Online extremist sentenced to 12 years for soliciting murder of MPs
29 July 2011
An online extremist from Wolverhampton has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for soliciting the murder of MPs who voted for the Iraq War, and other terrorist-related offences.
Bilal Zaheer Ahmad, from Dunstall Hill, pleaded guilty last month (13/5/11) to using the website Revolutionmuslim.com to encourage users to 'raise the knife of jihad' against nearly 400 Members of Parliament who he claimed had supported the 2003 invasion.
The 24-year-old advised readers on the site's message board how to find out constituency surgery details and even provided a link to a Tesco online shopping site selling knives.
The web posting, which appeared on the radical US-based site, followed the conviction last November of Roshonara Choudhry for the attempted murder of MP Stephen Timms.
Choudhry, who stabbed the Labour member for East Ham in the stomach at a surgery meeting, was radicalised after viewing extremist material online - including some featured on Revolutionmuslim.com.
Ahmad praised her attack on Timms and said it should inspire others to follow suit.
Subsequent enquiries into the IT worker's online activity, following his arrest in November, uncovered more offences. This resulted in further guilty pleas, including one for intent to stir up religious hatred, against Hindus. This is the first successful conviction for this offence in the UK.
In addition, Ahmad admitted three counts of collecting information likely to be of use to a terrorist, including the al-Qaeda publication Inspire. This is the first successful prosecution for possessing the online jihadist magazine.
The investigation was carried out by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, whose officers said international cooperation was key in securing the conviction.
Head of WM CTU, Detective Chief Superintendent Kenny Bell said: "This was a challenging investigation for the unit because Ahmad, a serial online extremist, was posting on foreign-based websites. But the assistance received from agencies both in Britain and the United States meant we were able to identify, track and bring him to justice in a matter of days.
"This close cooperation also meant we were able to collect a substantial amount of evidence that was strong enough to secure a guilty plea, and therefore spare the tax payer the cost of a trial.
"Online extremism is an area of counter terrorism policing that we are increasingly focussed on.
"We need to protect vulnerable individuals from being urged to commit serious crimes by extremists and radicalisers who are exploiting the Internet.
"We can and will track offenders down."
Ahmed was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court.
Members of the public concerned about potential extremist material on the Internet can anonymously report sites to specialist officers at the national Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit. Details can be found at direct.gov.uk/reportingonlineterrorism
Details of the offences
1. SOLICITING TO MURDER, contrary to section 4 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861.
Bilal Zaheer Ahmad on the 4th November 2010 did solicit or encourage persons unknown to murder another person or persons namely Members of the United Kingdom Parliament.
2. PUBLISHING WRITTEN MATERIAL WITH INTENT TO STIR UP RELIGIOUS HATRED, contrary to section 29C of the Public Order Act 1986.
Bilal Zaheer Ahmad on the 20th Match 2009 published written material in an internet forum, namely a comment in a threat entitled 'Veil Banned in Rural College' on the forum pages of www.islamicawakening.com which was threatening, intending thereby to stir up religious hatred.
3. COLLECTING INFORMATION, contrary to section 58(1)(a) of the Terrorism Act 2000.
Bilal Zaheer Ahmad on or before 12th October 2010 collected information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, namely 'Inspire Magazine Fall Edition'.
4. COLLECTING INFORMATION, contrary to section 58(1)(a) of the Terrorism Act 2000.
Bilal Zaheer Ahmad on or before the 5th January 2010 collected information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, namely 'Zaad-e-Mujahid: Essential Provisions of a Mujahid'.
5. COLLECTING INFORMATION, contrary to section 58(1)(a) of the Terrorism Act 2000.
Bilal Zaheer Ahmad on or before 8th February 2010 collected information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, namely '39 ways to serve and participate in Jihad'.
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