Month: April 2015

Teenager Kazi Islam found guilty of terror grooming

A teenager has been convicted of grooming a vulnerable young man after being inspired by the 2013 killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

Kazi Islam was said to have used “flattery and threats” in exchanges on social media to try to persuade Harry Thomas to kill two soldiers and buy ingredients for a pipe bomb.

Islam, 18, of Newham, east London, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of preparing to commit acts of terrorism.

He claimed he was conducting research.

Islam was convicted by a majority of 10 to two and will be sentenced on 29 May.

He was remanded in custody and told by Judge Richard Marks that a custodial sentence was inevitable.

‘Very manipulative’

The trial was told Islam befriended the then 19-year-old Mr Thomas in October 2013 – five months after Fusilier Rigby was attacked in the street near Woolwich Barracks – after meeting him the previous year on an IT course at college.

He had pretended to sympathise with Mr Thomas over a break-up with a girlfriend.

Kazi Islam - Terror trial Old Bailey - court drawing
Islam groomed his friend over social media and messenger services

But a series of exchanges on BlackBerry Messenger and social media sites were uncovered when police raided the house in east London where Islam lived with his family, jurors were told.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Thomas, who has learning difficulties, described Islam as a “very, very manipulative person” but said he had no intention of carrying out his requests.

He said: “He makes out he’s this really kind person because that’s how he comes across at first but deep inside he’s evil.”

Mr Thomas added: “He’s not scared to go to prison, he told me that. And he says he’ll end up in a better place for the crimes he’s committed. He said his God will look after him and think he’s done a really good thing.”

Commander Richard Walton, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “We continue to appeal to anyone who may have knowledge of people with similar intentions. The earliest we can intervene to prevent terrorism the better.

“We also remind the public that there is currently a need to protect vulnerable or impressionable adults or children from this brand of Islamic extremism.”

‘Ruthlessly exploited’

Prosecutor Annabel Darlow QC had told the court that Islam had tried to encourage Mr Thomas to kill a soldier by telling him innocent children were being murdered by military forces.

Ms Darlow told the jury: “Thomas was a vulnerable, not particularly bright young man who was desperate to impress Islam and to try and forge some sort of friendship with him.

“Islam ruthlessly exploited to the utmost Thomas’s vulnerability and obvious wish to try and ingratiate himself with Islam.”

The plot was said to have been unwittingly sabotaged by Mr Thomas, who failed to buy any of the right ingredients for a bomb and revealed what was going on to “a few friends” .

Giving evidence, Islam told the jury he had talked to Mr Thomas about getting the ingredients for a bomb as an “experiment” in radicalisation and “would have told him what I was doing” if he had actually gone ahead with the purchases.

While the court heard he had also downloaded a document on explosives himself, Islam said his interest in extremism was “purely for research purposes and to understand the political side of my religion”.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32521780

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Lostwithiel School pupils banned from mosque visit over safety fears

 FAITH FEAR: The mosque in Exeter which pupils will visit as part of an educational trip.Kat Smith said the trip was an opportunity for children to learn about different faiths.

  • The interior of the Exeter mosque

WORRIED parents have banned their children from visiting a mosque amid concerns over their safety.

 It has been claimed more than 10 per cent of parents whose children attend Lostwithiel School have stopped their children going on a school trip to the mosque in Exeter.

The school said some parents were also concerned about the teaching of Islam as part of the religious education curriculum. It said the trip to the mosque and Exeter Cathedral was an opportunity to learn about different faiths.

One parent, who didn’t wish to be named, said: ” We have grave concerns about the children’s safety during the trip due to the horrific events that occur every day.

“We have therefore decided not to send our children on this trip. This decision is not one based on ignorance or racial or religious beliefs, but one based purely on safety concerns.”

The school wants to take 91 children from Years 3 to 6 to Exeter on May 7 as part of their religious education.

Head teacher Carolyn Huxley said: “Our hope from the visit to the mosque is that children will be given a view as to what are the values and beliefs of a ‘British Muslim’. This trip will show the children the views of extremists are not a true reflection of Islam as a religion.”

Following the visit to the cathedral the children will tour the mosque where they will observe a congregational prayer and be able to ask questions.

The school said the pupils would observe the appropriate dress code, taking off their shoes before they entered the mosque and wearing trousers and long sleeves.

Kat Smith, the chairman of governors, said: “This is the first time pupils from the school have visited a mosque and it’s an exciting opportunity for them to learn about different faiths and ensure that they’re aware of the diverse nature of modern Britain.

“Because of recent news reports about extremist groups, such as ISIS, that identify themselves with Islam, a small number of parents have expressed concerns about the trip and the teaching of Islam in school.

“In response, the school held a special assembly with children to discuss these issues, and the head teacher has met and sent letters to parents with specific concerns.”

However, the unnamed parent criticised the way the assembly was conducted and claimed that children who were not going were “singled out” by asking the children who were going to stand up after assembly.

“The sitting non-attendees were then asked individually why they were not going on the trip,” said the parent.

“This is not a decision the children have made, so discriminating against these children in this fashion is disgraceful, unacceptable and unprofessional.”

The school said it had arranged for parents to meet David Hampshire, who has been the Cornwall county advisor for RE for the past 18 years and who produced the agreed syllabus.

Read more: http://www.cornishguardian.co.uk/Banned-mosque-visit/story-26402398-detail/story.html#ixzz3Yk3oIwyK

ISIS Encyclopedia of Terror: Who’s behind it, what it’s used for and how ‘keyboard warriors’ can become killers

A high-tech guide may seem loosely connected to the bloody march of the Islamic State, but these documents plainly illustrate the mysterious path from an angry tweet to a real-life atrocity

On the face of it, document-sharing sites are apparently innocuous pages which allows users to publish lengthy pieces of writing online for free.

But among the reviews of classic cars, art exhibitions and banal gibberish lurks something far more sinister.

A full-scale terrorism ‘how-to’ guide, compiled by ISIS, is hidden on one website.

It is already known that terrorists have used this page to blog and chatter.

But we can reveal that over the past few years, Islamic State experts are assembling an exhaustive – and constantly updated – dossier of information for undercover jihadis based in the West.

The Mirror Online can reveal the secrets of this cache which is helping British ‘sleeper cells’ stay one step ahead of the intelligence services.

Astonishingly, much of this dangerous material is hidden in plain sight, available to anyone who knows where to look.

ISIS identifies potential sympathisers, then simply points them in the right direction.

Mirror Online was alerted to the files by a new splinter cell of notorious hacktivist group Anonymous, called Global Vigilance.

Our source was able to pinpoint the location of the cache after eight months of monitoring the digital movements of prominent ISIS figures.

Who is behind the ISIS terror library?


At first glance, the documents look like dry, technical tracts, but in fact they reveal tactics of vital importance to any terrorist or ISIS sympathiser living undercover in the UK.

Crucially, the expertise they impart can – and very likely already have – helped build the vast body count on which the Islamic State is founded.

The files are written in Arabic by a variety of authors, many of whom refer to themselves as “technical brothers”.

The language is so simple that it is easily translated by running it through free software.

This information will be familiar to computer experts, but is often very difficult to understand and rarely collected in the same place.

The terror library contains simple step-by-step guides which show extremists how to erase their digital footprint – the first crucial skill in a movement which uses the internet to radicalise recruits.

“With the rapid development of ‘information jihad’ and an increase in the amount of official and unofficial material produced by jihadi organisations, many security holes have appeared which benefit the enemy,” one ISIS technical expert wrote in the documents.

How ISIS ‘sleeper cells’ remain undetected in the West


An ISIS Defector speaks about Jihadi JohnISIS supporters have many ways to hide their identities
ISIS supporters are first shown how to mask the unique IP address used to connect to the internet – an easy way of tracing the user of a computer.

They are also shown how to disable the tracking software built into most modern smartphones.

Undercover jihadis are encouraged to use super-secure communications techniques which encrypt messages so they cannot be intercepted – and are told exactly how to do so with mapped-out routes similar to those you may see in books such as The Internet for Dummies.

If used correctly, the terror manual’s instructions boast, “it would be impossible for hackers to access important information on the Muslim brothers”.

An increasingly key weapon here is software which allows terrorists to access a lawless underbelly of the internet called the ‘Dark Web’.

Terrorists now lurk here out of sight, using secret messaging services to plot atrocities and access information including bomb-making guides.

Extremists are also offering supporters the chance to “fund the jihad anonymously” using virtual currencies.

One document also describes how to start an account with a Russian social network, which can be used to contact ISIS central command in the Middle East. This network is freely available and does not require ‘Dark Net’ expertise for access.

This social network is known to be popular among extremists is because it remains one of the few major services which is not owned and operated from America, which convinces terrorists that it is less vulnerable to snooping by Western intelligence agenices.

How to beat the spies


ISIS supporters warn some clocks could actually be surveillance devices
One document warns extremists of the spy devices they should look out for, ranging from cameras hidden inside clocks to tiny bugs which can which be drilled into walls.

“The devices are available to enemies of religion and constitute a danger to the brothers – especially prisoners,” the unnamed author wrote.

The author then gives advice on how to “jam” wi-fi signals – which many surveillance devices now use to transmit audio or video.

Other guides detail how to scrub information linked to digital devices which has the potential to unmask ISIS operations.

You and I can be traced by security services very simply via the gadgets we use every day. Mobile phones, computers and digital cameras all record details of how and where they have been used, including times, dates and even locations.

This information known as metadata – a word which was almost unknown before the Snowden revelations.

If left untouched, these details could give security services vital clues in tracking down ISIS operatives at home and abroad.

Jihadis commonly erase metadata from the files they publish particularly in videos of hostages, because it could allow their enemies to launch rescue attempts.

All the images and files uploaded to document-sharing sites

Sounds dry? This simple technique has many all-too lethal examples.

Intelligence agencies tracking the executioner known as ‘Jihadi John’ desperately analysed the beheading videos for any hint of metadata which would help identify the killer and reveal his location.

But the videos are scrubbed clean.

How much more dangerous information is out there?
This details the communications apps which ISIS supporters are warned to steer clear of
Mirror Online has already analysed hundreds of pages of in-depth technology lessons – but there are hundreds of gigabytes more.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said a spokesman for Global Vigilance.

“The training material brings home the level of sophistication they possess.”

Despite their advanced encryption techniques the extremists cannot become totally invisible.

The need to recruit makes them vulnerable.

An security source said: “Terrorists have always found ways to hide their communications and technology offers a new option.

“If you look at open websites and social media , this stuff [terror training information] is widely available and it’s being read and propagated online all the time.

“That spread of information is a new challenge to keep up with.

“However, it’s worth saying that terrorists have always tried to communicate secretly. For example, those in Afghanistan, often resorted to hand written messages, which were difficult to intercept.”

To report online terrorism material visit www.gov.uk/report-terrorism

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/technology-science/technology/isis-encyclopedia-terror-whos-behind-5554177

Blackburn boy, 14, in court over Australia terror ‘plot’

Greater Manchester Police officer

A 14-year-old boy from Blackburn is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday, accused of inciting terrorism in Australia.

The boy is accused of inciting another person to carry out an attack at an Anzac Day event with the aim of killing or seriously injuring people.

He is also accused of inciting another person to behead someone in Australia.

Anzac Day is commemorated on 25 April in memory of Australian and New Zealand soldiers who have died in war.

The boy, who has not been named for legal reasons, is believed to be the youngest person to be charged with terrorism offences in the UK to date, according to BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford.

He was charged after officers from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit and Lancashire Constabulary executed a search of an address in Blackburn on 2 April.

Officers had examined a number of electronic devices, and uncovered communication between a teenager in Blackburn and a man in Australia, said a statement from Greater Manchester Police.

Information was subsequently passed to Australian authorities.

Anzac Day was established to mark the anniversary of the start of the Gallipoli campaign in World War One and this year marks 100 years since that day.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32443481

Tower Hamlets election fraud mayor Lutfur Rahman removed from office

An east London mayor has been removed from office and a poll declared void after he was found guilty of electoral fraud.

An Election Commissioner concluded Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman breached election rules and must vacate his post immediately.

Four voters alleged he used “corrupt and illegal practices” in last year’s election, which must now be re-run.

Mr Rahman, who denied any wrong-doing, has been banned from standing again.

At the special High Court hearing, Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey also ordered Mr Rahman to pay £250,000 in costs.

One of Mr Rahman’s aides, Alibor Choudhury, was also found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices.

Tower Hamlets First, Mr Rahman’s party, said the judgement was a “shock” and it was seeking further legal advice in relation to a judicial review.

Mr Mawrey – who sat as a judge – said the mayor had “driven a coach and horses through election law and didn’t care”.

In the Election Court judgement, he said the effect of his ruling that Mr Rahman’s election was void meant it was as if the election “had never taken place” and he had not lawfully been mayor since he was re-elected for a second term on 24 May 2014.

Andy Erlam, Angela Moffat and Azmal Hussein,
Petitioners Andy Erlam, Angela Moffat and Azmal Hussein accused Lutfur Rahman of electoral fraud

Mr Mawrey also added: “The evidence laid before this court…has disclosed an alarming state of affairs in Tower Hamlets.

“This is not the consequence of the racial and religious mix of the population, nor is it linked to any ascertainable pattern of social or other deprivation.

“It is the result of the ruthless ambition of one man.”

Mr Mawrey also described Bangladesh-born Mr Rahman as an “evasive and discursive witness whose evidence was untruthful on occasion” and suggested he had played “race” and “religious” cards.

line break

Analysis

By Karl Mercer, Political Correspondent, BBC London News

Mr Rahman’s career in politics looks like it is over, unless he successfully challenges today’s ruling.

But the implications of the case could be felt much wider than a courtroom on The Strand. How will the Bengali community in Tower Hamlets, many of whom voted for Mr Rahman, react? What will the judgement’s impact be on community cohesion?

And for the government – should the Law Commission be asked to look at making it easier to challenge elections if there is a suspicion of fraud?

It took four local individuals in this case to risk a legal bill of hundreds of thousands of pounds to get this election overturned.

The re-run poll is likely to be on either the 7 or 11 June.

Grey line

Mr Rahman ran a “ruthless and dishonest campaign to convince the electorate his rival John Biggs was a racist”, Mr Mawrey said.

After the ruling, Labour London Assembly member, Mr Biggs, said Mr Rahman and his allies had “robbed the people of Tower Hamlets of the free and fair mayoral election they deserved and betrayed everyone in our community who trusted and voted for him”.

The group of voters who brought the action was headed by Andy Erlam, who stood as a councillor. He said it was “a fantastic result for democracy”.

John Biggs
Labour candidate John Biggs was falsely branded a racist

The four voters mounted the legal challenge under the 1983 Representation of the People Act.

Their lawyers made a series of allegations, including “personation” in postal voting and at polling stations and ballot paper tampering.

The Election Commissioner upheld a number of the allegations, including:

  • Voting fraud: ballots were double-cast or cast from false addresses
  • False statements made against Mr Rahman’s rival Mr Biggs
  • Bribery: large amounts were given to organisations who were “totally ineligible or who failed to meet the threshold for eligibility”
  • Treating: providing free food and drink to encourage people to vote for Mr Rahman
  • Spiritual influence: voters were told that it was their duty as Muslims to vote for Mr Rahman. Mr Mawrey cited a letter signed by 101 Imams in Bengali stating it was people’s “religious duty” to vote.

Lawyers for Mr Rahman, who was re-elected for Tower Hamlets First last May, described the claims as “invention”, “exaggeration” and “in some cases downright deliberately false allegations”.

The Election Judgement said Mr Choudhury, who was also found guilty of illegal practices, must immediately vacate his seat as a councillor and a new by-election must be held in the Stepney ward.

In a statement, Tower Hamlets First said: “The Mayor strongly denies any wrongdoing and had full confidence in the justice system and so this result has been surprising to say the least.”

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said the Election Court’s judgement justified his decision to send commissioners into the council last year to take over some operations.

He said: “This judgement vindicates our action to intervene.”

He added the judgement against Mr Rahman could mean extra powers being handed to commissioners.

The Met Police said it takes allegations of electoral fraud and malpractice extremely seriously and would take time to consider the election judgement.

Speaking to BBC London 94.9, former London mayor, Ken Livingston, said he found the result of the Election Court “worrying”.

He said: “Let’s wait and see if he is convicted of anything. The decision of the voters to put Lutfur Rahman there shouldn’t be overturned by an unelected bureaucrat unless he is arrested.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-32428648

Terrorism suspect Kazi Islam ‘was researching extremism’

Kazi Islam - Terror trial Old Bailey - court drawing

A terrorism suspect accused of grooming a vulnerable man so he would kill soldiers has said his interest in extremism was for “research purposes”.

Kazi Islam allegedly tried to persuade 19-year-old Harry Thomas to buy bomb ingredients and carry out an attack like the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby.

He told the Old Bailey he tried to brainwash Mr Thomas as an “experiment” to see if it could be done.

Mr Islam, 18, from east London, denies preparing to commit acts of terrorism.

The prosecution said his plan was stopped when his home was raided last July and his computer and two mobile phones were seized.

Giving evidence in his defence, Mr Islam said his interest in extremism was “purely for research purposes and to understand the political side of my religion”.

‘Brainwashed and radicalised’

“I was studying the reasons behind it. It was mainly the illegal occupation, as extremists would put it, of Muslim lands in Iraq, Afghanistan,” he said.

He said he wanted to find out why Fusilier Rigby had been murdered outside Woolwich Barracks in May 2013.

Mr Islam said his “experiment” with Mr Thomas was inspired by Nicky Reilly, who was behind a failed suicide bomb attack in Exeter – and who, like Mr Thomas, has Asperger’s syndrome.

“When I saw what he [Reilly] had done I wanted to conduct an experiment to see how this individual had become radicalised,” he said.

“Previously he had no belief, no religious convictions, and I wanted to know how he became brainwashed and radicalised and this made me choose Harry to be a placebo to conduct the experiment.”

He added: “I just wanted to see if he would succumb to it. I was waiting for him to say if he had made purchase of the materials that were discussed and had he done so, I would have told him ‘no’, I would have told him what I was doing.”

Extremist material ‘silly’

Asked why he downloaded a document called “How to make Semtex”, Mr Islam said: “I was doing research.

“I was looking at terrorist atrocities, foiled plots in the UK. I was studying about how easily accessible these materials are – I did not have the intention of making it.”

He described extremist material he found online as “silly” and said he was “laughing at it”.

Earlier in the trial, prosecutors said Mr Islam befriended and then “ruthlessly exploited” Mr Thomas in an attempt to make him buy ingredients for a pipe bomb and kill two soldiers.

The case continues.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32435189

Blackburn boy, 14, charged over Australia terrorism ‘plot’

Greater Manchester Police officer

A 14-year-old boy from Blackburn has been charged by UK prosecutors with two counts of inciting terrorism in Australia.

The boy is accused of inciting another person to carry out an attack at an Anzac Day event with the aim of killing or seriously injuring people.

He is also accused of inciting another person to behead someone in Australia.

Anzac Day is commemorated on 25 April in memory of Australian and New Zealand soldiers who have died in war.

The boy, who has not been named for legal reasons, is believed to be the youngest person to be charged with terrorism offences in the UK to date, according to BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford.

He was charged after officers from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit and Lancashire Constabulary executed a search of an address in Blackburn on 2 April.

Officers had examined a number of electronic devices, and had uncovered communication between a teenager in Blackburn and a man in Australia, said a statement from Greater Manchester Police.

Information was subsequently passed to Australian authorities.

The boy will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Anzac Day was established to mark the anniversary of the start of the Gallipoli campaign in World War One and this year marks 100 years since that day.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32439190