Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009

Airport woman hid terror manual

Houria Chahed Chentouf
Chentouf walked free after serving her time on remand

A woman has been jailed for two years after admitting hiding "a mini encyclopaedia of weapons-making" in a USB device in the sleeve of her burka.

Houria Chahed Chentouf, 41, admitted two counts of possessing documents likely to be useful for a terrorist purpose, at Manchester Crown Court.

The memory stick fell on the floor when she was being interviewed at Liverpool John Lennon Airport on 16 October 2008.

The Moroccan national walked free from court having served her time on remand.

Chentouf had been stopped at the airport and was being interviewed by officers when the USB pen drive dropped from her clothes.

Martyrdom support

It had been tied to the inner sleeve of her burka, but fell out as she reached down to scratch her leg, prosecutor Simon Denison told the court.

She was released by the airport authorities, but was later arrested at a house she was renting in Reynell Road, Longsight.

Liverpool John Lennonr Airport
Chentouf dropped the memory stick at Liverpool airport

The mother-of-six was charged under the Terrorism Act 2000 with possessing an article which gave rise to suspicions that "the possession was for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism".

It was described by police as "a mini encyclopaedia of weapons-making", the court heard.

Evidence was also uncovered from internet chat rooms which indicated her support for those seeking martyrdom.

But Judge Michael Henshell, sentencing, said the Crown had accepted that she had no intention of using the material.

He said Chentouf had "developed an obsessive interest in jihad".

"Offences of this sort must be sentenced to immediate custody to deter others from behaving as you have," he said.

The fact she had this documentation in her possession constitutes a serious offence
Det Ch Supt Tony Porter

Despite the huge amount of material found on the pen drive there was "no evidence you intended to pass it on to anybody", the judge added.

"The Crown accept there was no intention of putting it into practical use," said the judge.

The court was told that Chentouf suffers from a mental illness which was triggered by the death of a family member and the judge said her behaviour may have been affected by this.

Her culpability was also at the lower end of the scale for the offence, he added.

'Huge quantity'

Chentouf is of dual Moroccan/Dutch nationality and had travelled into Liverpool from her home in The Hague when she was stopped and interviewed.

Six computers were later recovered in the UK and a further four were recovered in The Netherlands.

An external hard drive, other electronic media and a number of other documents were recovered from both addresses.

About 90% of the material recovered was in Arabic or Dutch and each one had to be translated, which took more than 12,000 man hours.

USB stick
The USB stick contained about 7,000 documents

Chentouf was kept in custody until 31 October 2008 when she was charged under the Terrorism Act.

Speaking after the hearing, Det Ch Supt Tony Porter, of the North West Counter Terrorism Unit, said she had failed to tell officers what the material was for.

"It was the huge quantity that led us to believe that this was not by sheer chance," said the detective.

"We do know she has got known and established links to extremists abroad and that puts us on notice to be concerned.

"She is on our radar and she will know she is on our radar so I think we are in a better position than we were a year ago."

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Woman charged with terror offence
31 Oct 08 |  Manchester

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