Published: 09:45 GMT Daylight Time - Thursday 11 August 2011
Muslim extremist jailed for soliciting murder of MPs in UK
Country/Region: Europe, United Kingdom
A British Muslim man has been jailed for twelve years after encouraging people to murder MPs who voted in favour of the Iraq war.
Bilal Zaheer Ahmad exhorted others to "raise the knife of jihad" after Roshonara Choudhry, a female Islamic extremist, was jailed for trying to murder a Labour MP at his constituency surgery. Ahmad, a 24-year-old IT worker from Wolverhampton, is the first person to be found guilty of inciting religious hatred under new laws banning the publication of inflammatory material.
Ahmad praised university student Choudhry as a "heroine" for stabbing Stephen Timms in east London in May last year and called on other Muslims to follow in her footsteps by attacking and killing politicians who had voted to support the war in Iraq.
In a ranting message on the U.S.-based website RevolutionMuslim.com, a day after Choudhry was jailed for life , Ahmad posted a full list of MPs and provided an internet link to their personal contact details, suggesting that constituency surgeries were a good place to "encounter them in person".
The university graduate even posted a link to a supermarket website that listed cheap knives for sale, urging followers to use them in attacks. Ahmad also published Islamic writings claiming it is the duty of Muslims to carry out violent jihad and become martyrs for the faith.
He completed his online piece by offering prayers for jihadi fighters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and "in Parliament". Investigators discovered Ahmad also posted messages about Choudhry's actions on the social network Facebook and the website of a free newspaper. On Facebook, he posted a link to a YouTube video in which he said, "My message to the West. You are all going to die."
The judge, Mr Justice Royce, branded Ahmad "a viper in our midst" and "a corrosively dangerous threat" to the democratic process. He said he was sending out a "loud and clear" warning that Britain would not tolerate extremists preaching messages of hate and violence.
Anti-terrorist police welcomed the heavy sentence and said that those tempted to incite others to violence should heed the warning.
Born in Warwickshire, Ahmad holds both British and Pakistani passports and at the time of his arrest was working for an insurance firm in Telford. The court heard how Ahmad was first radicalised as a teenager after falling in with members of the now-banned organisation al-Muhajiroun at college. He supported both al-Muhajiroun and Islam4UK before they were banned by the government.
Jailing Ahmad at Bristol Crown Court, Mr Justice Royce said:
Politicians are often faced with difficult decisions. They don't always get it right.
They have to face up to serious criticism on occasions as part of the democratic process. The same can be said for bankers, press barons and judges.
It is important MPs can hold constituency surgeries without the threat of someone pulling out a knife and trying to kill them.
Moira Macmillan, senior lawyer in the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said:
The sentencing of Bilal Ahmad ... sends a warning to people who would seek to encourage violent extremism or to stir up hatred on the internet.
People are entitled to express their views on the internet and elsewhere. The law seeks to protect the right of all to freedom of speech as is necessary in a democratic society. However, Bilal Ahmad crossed the line from expressing views which some might find unwelcome into serious criminal behaviour, going far beyond what the law allows.
This is a serious offence which strikes at the heart of our democratic society and once I was satisfied the evidence was there, the public interest clearly required a prosecution.
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Read Daily Mail article You're a viper in our midst: Judge's attack on extremist...
Read the Crown Prosecution Service statment CPS statement on Bilal Ahmad