Sunderland dad who posted Islamic State propaganda videos on Facebook to encourage terrorism is jailed

A Facebook user who posted Islamic State propaganda videos on his news feed in a bid to encourage terrorism has been jailed for seven years.

Friday, 14th December 2018, 15:33 pm
Updated Friday, 14th December 2018, 16:03 pm
Abdulrahman Alcharbati

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 eight 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 said 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".Former Sunderland University student Alcharbati told police "I just posted the news" but was convicted, after a trial, of six offences of dissemination of a terrorist publication and one of possession of a document containing terrorist information.Alcharbati, who had told jurors he suffers from mental illness and believes he is Jesus Christ, a Messiah or Prophet, has now been told by a judge: "You are clearly someone who had terrorist motivations."Judge Paul Sloan QC said Alcharbati's Facebook account had been disabled eight times due to the content he was posting.The judge said: "Each time, having confirmed your true identity, you managed to persuade Facebook to reinstate your account, claiming you were merely exposing what was happening."You also claimed you needed Facebook for your work."It wasn't until March 15 2017 Facebook finally realised the insincerity of your protests and disabled the account permanently."The judge said he was confident Alcharbati had viewed the bomb making manual, despite his denials, which contained instructions for making suicide vests and explosives and told him;

"They had the potential to cause death and serious injury to people within the immediate proximity as well as significant damage to property."Judge Sloan said Alcharbati's intentions were to "encourage others".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."

After the case, 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.

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"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.

"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."