LONDON (AP) — A British man was sentenced Friday to at least 24 years in prison for the murder of a Muslim cleric who practiced a form of faith healing condemned by the Islamic State group.
A jury at Manchester Crown Court found 21-year-old Mohammed Syeedy guilty of murdering Bangladeshi imam Jalal Uddin. Uddin was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in February in a children's playground in Rochdale, northwest England.
Prosecutors said Syeedy did not carry out the attack, but helped conduct surveillance of Uddin and acted as getaway driver for the killer, 24-year-old Mohammed Kadir.
They said Syeedy was a "knowing participant" in the murder. The pair targeted 71-year-old Uddin because he practiced a form of Islamic healing involving amulets that IS considers black magic, prosecutors said.
Kadir fled Britain after the killing and authorities think he may be in Syria.
Judge David Maddison sentenced Syeedy, a former steward at Manchester United's soccer stadium, to life in prison with no chance of parole for 24 years.
The judge said Uddin was a "gentle, well-respected man" who had been brutally killed.
Uddin's family said in a statement that he had been a Muslim with "a love and respect for all religions, cultures and creeds." They said his murder by IS-inspired attackers "shows the true nature and barbarity of this organization and those who serve it."