Woman guilty of assaulting taxi driver and shouting ‘Go back to Pakistan’

A woman who punched a taxi driver in the face and shouted that they should “go back to Pakistan” will face sentencing next month.

The Bucks Free Press reported that 22-year-old Nicole Kupaza was guilty of one count of racially aggravated assault after the jury rejected her claim of self-defence.

An earlier report stated that the assault occurred on Christmas Eve at Tiplow train station last year.

The prosecution outlined how Ms Kupaza had approached the taxi office operated by Mohammed Malik and had requested that she wait outside so he could speak with another customer, as she lacked any financial means to book a taxi.

For the prosecution, they described how Ms Kupaza, having assaulted Mr Malik, had also shouted, “Go back to Pakistan,” and similar abusive statements.

Nicole Kupaza, whilst accepting she did assault them, had told police she had acted in self-defence and faced racist abuse in trial coverage published on June 22.

The Law Pages court listings website detailed that the prosecution had made their closing arguments the following day on June 23.

More broadly, Tell MAMA provides taxi drivers and taxi firms with tailored support and advice via our Safety, Security & Beyond scheme, which sits within the existing support structures of our service.

Kupaza will re-appear at Reading Crown Court for sentencing on July 27.

Are you a taxi driver or taxi firm interested in our support scheme? Please email info@tellmamauk.org to register interest and for further information.

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Categories: hate crime, News, taxi driver

Koran burnt in demonstration outside Stockholm mosque

Two men in Sweden took part in a demonstration that involved burning a Koran outside a mosque in the centre of the capital Stockholm on Wednesday.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said at a press conference that the action – taking place on the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha – was permitted, but not appropriate.

Footage from Swedish broadcaster SVT showed a man setting fire to a copy of Islam’s holy scripture behind police cordon tape. Apparently, only one other man took part in the demonstration. Dozens of people gathered behind the cordons, some shouting angry words.

According to the media reports, the public demonstration remained calm. One person who was holding a stone was led away from the site, according to the report.

The Stockholm police had previously given the green light for the small protest. According to the application, seen by the dpa, only two people were expected to attend the demonstration.

Swedish authorities authorized the protest because Swedish courts had ruled that police did not have the right to refuse permission for Koran burnings.

In February, the police refused the request of two organizers to conduct Koran burnings in Stockholm for security reasons.

Islamophobic protests have caused considerable trouble between Sweden and Turkey in recent months.

It is unclear if Wednesday’s Koran burning will cause new problems for Swedish-Turkish relations.

This incident could pose a serious problem for Sweden’s NATO membership application, which they submitted more than a year ago. It is still blocked by Turkey and Hungary. New members must be approved unanimously by all existing NATO members.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly accused Sweden of not taking action against “terrorist organizations,” an apparent reference to mostly Kurdish political groups from Turkey that operate in exile in the country such as the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).

Sweden has recently tightened its terrorism laws and the country’s supreme court approved the first extradition to Turkey of an alleged PKK supporter.

Read more on Sweden: How the far right are trying to deter refugees from entering Sweden

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Categories: Eid al-Adha, Koran Burning, Stockholm mosque, Sweden, Swedish, Turkish

Two million expected as Hajj pilgrimage starts in Saudi Arabia

Muslim pilgrims in Mecca have circled the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest site, and then converged on a vast tent camp in the nearby desert, officially opening the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

The event is returning to its full capacity for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic.

So far, more than 1.8 million pilgrims from all over the world have amassed in and around Mecca for the Hajj, and the number was growing as more pilgrims from inside Saudi Arabia joined, said a spokesman for the Saudi Hajj Ministry, Ayedh al-Ghweinim.

Authorities have said they expect this year to approach pre-Covid levels of more than two million.

Egyptian businessman Yehya Al-Ghanam said he was at a loss for words to describe his feelings on arriving at Mina, one of the biggest tent camps in the world, outside Mecca, where pilgrims will stay for much of the Hajj.

“Tears will fall from my eyes out of joy and happiness,” he said. “I do not sleep. I have not slept for 15 days, only an hour a day.”

The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam, and all Muslims are required to make the five-day Hajj at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to.

For pilgrims, it is a moving spiritual experience that absolves sins, brings them closer to God and unites the world’s more than 1.8 billion Muslims. Some spend years saving up money and waiting for a permit to embark on the journey.

The rituals during the Hajj largely commemorate the Koran’s accounts of Ibrahim, his son Ismail and Ismail’s mother Hajar.

Pilgrims have been doing the ritual circuit around the Kaaba since arriving in Mecca over recent days. As the last ones performed it on Monday, the pilgrims made their way by foot or bus to Mina.

In Mina, soldiers sprayed pilgrims with water to cool them down in the heat in the desert plain, where there is little respite from the blazing sun.

The faithful set up in their tents, resting in the rows of cubicles and praying together to prepare for the coming rituals.

On Tuesday, pilgrims will move to Mount Arafat, a desert hill where the Prophet Muhammad is said to have delivered his final sermon. Afterwards, they collect pebbles from a site known as Muzdalifa to be used in the symbolic stoning of pillars representing the devil back in Mina.

The final three days of the Hajj coincide with the Eid al-Adha holiday, when Muslims around the world slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to the poor.

In 2019, more than 2.4 million pilgrims participated in the Hajj. In 2020, amid worldwide coronavirus lockdowns, Saudi Arabia limited the pilgrimage to a few thousand citizens and local residents.

Last year, just under 900,000 attended as Saudi Arabia allowed limited numbers of pilgrims from abroad.

Read relevant links: Saudi Arabia bans foreign pilgrims amid Covid-19 fears.

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Categories: Coronavirus, Hajj, Ka'aba, Pilgrimage, Prophet Muhammad, Saudi Arabia

My life mission is to promote inclusivity, says first Muslim woman to lead Pride

An activist, who was the first Muslim woman to lead a Pride parade in Britain, says her mission in life is “to promote the inclusivity of sexuality and gender”.

The PA news agency is interviewing a series of people celebrating Pride Month in June, including Saima Razzaq, 38, from Birmingham.

Ms Razzaq is the director of change and communications at Birmingham Pride, and she uses her platform as part of the LGBT+, South Asian, and Muslim communities to carve out a space within the intersection.

Ms Razzaq, who is a lesbian but also uses the queer umbrella to describe her sexuality, became the first Muslim woman to lead a Pride parade in Britain at Birmingham Pride in 2021.

“Leading Pride was a monumental moment and obviously now I work at Pride as a result of that,” Ms Razzaq told PA.

After taking part in the Birmingham Pride Parade on May 27 this year, Ms Razzaq said she will be talking to and working with the community in the city for the remainder of Pride Month.

“Now, the thing is about getting into conversations within my own community,” she said.

“It’s about organising and working with the everyday communities of Birmingham, and taking them on this journey and working towards, ‘what can we do next?’”

– When did you ‘come out’ and how did your family respond?

Ms Razzaq said her mother approached her about her sexuality when she was 29 while they were driving to pick up a takeaway.

“She made me drive and she waited until we were on a dual carriageway and said, ‘do you like women?’

“I was like, ‘oh my god, why now?’,” Ms Razzaq recalled.

“Since that moment, I’ve seen a massive change in my mum. Now, she’s changing her language.”

Ms Razzaq added she looks up to members of her family, and she regards them as her “superheroes”.

“People look up to influences and all these famous people, I don’t, I look up to my aunties and uncle – they’re my superheroes,” she said.

“Even though my aunties and my uncle might not understand my queerness, they’re there.”

She added: “Faith is really important for me, and just because I’m queer, doesn’t mean I’m not Muslim, and they’ve not othered me for that either.

“Again, I think it’s really important for me to have this supportive family to allow me the space to do this.”

– What is your relationship with your faith?

Ms Razzaq said her faith helps her to “do better” and to “fulfil her mission in life”.

“I am a Muslim, I have a relationship with God, I feel very connected with God, like right now, I feel the most connected I’ve ever been.”

She added: “The Koran tells me to focus on where I am and the people I’m surrounded with and to do better and to fulfil my mission in life.

“I feel my mission in life is to promote the inclusivity of sexuality and gender.

“There is a really positive thing happening in Birmingham, and in time, Insha’Allah, the wider world will see it.”

– Have you experienced any hate or abuse since coming out?

Ms Razzaq said that while everyone is “happy” for her in regards to her sexuality, she receives “far more Islamophobia and racism” for being a woman of colour in a leadership position.

“Everyone is really happy for me to be queer, but when I suddenly say, ‘yes I’m also Pakistani’, ‘I’m also Muslim’, and ‘I’m proud of those intersections’, it’s a narrative that people aren’t that familiar with,” she said.

“People aren’t used to that side of the story. I get far more Islamophobia and racism for being a woman of colour in leadership.”

Ms Razzaq said she has been the victim of several hate crimes, including someone urinating on her bed on the narrow boat where she lives.

“I’ve had my car stolen, for example, in a really horrific way, I’ve had people urinate in my bed on my boat, I’ve had horrible calls.”

She added that she “doesn’t need anybody to judge my Muslimness”, and she finds that it’s those who are not of the faith that tend to judge her more.

“And actually, it’s non-Muslims who will judge my Muslimness more than Muslims,” she said.

“Our communities will work through things, but we need everyone else to allow us the space to work through things as well.”

– What are the challenges within the intersections of faith and queerness?

Ms Razzaq said “it isn’t easy” for those in faith communities to bring up the subject of queerness, but she said she has noticed more people in South Asian communities coming out.

“Everyone will have difficulty bringing in the subject of queerness because it has been so polarised.

“It isn’t easy for most people in faith settings, and I think it’s really important that we reclaim this narrative.

“What I’ve noticed since I’ve come out is, and that’s just within the circle I’m part of, I’ve seen other South Asians come out, and their parents support them in that journey.”

On what advice she would give to someone in a faith setting who wished to come out, she said: “The most important thing to remember is that you’re valid, you’re absolutely valid.

“Your queerness or your gender identity is absolutely valid, be your authentic self.

“There are people like you, and for me, finding other queer South Asians, other queer Muslims, has been the best part of my journey.”

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Categories: Birmingham, LGBTQ, Muslim, Muslimness, Pride, Saima Razzaq

Germany’s Central Council of Jews dismayed by far-right election win

The Central Council of Jews is deeply shocked by the electoral success of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in a local election in Thuringia.

“To be clear: not every one of the AfD voters has extreme right-wing views,” said the president of the Central Council of Jews, Josef Schuster, according to the Jüdische Allgemeine newspaper.

“But the party whose candidates they voted for is, according to the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution, extreme right-wing.”

Schuster said he was deeply concerned that so many people agreed with this. “This is a breach of the dam that the democratic political forces in this country cannot simply accept.”

The International Auschwitz Committee also responded with horror to the result.

Executive Vice President Christoph Heubner said, “Today is a sad day for the Sonneberg district, for Germany and for democracy. A majority of voters have obviously said goodbye to democracy and deliberately opted for an extreme right-wing party of destruction dominated by a Nazi.”

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Categories: AfD, Auschwitz, Central Council of Jews, Election, Germany, Sonnenberg District, Thuringia

Portraits of concentration camp survivors defaced in Weimar

Unidentified perpetrators have scrawled graffiti over posters with photographic portraits of survivors of the Buchenwald concentration camp in Weimar, according to police.

A police spokesperson said on Thursday that a charge of damage to property had been filed. The police assume that the act was politically motivated. The graffiti on the two portraits would be removed as soon as possible, they said.

The pictures are part of an open-air exhibition in Weimar called “The Witnesses”, which shows large-format portrait photographs of former prisoners of the former Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald. Panels of the exhibition have also been defaced in the past.

The organisers of the Jewish-themed Achava Festival, which regularly takes place in Weimar, posted about the case on Twitter on Wednesday evening and asked for witnesses to come forward. “Today two photographs were smeared and thus desecrated!” they tweeted.

In all, 280,000 people were imprisoned in Buchenwald during the Nazi era, with 56,000 losing their lives there.

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Categories: Achava Festival, Antisemitism, Buchenwald Concentration camp, Germany, Holocaust survivors, Nazi-era, Weimar

Neo-Nazi jailed for extreme racist, anti-LGBT, and pro-terror group online posts

A Midlands-based neo-Nazi who pleaded guilty to posting racist, homophobic content online and praised a banned neo-Nazi terror group received a prison sentence totalling almost four years.

Richard Osborne, 53, from the Marton Green area of Solihull, pleaded guilty to various offences last month.

He received a prison sentence of 3 years and ten months for posting racist and homophobic materials on the Russian social media platform VK at least 120 times.

Our investigation detailed the depths of the anti-Jewish racism – from Holocaust denial to racist caricatures from US-based white supremacists – those same caricatures included dehumanising, anti-Black racist tropes.

As detailed last month, Osborne posted disturbing material “calling for the violent removal of Muslim, Jewish, and Black communities from the UK and Europe, our investigation unearthed. Other disturbing posts linked Muslims to bestiality”.

In September 2021, he praised and shared propaganda from the banned neo-Nazi terror group National Action.

Officers from the West Midlands Police counter-terror unit recovered a baton fashioned from a metal bar in his car and a shotgun from under their bed, resulting in additional charges.

Detective Superintendent Anastasia Miller, from CTP West Midlands CTU, said: “By pleading guilty, Osborne admitted he held extreme far right views and through our investigation we were able to provide clear evidence he supported white supremacists as well as a proscribed far right group banned by the Government.

“Someone who holds extreme views against those that don’t look like him or hold the same views is not welcome in our society. Today’s sentence should be a clear message to those who intend to spread hate and terror, we will continue to work with partners and the CPS to protect our communities by pursuing and prosecuting such individuals.

“We work tirelessly to counter terrorism. Our absolute priority is to ensure the safety and security of the people who live, work and visit the West Midlands area.”





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Categories: Antisemitism, Far Right groups, homophobia, National Action, News, terrorism, VK

Hate-filled financial analyst jailed over homemade explosives stash

A financial analyst who made homemade explosives while harbouring “deep-seated” hatred against people he saw as “enemies” of Islam has been jailed for eight years.

Asad Bhatti, 50, from Redhill, Surrey, was convicted at the Old Bailey of having a stash of bomb-making materials after police received a tip-off from a computer repair shop.

On Monday, Mrs Justice McGowan jailed Bhatti for eight years with a further four years on extended licence after finding he posed a danger to the public in the future.

She said Bhatti had developed a “deep-seated hatred” for a group of Muslims he identified as “The Hypocrites” as well as other people based on their race and sexuality.

The judge noted that Bhatti had been diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder and was a “compulsive individual” but was also intelligent, well educated, with a responsible job.

She told him: “You were not targeted or taken advantage of by others. You became interested and that interest may well have been obsessive because of your autistic condition. But the interest was real and caused you to experiment in a way that was highly dangerous.”

The court had heard how Bhatti was reported to police by the owner of a computer repair shop who became suspicious of the content on his laptop.

An analysis of the computer and other electronic devices seized by police revealed a library of materials on how to manufacture explosive devices.

A search of the defendant’s home and a rented storage unit uncovered precursor chemicals and circuitry for the construction of explosive devices.

Experts also identified an improvised explosive device and three quantities of an improvised explosive known as black powder.

The prosecution alleged Bhatti had the explosives for “a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism”.

An examination of Bhatti’s computer also revealed a 173-page document compiled by the defendant entitled The Mu’min’s Handbook.

Although unfinished, its contents page included sections on Islam, jihad and martyrdom followed by chapters on “a simple guide to explosives”, “hand-to-hand combat” and “handguns and sniper rifles”.

The 20th chapter entitled The Munaafiqun (The Hypocrites) identified a perceived worldwide “enemy” to Islam and its “true adherents”.

He wrote that the “evil human beings” included “corrupt heads of Governments, Black Magicians, Religious Scholars”.

When asked in police interview to explain the content, Bhatti said it was “just like educational documents, work documents, just like hobby documents, stuff that interests me”.

Bhatti explained that he had studied engineering and business management at the University of Greenwich, and that he was a part-qualified accountant working as a senior financial analyst.

Giving evidence at his trial, Bhatti claimed he had the materials for lawful experimentation and out of curiosity.

In March, a jury rejected his explanation and found him guilty of two counts of possessing explosives, making explosives and two counts of possessing articles for terrorist purposes on or before January 8 2021.

In mitigation, Edward Henry KC told the court that Bhatti was “sad” rather than “bad” and had not sought to share his writings with others.

Mr Henry said: “He wanted to reduce the world to pure reason, a reason of his own understanding.”

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Categories: Asad Bhatti, Mu'min handbook, Munaafiqun, Redhill

Reading terrorist could not be deported after being accused of ‘eating mattress’

A Libyan refugee behind the Reading terror attack could not be deported as he was facing a trial accused of eating a mattress at a police station, an inquest has heard.

Khairi Saadallah shouted “Allahu akhbar” as he fatally stabbed friends James Furlong, 36, Dr David Wails, 49, and Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, 39, in the Berkshire town’s Forbury Gardens on June 20 2020.

A pre-inquest review hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Monday heard that, on July 24 2019, Saadallah is alleged to have spat at a police officer after being arrested and went on to damage a mattress.

Nicholas Moss KC, counsel to the inquest, said in court papers: “On that date, Saadallah is said to have attended Reading police station, spat at a detention officer after arrest, and damaged a mattress by eating it.

“He was charged, pleaded not guilty, released on unconditional bail and his trial was adjourned due to Covid.

“It appears that Saadallah was next due in court for these offences in July 2020 – after the date of the attack.”

Home Office staff emailed Thames Valley Police on May 28 2020, stating that they planned to deport Saadallah but were unable to “until the impending charges had been dealt with”.

However, other Home Office staff were arguing against deporting Saadallah as it was dangerous for him to return to Libya at the time, the court heard.

The charges – being drunk and disorderly, destroying or damaging property, and assault by beating of an emergency worker – were dropped on June 1 2020, shortly before the attack.

Mr Moss said solicitors to the inquest have requested a witness statement from the Crown Prosecution Service “addressing why the decision was made not to pursue” the charges.

He added: “Whatever the right and wrongs of that, it appears from that exchange between the CPS and the Home Office charges were dropped, due to what may be thought to have been a misunderstanding or miscommunication about the status of Mr Saadallah.”

Three other people – Stephen Young, 51, Patrick Edwards, 29, and Nishit Nisudan, 34 – were injured before Saadallah threw away the eight-inch knife and ran off, pursued by an off-duty police officer.

In January 2021, the killer was handed a whole-life sentence at the Old Bailey after pleading guilty to three murders and three attempted murders.

Coroner Sir Adrian Fulford PC KC told the court “no relevant stone will be left unturned” during the inquest.

Nick Harborne, chief executive of the Refugee Support Group, told the court the scope of the inquest should go back to 2016, when his organisation was first aware of “the potential of his violence and the vulnerable state of his mental health”.

Saadallah had informed the organisation that he wanted to return to Libya to “avenge the deaths of his family members” and “martyr himself”, the court heard.

Mr Harborne said: “We spent four years after 2016 trying to get some mental health support. He came as a minor, a vulnerable young person with the trauma of being a child solider.”

Mr Furlong’s father, Gary, who attended the court, said on behalf of the victim’s families after the hearing: “Our principal wish remains that lessons may be learned, and effective measures put in place to prevent others suffering the tragedy that we have endured.

“To achieve this aim, we know that any failings that caused or contributed to the deaths of James, Joseph and David must be identified.

“We have every confidence that the new judge coroner Sir Adrian Fulford and his team do so.

“We trust that everyone else involved in this inquest process will work tirelessly towards that same goal, so that the events that led to the deaths of our beloved James, David and Joseph will not be repeated.”

A further pre-inquest review hearing will take place on September 18 and 19 at the High Court, with full proceedings set to begin in January 2024.

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Categories: Dr David Wails, Islamist terrorist, Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, Khairi Saadallah, Reading

Teenage terrorist jailed for life over plot to attack soldiers and police

A teenage Islamic State fanatic has been jailed for life for plotting a terror attack on British police officers or soldiers after being radicalised online in the pandemic.

Muslim convert Matthew King, 19, expressed a desire to kill military personnel as he prepared to stake out a British Army barracks in Stratford, east London.

He discussed his plans and shared a “gory fantasy” with an online girlfriend with whom he struck up an adolescent flirtation, the Old Bailey heard.

His desires to launch an attack in Britain or travel to Syria to join so-called Islamic State were thwarted when his mother reported him to the Prevent counter-terrorism programme.

Authorities were also tipped off through an anti-terrorist hotline after he posted a video on a WhatsApp group on April 13 last year.

While in custody, King had made a violent threats to “behead an imam” and “kill and chop up staff”, the Old Bailey was told.

In January, King, from Wickford in Essex, pleaded guilty to preparation of terrorist acts between December 22 2021 and May 17 2022.

On Friday, he was handed a discretionary life sentence with a minimum term of six years in the first terrorism sentencing in England and Wales to be televised.

Judge Mark Lucraft KC praised King’s mother, saying: “She took the very bold step of alerting Prevent when she had concerns for her son. That cannot have been an easy thing to do in the first place and in my view she absolutely the right thing.”

Judge Lucraft found King was a dangerous offender and carried a risk of future harm to the public, despite claims by his barrister the defendant was on the path to deradicalisation.

In mitigation, Hossein Zahir KC said King was “immature” and the prospect he would carrying out either of his terrorist plans were “remote”.

The defence barrister argued that despite incidents of “offensive and abusive” behaviour in custody, King was “slowly and steadily” disengaging from the excesses of extremism.

After the sentencing, Scotland Yard described King as a “committed, self-initiated terrorist” who was “self-radicalised” online during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Commander Dominic Murphy, who leads the Met’s counter terrorism command, said: “We had seen an escalation in Matthew King’s behaviour, in his reconnaissance, in his online activity.

“I genuinely believe this was an imminent terrorist attack. Without the public’s help and without the efficient investigation of my officers, officers from the eastern region and members of the intelligence community, we wouldn’t have been able to disrupt what, for me, was an imminent attack.”

Setting out the facts at a previous hearing, prosecutor Paul Jarvis had described how King had developed an “entrenched Islamist extremist mindset”.

In his early teens, King “dabbled with drugs” and was expelled from school after becoming aggressive, eventually leaving education entirely at the age of 16.

Around 2020, he became interested in Islam, began to attend mosques and watched Muslim videos on YouTube.

By May 2021, his family noticed he had become more extreme and his mother became concerned he was watching material online promoting hatred, Mr Jarvis said.

He had developed a friendship with a girl – identified in court only as Miss A – who he met online.

He spoke of wanting to get his hands on an American or British Marine and told the girl: “I just wanna die a martyr.”

When Miss A appeared to support and encourage him, King responded: “I guess jihadi love is powerful. I just want to kill people.”

In further graphic chat, Miss A talked about torturing, mutilating and beheading a soldier and then cutting up the body parts.

As part of his terror attack planning, King had set up an online account with the retailer Knife Warehouse, searched for IS tactical training videos in the use of knives and bought “tactical gloves” and goggles.

On one occasion, he went into his sister’s bedroom dressed up in his combat outfit and asked if she liked his clothes.

King made videos as he checked out potential targets including Stratford army barracks, police officers outside Stratford Magistrates’ Court and at the railway station.

Some of his hostile reconnaissance videos were overlaid with nasheeds – Islamic chants – and he posted on Snapchat: “Target acquired”.

Meanwhile, King had searched the internet for terrorist killers including the Manchester Arena bomber and Jihadi John.

While planning acts of terrorism in Britain, King had also expressed a desire to join Islamic State in Syria and sought advice on a WhatsApp group about the best way to get there.

Authorities were alerted after King posted on WhatsApp an image of a male holding a knife with the words: “Those who said that there is no jihad and no battle. They are lying!”

King was arrested at his home on May 18 last year by officers from the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command.

He described his former Islamic name as “Abdul Kalashnikov” and told police: “The only thing which is black and white is the sharia, the law of Allah.”

King’s barrister told the court that more recent conversations with his supportive family showed signs the defendant was turning away from his radical beliefs.

And in a prison phone call, King told his mother: “I’m not extreme anymore.”

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Categories: British police officers, Matthew King, Muslim Convert, Nasheed, Prevent, terrorism