman.

Addressing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, one of the main al-Qaida groups in Syria, he said: "If you respect me, please release the British activist and other hostages you may have immediately." He did not name the Briton.

He also urged the militants to "refrain from killing anyone — Muslim or non-Muslim — unless they take up arms against you first."

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