Victim Jalal Uddin was allegedly murdered by ISIS supporters Mohammed Hussain Syeedy, 22, and Mohammed Abdul Kadir, 24, with the court hearing the two men had stalked their victim before cornering him in the park outside of Manchester.
The men followed the 71-year-old on his way to the car as he left his local mosque in the Wardleworth area of town after evening prayers. His face and skull were bashed in the attack.
Syeedy, who is on trial at the Manchester Crown Court, has denied the murder. His alleged accomplice Kadir has reportedly fled abroad.
Prosecutor Paul Greaney QC told the court that Mr Uddin was a practitioner of a form of Islamic healing called Ruqya, which involved the use of charms.
He said: “ISIS regards this practice as black magic and adheres to the view that those who engage in it deserve severe punishment, even death.
“Who hated a decent man like Jalal Uddin with such virulence?”
He continued: “The answer to that important question is to be found in the twisted ideology of ISIS sometimes known as the Islamic State.”
The court heard that the elderly victim had been found in a Rochdale park, near a child’s playground, with severe fractures to his skull.
A post-mortem later showed the 71-year-old man had suffered multiple injuries to his head and face with the bones of his face badly fractured.
The attack was so violent that prosecutors said Jalal Uddin’s brain itself had been damaged with his bashed body found by two young girls at the South Street park just before 9pm on February 18, 2016, as they entered the park.
One of the girls’ older brothers desperately tried to keep the Imam alive while the children waited for emergency services to arrive. Uddin was taken to hospital but died a short time later.
The court heard he died: “without ever regaining consciousness and without ever being able to say who had attacked him, or why.”
The court further heard that the accused pair had begun stalking their victim after discovering he was a practitioner of Ruqya in 2015. Mr Greaney told the court that the “events reached a climax” on the February night.
He said: “As Jalal Uddin entered the park on the final leg of his journey home, Kadir left the defendant’s car and ran in after this man in his seventies, attacking him with a weapon, probably as I have said, a hammer striking blows to his head and face.”
He said it was likely that Syeedy would argue that he did not know Kadir would murder the Imam and therefore claim he was not involved in the murder. He said the crime had been committed due to “hatred and intolerance”.
Mr Greaney further argued that any suggestions that the death was a “robbery gone wrong” were incorrect.
He said: “On the contrary they were obviously the result of an attack that was planned, motivated by hatred and by a desire to humiliate Jalal Uddin and undoubtedly intended to kill or at the very least cause really serious harm.”
Locals were able to identify Mr Uddin with many of them knowing him as “Qari Saab”, which is a term of respect.