Page last updated at 17:00 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 18:00 UK

Computer terror teenager jailed

Hammaad Munshi
The court heard Munshi had a guide to making napalm on his computer

The youngest person in Britain arrested and convicted under the Terrorism Act has been sentenced to two years in a young offenders' institution.

Hammaad Munshi, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, 18, was 16 when he was arrested in 2006. Police found a guide to making napalm on his computer.

The Old Bailey judge said he had been influenced by "fanatical extremists".

His family backed the sentence, but said the case showed how easily a teenager could be groomed.

Al-Qaeda propaganda

Munshi was convicted last month of making a record of information likely to be used for terrorist purposes, but cleared of possessing terrorist material.

During his trial at Blackfriars Crown Court, the jury heard that he had spent many hours viewing jihadist websites and had downloaded guides to making napalm, detonators and explosives.

Munshi was convicted alongside two other men, Aabid Khan and Sultan Muhammad.

Khan, 23, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, was said to be a "key player" in radicalisation via the internet.

You have brought very great shame upon yourself, your family and your religion
Judge Timothy Pontius

He was accused by prosecutors of "inciting others to take part in [jihad] and arranging for himself and others to attend military training in Pakistan in preparation for going to fight and, inevitably, to kill".

Munshi was said to have been recruited by Khan when he was just 15.

His barrister had told the court he had shown "curiosity" rather than any kind of malicious intent.

However, on Friday Detective Chief Superintendent John Parkinson from the West Yorkshire counter-terrorism unit said all three were dangerous individuals who were not just curious about extremist material.

"They'd gone out of their way to possess information about how to construct explosive devices, information about how to carry out acts of terrorism," he told the BBC's Asian Network.

"They were pieces of information that had to be specifically sought out, and has therefore definitely stepped over that criminal threshold."

The trial heard that Munshi was desperate to go and fight and went by the online name of "fidadee", meaning a "person ready to sacrifice himself".

He also had a discussion with Khan, via an internet messaging service, about how someone might smuggle a sword through airport security.

Police said they found al-Qaeda propaganda on his computer and notes on martyrdom hidden under his bed.


Judge Timothy Pontius said: "There is no doubt that you knew what you were doing."

He said the nature of what was downloaded made it a "particularly serious offence".

"You have brought very great shame upon yourself, your family and your religion," he told Munshi.

Aabid Khan and Sultan Muhammad
Aabid Khan and Sultan Muhammad were jailed last month

"However, in the light of the evidence, I have no doubt at all that you, amongst others of similar immaturity and vulnerability, fell under the spell of fanatical extremists, and your co-defendant Aabid Khan in particular.

"They took advantage of your youthful naivety in order to indoctrinate you with pernicious and warped ideas masquerading as altruistic religious zeal.

"Were it not for Aabid Khan's malign influence, I doubt this offence would ever have been committed."

Khan was sentenced in August to 12 years for possessing or making documents promoting terrorism. His cousin Muhammad, 23, also from Bradford, was sentenced to 10 years for similar offences under the Terrorism Act.

'Lessons to learn'

In a statement, Munshi's grandfather Sheikh Yakub Munshi, who is a well-known Islamic scholar, said the family respected the court's judgment.

"But like any other family in this country, we are deeply upset by the situation in which Hammaad finds himself," he said.

Labour MP Shahid Malik says it's a wake-up call for many Muslim parents

"All of us feel there are lessons to be learnt, not only for us but also for the whole Muslim community in this country.

"This case demonstrates how a young, impressionable teenager can be groomed so easily through the internet to associate with those whose views run contrary to true Muslim beliefs and values."

Shahid Malik, Munshi's local MP, said the teenager's family had been left "shocked and bewildered" by what had happened.

"It is a real wake-up call for parents because there is a real need to be vigilant, especially when their kids are on the internet," he said.

"It is a real wake-up call to how older jihadists can prey on vulnerable young people.

"Mosques have done a lot but they need to do more in terms of telling young people what is acceptable and what is not in Islam."


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