Teenager, students jailed for having extremist material
July 26,2007 (AFP) A teenager and four university students were sentenced to between two years and three years in custody in Britain Thursday after Islamist extremist material was found on their computers.
The three students from Bradford University in northern England were arrested after Mohammed Irfan Raja ran away from his home in London last year, leaving a note for his parents saying he was going to fight abroad.
Raja, who is now 19 but was still at school at the time, had been recruited by the students on the Internet and exchanged Islamist extremist propaganda before going to stay with them, London’s Central Criminal Court was told.
He never went and returned to the family home after three days, but prosecutors said all four were planning to go to Pakistan to train for holy war or “jihad” in Afghanistan.
Sentencing judge Peter Beaumont told them they had become “intoxicated” by extremist propaganda, despite being born in Britain and having enjoyed the benefits of freedom of speech and worship.
“You were intoxicated by the extremist nature of the material each one of you collected — the songs, the images and the language of violent jihad. And so carried away by the material were you that each of you crossed the line.
“That is exactly what the people that peddle this material want to achieve and exactly what you did.”
The custodial sentences were designed to “stop them and you and to protect this country and its citizens abroad”, he added.
Raja, from Ilford, east London, was given two years in a young offenders’ institution while Awaab Iqbal, 20, from Bradford, and Aitzaz Zafar, also 20, from Rochdale, north-west England, were both given three years’ detention.
Usman Ahmed Malik, 21, from Bradford, was sent to prison for three years and Akbar Butt, of Southall, west London, was given 27 months’ detention.
They had denied the charges.
The case comes amid concern at the extent of radicalisation of young British-born Muslims following the 2005 suicide attacks on London’s public transport system by four “home-grown” bombers that killed them and 52 others.
Particular worries have been expressed about the recruitment by so-called radicals at British universities and a request by the government to monitor student activity as recent cases had shown many defendants to be well-educated.
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