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British Muslim sentenced to Life Imprisonment for ISIS-Inspired Knife Attack

The judge said Syed must serve at least 15 years but he may never be released.

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Representational Image. Man in prison.
  • Nadir Syed was arrested hours after buying a chef’s knife in November 2014
  • The ‘fatwa’ that inspired Nadir Syed urged followers to rise up against westerners and “rig the roads with explosives for them
  • Syed had also tried to travel to Syria to fight with ISIS militants in January 2014

LONDON: Nadir Syed, the British Muslim man convicted of plotting an ISIS-inspired knife attack in London in November 2014 was sentenced to life imprisonment by a UK court on June 23.

He was arrested hours after buying a chef’s knife in November 2014, years before Remembrance Sunday – held on the second Sunday of November to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth soldiers in the two World Wars.
The judge said Syed must serve at least 15 years but he may never be released.

During his trial last year, Woolwich Crown Court heard how the 22-year-old from Southall area of west London had been inspired by ISIS leaders urging attacks on Western targets, including police and soldiers.

“I am satisfied that the attack was going to take place at a time close to Armistice Day. I am also satisfied that the victim was to be someone connected to Armistice Day, such as a popper seller,” Justice Saunders said.

“I have no doubt that he is dangerous. In my judgement if he was released from prison he would go and try and carry out what he failed to achieve in this case. He would set out to kill in furtherance of his beliefs,” he ruled during sentencing today.

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Prosecutor Max Hill had said Syed was actively searching for knives of “sufficient quality to source an attack”.

The court heard how Syedhad expressed admiration for the killers of soldier Lee Rigby, who had been killed on the street of London in May 2013, and how he shared violent footage of beheading from Syria and Iraq on social media.

The prosecution said the fatwa that inspired Nadir Syed urged followers to rise up against westerners and “rig the roads with explosives for them. Attack their bases. Raid their homes. Cut off their heads.”

“This fatwa, and the worldwide attacks that followed, inspired the defendant to plan his own attack in this country, emulating the attack on Lee Rigby carried out by Michael Adebolajo, who he considered to be a mujahid or Islamic fighter,” Hill said.

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The jury could not reach verdicts on two other men on trial – Haseeb Hamayoon, 29, and Yousaf Syed, 20 – who had all denied planning acts of terrorism. They were cleared at a retrial.

Syed had also tried to travel to Syria to fight with ISIS militants but had been stopped from leaving the country in January 2014, it emerged in court. (PTI)

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Strict action should be taken against such people. They should be sentenced to life imprisonment

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English-speaking ISIS Supporters Exploit Messaging App

English-speaking Islamic State supporters are refusing to give up

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English, ISIS, Supporters, Messaging
The Telegram logo is seen on a screen of a smartphone in this illustration, April 13, 2018. VOA

English-speaking Islamic State supporters are refusing to give up on the terror group’s ability to remain a force in Syria and Iraq, according to a new study that examined their behavior on the Telegram instant messaging service.

The report, “Encrypted Extremism: Inside the English-Speaking Islamic State Ecosystem on Telegram,” released Thursday by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, looked at 636 pro-Islamic State channels and groups in the 16 months from June 2017 through October 2018.

It found that even as the terror group was losing ground in Syria and Iraq to U.S.-backed forces, and even as IS leadership was encouraging followers to start looking to progress in IS provinces elsewhere, English-speaking supporters turned to Telegram to reinforce their faith in the caliphate.

“These are supporters that like to fight uphill battles,” report co-author Bennet Clifford told VOA. “What supporters are trying to do when they’re engaging with this conversation is attempt to shift the narrative away from loss and provide justifications for it.”

English, ISIS, Supporters, Messaging
FILE – An Islamic State flag is seen in this photo illustration. VOA

At the same time, these English-speaking supporters sought to amplify their beliefs, supplementing official IS propaganda with user-generated content while also increasing the distribution of instructional material on how to carry out attacks.

“I think it’s part of an attempt in some cases to spin the narrative their way,” Clifford added.

Attraction of Telegram

IS supporters first started flocking to Telegram, an instant messaging service that promises speed and encryption for private communications, in 2015 as social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook began a crackdown aimed at Islamic State’s often violent and gory propaganda.

Since then, IS has been hooked by Telegram’s promise that it will not disclose user data to government officials and by the service’s ability to let supporters organize and share large files, including video.

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“No other platforms appear to have developed the same balance of features, user-friendliness, and basic security that could warrant a new switch,” the report said.

That ease of use has long worried counterterrorism officials, who have watched as IS has used the online ecosystem to help plan and carry out the November 2015 attacks in Paris, attacks on a Christmas market in Berlin in December 2016 and the attack on the Reina nightclub in Istanbul just weeks later.

English-speaking facilitators

In those cases, the attackers appear to have been given instructions from IS officials in Syria and Iraq. But Telegram has given rise to several key English-speaking facilitators who have been operating on the periphery.

English, ISIS, Supporters, Messaging
FILE – Karen Aizha Hamidon, who allegedly worked to encourage several Indian militants last year to join the Islamic State group in the Middle East, is surrounded by reporters after attending a hearing at the Department of Justice in Manila, Philippines, Nov. 3, 2017. VOA

One of them, according to Clifford and co-author Helen Powell, was 36-year-old Karen Aizha Hamidon, who helped mobilize sympathizers from the United States to Singapore to join the terror group or its affiliates.

Hamidon, who was arrested by Philippine authorities in October 2017, has also been linked to efforts to establish an IS province in India.

Another key player, 34-year-old Ashraf al-Safoo, took a different approach before being arrested last October by the FBI in Chicago.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, al-Safoo was a key member of the Khattab Media Foundation, which used hacked social media accounts on platforms like Twitter to disseminate IS propaganda.

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“Much of the propaganda created and distributed by Khattab promotes violent jihad on behalf of ISIS and ISIS’s media office,” the Justice Department said in a statement using a different acronym for the militant group.

While both Hamidon and al-Safoo are now in custody, showing the ability of law enforcement to penetrate their Telegram operations, others are likely to replace them because of the ongoing need of Islamic State’s English-speaking supporters to communicate and find larger audiences.

“While there are a number of disadvantages for Islamic State supporters in the use of Telegram from a security perspective they’ll continue to do it because their balance of outreach and operational security,” Clifford said. “There’s not another alternative at this point in time.” (VOA)