Sainsbury’s worker faces jail over ISIS terror manual

Iftikhar Ali, pictured, was found guilty of 12 counts of disseminating a terrorist document and one count of possessing a document likely to be useful to a terrorist

A young Sainsbury’s shop assistant is facing jail for sharing ISIS propaganda on WhatsApp.

Iftikhar Ali was aged 18, and living at home with his parents, at the time he sent extremist material on his mobile phone.

He denied 12 counts of disseminating a terrorist document and one of possessing a document likely to be useful to a person committing an act of terrorism.

But following a trial at the Old Bailey, Ali, now 19,  from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, was found guilty of all the charges.

It can now be reported Ali was friends with convicted terrorist Taha Hussain, who was filmed driving past Windsor Castle shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ and ‘burn in hell’.

Hussain, 21, from Berkshire, knew London Bridge attacker Khuram Butt and was jailed for four and a half years in September, for disseminating terrorist documents on social media.

In December 2015, Ali had been identified by the Prevent team but he failed to engage with them.

He was arrested on March 10 last year over a payment of £140 via Western Union to a man in Turkey, which he claimed in police interviews was for ‘charitable purposes’.

Examination of his mobile phone revealed Ali had an avid interest in ISIS with material including audio files of radical preacher Anwar al Awlaki, and images of executions as well as Hussain’s Windsor video.

Prosecutor Mark Paltenghi said Ali’s offences spanned six months between September 8 2015 and his arrest.

He said: ‘It is the Crown’s case that although he was young, he had already become a radicalised proponent and supporter of extreme Islamism.’

The Old Bailey heard Ali had saved audio files and terror manuals on his mobile phone

Ali sent a string of audio files on WhatsApp containing Nasheeds (songs), with titles such as For the Sake of Allah and Give Our Regards to Abu Bakr and Oh Islamic State You Light the World.

Following his arrest, police also recovered an alleged terrorist document entitled Advice for those doing Hijrah (migration), jurors were told.

In a police interview, Ali said: ‘I have no links to any terrorist network. I was interested for research and curiosity purposes only as to what was going on in the Middle East. I’m not part of Islamic State or any other organisation.’ 

Ali downloaded a 148-page document called ‘Advice for those doing Hijrah’ which contains advice about how to sneak abroad to join ISIS on his Sony Xperia.

After his arrest on March 10, last year counter terror officers discovered he had typed ‘Kuffar’, ‘Jihad’ and ‘Sharia4UK’ into his phone so much the terms were stored in the device’s user dictionary. 

Ali, pictured, had a guide on how to runaway and join ISIS on his mobile phone

Ali, pictured, had a guide on how to runaway and join ISIS on his mobile phone

Ali did not react as the jury delivered its unanimous verdicts.

His ‘distraught’ mother, grandmother and siblings looked on in the public gallery.

Judge Mark Dennis QC thanked jurors for their ‘public service’ saying: ‘Much of what you have had to look at has been very distressing and I’m sorry for that.’

He rejected a request for Ali to have bail while a pre-sentence report was being compiled.

Adjourning sentencing until January 26, the judge told him a lengthy custodial sentence was ‘inevitable’. 

Detective Chief Superintendent Kath Barnes, head of Counter Terrorism Policing South East, said: ‘It is clear from the evidence that has been presented that Ali had displayed support for Islamist ideology and used WhatsApp to spread propaganda which clearly encourages others to commit terrorist acts.

‘Today’s conviction sends out a strong message that actions such as those carried out by Ali will not be tolerated and Counter Terrorism Policing, including officers and staff in the South East, will continue to identify those responsible for sharing this kind of content, gather evidence and bring them before the courts, so that they may face justice.

‘We will be relentless in our efforts to keep people safe.’