Radical preacher rejects religious tax in Syria

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — A radical Jordanian preacher deported from Britain who is on trial on terrorism charges says al-Qaida fighters in Syria should not impose an Islamic tax on Christians under their control.

Abu Qatada, 52, who is described as a senior al-Qaida figure in Europe with ties to the late Osama bin Laden, spoke to reporters during a break in his trial on Thursday.

His remarks follow reports on militant Websites that the Nusra Front, one of two main al-Qaida-allied groups in Syria, was considering the tax, also known as Zakat, for Christians.

When asked, Abu Qatada said the militants do not yet fully control the areas they are fighting in and should not impose such a tax.