Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Muslim radical who sold extremist books and DVDs to 7/7 bombers is jailed for three years

An Islamic bookseller has been jailed for three years for distributing extremist material that 'encouraged terrorism' and found its way on to the bookshelves of terrorists including 7/7 bomber Mohammed Sidique Khan.

Islamic studies graduate Ahmed Faraz was convicted of disseminating radical material, including an Al Qaeda training manual, bomb-making instructions and 'disgusting' footage of beheadings, including executed Brit Ken Bigley.  

Siddique Khan's wife was found trying to throw away a bag containing books from the store the day after the 7/7 attacks. 

The test case is the first significant conviction under new terrorist legislation and involved a lengthy police investigation. 

Faraz, 32, sold the books and DVDs from his bookstore, Maktabah, in Sparkhill, Birmingham, and later from a website which got millions of hits worldwide. 

He was first arrested in 2007 and closed the bookstore, but reopened it online in 2008. He was later re-arrested.

He claimed during the ten-week trial that the material was for academic research, but the jury convicted him of 11 of 15 counts against him.

The father-of-five had initially faced 30 counts of possessing and distributing extremist material, but the judge directed the jury to return not guilty verdicts for eight counts, as none were sold following the legislation being enforced.

Other counts have been left to lie on file. 

Faraz was not accused of being part of a specific plot, but Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said many of the books published by Maktabah found their way on to the bookshelves of terrorists - including 7/7 bomber Khan and Atlantic airlines bomb plotters.

One of the convicted airline plotters was heard quoting from a Muktabah publication - 21st Century Crusades - in his suicide video.

The DVD contained footage of the twin towers attacks and other attacks on U.S. military vehicles

Going through each publication in detail, Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said they 'encouraged terrorism', and provided an 'endorsement of Osama Bin Laden'. 

One of the books Faraz was found guilty of disseminating was an edition of Milestones, an important text in the development of Islamist political thinking in the 20th century.

The book, by Sayyid Qutb, is freely available and is studied widely - but a special edition of Milestones sold by Faraz was developed specifically to promote extremist ideology. 

It was found on the bookshelf of the Atlantic airline bomb plotters.
Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said at Kingston Crown Court: 'Maktabah was the only known commercial operation selling this wide-ranging "jihadist" literature. 

'It's no surprise that your books were found on the shelves of many of those convicted of serious terrorist offences. 

'It was grossly irresponsible to publish them in the way they were designed to appeal, not to academics, but to young people, and young people who had recently converted to Islam or become more religiously inclined as they got older. 

'These books did glorify terrorism, the killing and injuring of civilians and implied, either by silence or otherwise, approval of such atrocities as the 9/11 or 7/7 attacks. 

'How any publisher of books and other media could disseminate this material after 9/11 and, in the case of Milestones, a few months after 7/7 and 21/7 is beyond me.

'I detect no sign of remorse and acceptance from you that you have in fact gone beyond the limits.  

'You maintain your insistence in your belief that your conduct was justified and that the laws made to prosecute you bear a resemblance to laws passed in Nazi Germany.'

Friends and family in the public gallery wept as sentence was passed. 

Faraz appeared fidgety and nervous, but remained impassive as he was handed the three-year jail term. 

Four of the counts related to 'computer files containing useful material to those who would carry out terrorist attacks'. These included an Al Qaeda training manual and bomb-making instructions.

The judge also ordered everything seized by the police during the investigation to be destroyed.

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