Police plea for information on radicalisation after Sunderland engineer Abdulrahman Alcharbati found guilty of terrorism charges

Police have urged the public to come forward with any information on radicalisation or suspicious behaviour after a Sunderland engineer was found guilty of terror charges.

Saturday, 20th October 2018, 10:59 am
Updated Saturday, 20th October 2018, 11:08 am

Abdulrahman Alcharbat, who posted Islamic State propaganda videos on his Facebook news feed, despite repeated bans from the social media site, was convicted of terrorism offences yesterday andwill be sentenced on December 14, 2018.

The engineer 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.

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

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Alcharbati was arrested by counter terrorism officers after he was suspected of being responsible for a number of posts he made on Facebook.

Police said Alcharbati posts, which were made in February 2017, were among 386 posts made between January 24 – February 26 2017. Over a hundred of these posts referred to either Daesh or martyrdom.

Officers said the account was suspended on a number of occasions by Facebook administrators and eventually permanently closed down in March 2017. His other online activity also illustrated his extremist mindset.

Head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East, Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden said “Mr Alcharbati was sharing and publishing terrorist material via Facebook. This material actively encouraged others to carry out terrorist activity.

"He was also found to have downloaded an instructional guide which contained detailed instructions on how to make a suicide vest.

"While there was no evidence to indicate the purpose for the possession of this material, or any intended distribution of it, the very fact that it was downloaded is deeply concerning. Possession of such material is a serious offence.

"Should it fall into the wrong hands it could present a very real risk to public safety. Public safety is our priority and we acted quickly in conjunction with Northumbria Police in this investigation to ensure this.

He added: “Terrorist groups such as Daesh rely heavily on their propaganda being shared online where it is used to radicalise, encourage support and provoke individuals to carry out attacks abroad and in the UK.

“Tackling extremist material is an essential part of protecting the public and preventing offences that incite or encourage acts of terrorism.

“The issue of online radicalisation is a serious one, but it is one that the public can really help us with. I would urge anyone who sees anything online that is concerning, to report it."

Terrorist-related material online can be reported anonymously to specialist officers via www.gov.uk/report-terrorism.

Any suspicious activity can also be reported to the police in confidence on 0800 789 321.

Assistant Chief Constable of Northumbria Police Helen McMillan said: “While offences of this nature are thankfully extremely rare in Northumbria, I hope today’s verdict will reassure the communities we serve that action will be taken when such activity is uncovered.

"If anyone notices any suspicious behaviour then we would ask them to remain vigilant and report it to the police in confidence on 0800 789 321 or by visiting www.gov.uk/ACT."

The senior officer said while the police will always seek to bring those suspected of criminal activity to court, if given the opportunity, intervention at an early stage can steer individuals away from becoming involved in terrorist activities and provide tailored assistance through a number of channels.

She added: "The earlier contact is made, the more likely police and partners can intervene and stop someone from being criminalised.

"If you have concerns about the path a loved one or friend could be taking, then you can seek help by calling your local police on 101."