Abu Izzadeen, the radical Muslim cleric who heckled former Home Secretary John Reid at a public meeting, and called for volunteers to fight against British and American troops in Iraq, was yesterday jailed for 41/2 years for inciting and funding terrorism.
As the men awaited their sentences, one of the co-accused, Shah Jalal Hussain, reappeared, 10 days after he absconded while the jury was deliberating at Kingston upon Thames crown court.
Hussain, who had failed to arrive at court on Tuesday, handed himself in yesterday morning. He was sentenced to two years for his part in the fundraising charge, and three months, to be served consecutively, for breaking his bail conditions.
Another of the co-accused, Simon Keeler, a British-born Muslim convert, received a four-and-a-half-year sentence. The father of five had worked as a builder before his arrest. Both Keeler and Izzadeen were also given 21/2-year sentences for funding terrorism, to be served concurrently.
Judge Nicolas Price told the defendants that, while freedom of speech was a central tenet of democracy, they had “abused” those rights. Referring to Izzadeen, he said: “I am left in no doubt that your speeches were used by you as self-aggrandisement and not as an expression of sincerely held religious views … you are arrogant, contemptuous and utterly devoid of any sign of remorse.”
Of Keeler, the judge said: “You are someone with extremist and dangerous views. Not only the words themselves, but the tone in which they were issued, showed the depth of your fanatical zeal.”
Bethan David, the Crown Prosecution Service’s counterterrorism division reviewing lawyer, said: “These defendants called for people to give their support to Osama bin Laden and money to the mujahideen. They told people they should be proud of 9/11. It is not an offence to have negative views about Britain and its values and culture, but it is an offence to encourage acts of violence. This case was not about attacking free speech. It was about upholding the law.”
Izzadeen, who was born in Britain and named Trevor Brooks by his Christian parents, was one of the “leading lights” in the terrorism enterprise, along with Keeler, the sentencing judge said.
The men were part of an extreme Islamic group known as the mujahideen, which believes in the worldwide dominance of Islam and sharia law. Izzadeen and Keeler became senior figures in the group, run by preacher Omar Bakri, and continued to support its beliefs through offshoot groups after the group disbanded.
On November 9 2004 Izzadeen and his co-defendants made a series of extremist speeches at the Regent’s Park mosque, London, calling for volunteers to fight against British and American troops in Iraq, and donate money to fund terrorism. The men had gone to the mosque to observe Ramadan, the court was told, but their speeches had become more inflammatory as the day wore on. In one speech Izzadeen said the soldiers of the Black Watch would be raping women and killing children as they helped the Americans.
During subsequent searches of a property after the Danish cartoon protests in February 2006 police discovered video tapes of some of the speeches.
Izzadeen went on to attract much press coverage after he heckled John Reid at a public meeting in 2006 in east London, shouting: “How dare you come to a Muslim area when over a thousand Muslims have been arrested? You are an enemy of Islam and Muslims, you are a tyrant.”
Abdul Saleem and Ibrahim Hassan were convicted of inciting terrorism and jailed for three and two years respectively. Abdul Muhid, who was found guilty of fundraising for terrorists, was jailed for two years. He will serve this sentence once he has completed a jail term for soliciting murder during protests against the publication of cartoons in a Danish newspaper depicting the prophet Mohammed.