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Brother of prominent Islamic State preacher denies being ISIS member at Bahrain trial

DUBAI (Reuters) - The brother of a prominent Islamic State preacher on Tuesday denied he was a member of the militant group at a trial in Bahrain of 24 people accused of trying to set up an Islamic State branch in the Gulf Arab kingdom.

Abdullah Mubarak al-Bin’ali was arrested in April when he tried to leave Bahrain with someone else’s passport, the supreme criminal court heard.

His brother Turki Mubarak al-Bin’ali, who is around 30 years old, is one of Islamic State’s most visible preachers and ideologues, and appears regularly in its propaganda videos.

He authored a biography of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2013.

Abdullah and Turki are among a group of 24 people on trial for trying to set up a branch of Islamic State in Bahrain and promoting the overthrow of the Gulf Arab state’s monarchy.

Turki, last seen in Syria, is one of several being tried in absentia.

Abdullah said that for years, his brother Turki had been able to express himself freely in public speeches and on social media, and that he had also been able to travel unimpeded “within sight of the security services”.

“But after travelling to the conflict zone in Syria followed by a number of young people, charges against him have been transferred to his brother, and I deny these charges,” he added.

Abdullah was present in court on Tuesday, along with seven others of the total 24 facing charges, and the next hearing was set for February 2.

Reporting by Gulf Bureau; Writing by Hadeel Al Sayegh; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky