A mother-of-five who encouraged terror attacks on the UK after joining a pro-ISIS Facebook group was spared jail after a judge said ‘the sooner you get back to your children the better’.
Farhana Ahmed, 40, from north-west London, was a ‘prolific’ contributor to the Facebook group called ‘Power Rangers’.
The closed section, which had 1,406 members, described itself as a ‘pro-ISIS group, the purpose of it is to connect mawhideen brothers from different parts of the world and to help each other’.
Ahmed used the fake name Kay Adams to encourage terrorism on the social media site between September and November 2015.
Ahmed made 19 separate Facebook posts which ‘directly or indirectly encouraged terrorism both within the UK and abroad’ and ‘liked’ other extremist posts.
Ahmed was spared jail for posting Islamic State propaganda on a Facebook group called Power Strangers after a judge was moved by the ‘suffering’ of her five children
Her postings included a speech by an ISIS spokesman and a link to an ‘extensive online library’ of terrorist publications, prosecutor Ben Lloyd said.
The Old Bailey heard today Ahmed’s five home-schooled children, aged between six and 16, had suffered ‘greatly’ after she was arrested in July last year and held in custody.
She was given a two-year sentence suspended for two years after pleading guilty to one count of encouraging terrorism and three counts of disseminating a terrorist publication.
Judge Christopher Moss QC accepted that Ahmed was ‘suffering extremely difficult personal circumstances’ at the time of the offences and had since shown ‘completely genuine’ remorse.
He said: ‘Although your marriage subsists, your husband’s involvement with the family has at times been less than wholehearted, effectively leaving you as a single mother.’
Judge Moss revealed that when Ahmed made the Facebook posts she was living in temporary accommodation with her five children ‘where you and your family had suffered at the hand of strangers’.
He continued: ‘Since you were charged and remanded in custody this has plainly had an extremely adverse affect on your children who have been looked after by family members.
Judge Christopher Moss QC was ‘moved’ by a letter from her eldest son and told Ahmed: ‘In your exceptional case, the sooner you are returned to your children, the better for all concerned.’
‘You express remorse for your actions which I regard as completely genuine.
‘It’s quite clear to me that you regret in the strongest possible waty your criminal conduct.’
Judge Moss said Ahmed made the posts at a ‘very difficult time in your life when frankly it seems to me you were not yourself’.
The judge was ‘moved’ by a letter from her eldest son and told Ahmed: ‘In your exceptional case, the sooner you are returned to your children, the better for all concerned.’
Ahmed’s posts, in which she expressed approval of the Paris terror attacks, had attracted a large number of followers.
The court had heard Ahmed travelled to Turkey with her husband Muhammed Burmal Karwani and their five children in November 2013.
She and the children returned to Britain while her husband stayed behind and, when she tried to go to Turkey in August 2015, she was turned away by authorities, the Old Bailey heard.
Mr Lloyd said: ‘It may be that following this, the defendant decided to begin her campaign on Facebook encouraging terrorism.’
Her Facebook account included images of the aftermath of the terrorist bombings in Tunis in November 2015.
Days after the Paris terror attacks, in November 2015, she posted: ‘So the ‘Muslims’ in the West wanna have a cry and a moan and condemn and pay and speak out for a handful of Kafir’s in France compared to Syria who has had way more killed but their lives do not matter to the ‘Muslims’ that allay themselves with the West.’
In mitigation, Hossain Zahir said his client was a ‘good mother’ and was full of remorse.
Judge Moss said her period in custody had already had an ‘extremely adverse effect on the children’.
He told Ahmed: ‘You have devoted your life, apart from this abhorrent behaviour, to the care of your children.
‘There is no realistic danger of you returning to the mindset evidence of your conduct of two years ago.
‘You want nothing more than to return to your family and your family want nothing more that to return to them. They have suffered greatly by your period in custody. Your case is in an entirely exceptional category.’
As she left the dock, Ahmed, who wore a headscarf, acknowledged the judge and quietly said ‘thank you’.
The prosecution offered no evidence on two terrorism-funding charges which related to thousands of pounds sent to her husband, who has since been acquitted of terrorism offences in Turkey and returned to the UK.
According to the details of the indictment, Ahmed transferred £3,108.75 (11,000 Lira) to a Turkish bank account in the name of Per Muhammed Burmal Karwani in September 2014 and a further £4,300 (15,786 Lira) in February 2015.
The offences were all committed while she was on bail for the alleged funding offences.