Sunderland engineer who posted Islamic State propaganda on Faceook found guilty of terrorism charges

The trial was heard at Newcastle Crown Court
The trial was heard at Newcastle Crown Court

A Facebook user who posted Islamic State propaganda videos on his news feed, despite repeated bans from the social media site, has been convicted of terrorism offences.

Engineer Abdulrahman Alcharbati had been repeatedly warned that his "extremist" postings about the conflict in Syria contravened the social media site's rules and had his account suspended on occasions.

Newcastle Crown Court heard, despite the bans, the 32-year-old married dad, who is originally from Syria, posted six "terrorist publications" on his profile, which had 5,000 "friends", in the course of one day in February last year.

The court heard the "terrorist" videos showed men in military uniform being murdered in a "revenge attack", praised "martyrs", showed "happy children" being raised and trained in Syria and promoted "suicide bombers".

Prosecutors say the videos could "encourage the watcher to commit acts of terrorism".

After counter-terrorism police raided his home at Noble Street, Sunderland, officers seized his phone and found a bomb-making manual titled "Easy Explosives".

The shocking, 120 page document contained advice for bombmakers which included handling their device "gently and softly", like a "creature", while it is being manufactured.

It also warned against making any mistake while making an explosive device, as it "could be your last one".

Alcharbati told police "I just posted the news" and has been on trial accused of six offences of dissemination of a terrorist publication and one of possession of a document containing terrorist information.

After less than three hours deliberation, juror found him guilty of all charges.

Alcharbati, who had told jurors he suffers from mental illness and believes he is Jesus Christ, a Messiah or Prophet, shook his head as the foreman read the guilty verdicts.

The former Sunderland University student has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced in December, after further assessment by psychiatrists.

Judge Paul Sloan QC told him: "You will be produced at court on that day, you must leave your cell and travel to court.

"If you refuse to do so, sentence can proceed in your absence.

"You will understand, the face I am adjourning sentence is not an indication of the sentence that will be imposed.

"It will be an immediate, substantial custodial sentence or, if the doctors indicate and I conclude I concur with their conclusions, there will be a hospital order disposal."

The court heard two psychiatrists who have already examined Alcharbati do not agree on a diagnosis so a third expert will be brought in as a "final vote" on his mental state.

Prosecutor Dan Pawson-Pounds told the court Alcharbati had put just under 400 different postings on his profile page between Januuary 24 and February 26 last year.

Jurors heard 70 of the posts referred to Islamic State and 40 directly referred to martyrdom.

Mr Pawson-Pounds told the court: "Not only did the defendant know he was posting extremist material at the time, he was told he was doing so, in clear terms, by the administrators at Facebook.

"He was repeatedly warned he was posting material that contravened Facebook guidelines and kept having his account suspended as a result.

"Contravening guidelines is not a criminal offence. The relevance here is he had been warned about the nature of the material he was posting.

"Despite the material, he was able to convince Facebook to reinstate his account before carrying on in exactly the same way as before.

"His account was finally and permanently closed in mid March last year, a month after he posted the video links that form the subject of the material on the indictment."

Alcharbati told detectives, during eight separate interviews, that he was not a terrorist and was merely "reporting the news from the middle east".

Mr Pawson-Pounds added: "He said he condemned terrorism and posted material to discourage others from committing such acts, quite opposite to what the crown say his intention was."