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Isis recruiter who acted as 'ambassador' to UK is jailed after sending jihadis to Syria

Isis recruiter who acted as 'ambassador' to UK is jailed after sending jihadis to Syria


Isis recruiter who acted as 'ambassador' to UK is jailed after sending jihadis to Syria

[The Independent]

Lizzie Dearden, Aine Fox

The IndependentAugust 4, 2017

Awat Hamasalih, 35, has been jailed for six years for being a member of Isis: Facebook

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Awat Hamasalih, 35, has been jailed for six years for being a member of Isis: Facebook

 

An Isis recruiter who acted as an “ambassador” for the group in Britain and helped two jihadis who attempted to travel to Syria has been jailed for six years.

 

Awat Hamasalih, an Iraqi Kurd, came to the UK in 2002, became a British citizen in 2008 and then went on to launch an “active and committed” campaign for Isis from his home in Birmingham.

 

The 35-year-old helped the terror group through speeches, social media, crowdfunding and even tipped off an Isis commander in Iraq over an imminent attack.

 

​Hamasalih was also found in possession of a military document containing information about the identities of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters resisting Isis expansion.

 

He was described as a committed “advocate and ambassador” for the “pernicious” terror group by Judge Richard Marks QC as he handed down the sentence at the Old Bailey.

 

Judge Marks said: “I am bound to sentence you on the basis that, although there is no evidence that you were at any time involved in the planning of any particular act of terrorism, you nonetheless had an extremist mindset and a role in and commitment as an advocate and ambassador for Isis, and were a member of that deeply pernicious organisation, committed to pursuing and promoting its aims by the widest dissemination of its propaganda, which included images of its captives who had been beheaded.”

Hamasalih has lived in the UK since 2002, and campaigned for Isis from his home in Birmingham (West Midlands Police)

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Hamasalih has lived in the UK since 2002, and campaigned for Isis from his home in Birmingham (West Midlands Police)

 

Sitting in the dock Hamasalih, who wore a grey shirt and sported a shaved head and short beard, gave no reaction as the judge sentenced him to six years in prison.

 

He was handed a six-year sentence for Isis membership, and four years in jail with a one-year extension on licence for each count related to the possession of documents likely to be useful to the terror group. All the terms will run concurrently.

 

The judge also made a forfeiture order on items including phones and hard drives, and ordered a victim surcharge to be paid.

 

Giving evidence during his trial Hamasalih had admitted being a supporter of self-proclaimed Islamic State but said he was not a member and denounced the recent terror attacks in Manchester, Westminster and London Bridge.

 

But the jury found Hamasalih, of Finchley Road, Kingstanding, Birmingham, guilty by a majority of 10 to two.

 

West Midlands Police said he had communicated information on an attack in Mosul with an Isis commander, and had details of Peshmerga soldiers on a spreadsheet found in November.

 

Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, who heads the force’s counter-terror unit (WMCTU), said: “On social media, Hamasalih claimed to be an Isis recruiter and claimed he was able to help people with aspirations to travel to Syria.

 

“WMCTU will continue to protect local communities by working with partners and the CPS to pursue and prosecute all those who show support for illegal organisations such as so-called Daesh [Isis] or who seek to spread hate and terror.”

 

Jurors were told how he helped two would-be jihadis as they prepared to travel to Syria to fight, using the code word “car wash” when discussing the plan.

 

In May last year, Shivan Azeez Zangana was arrested at the al-Noor Mosque in Birmingham and Aras Hamid was detained en route to Dover after being found hiding in the back of a lorry.

 

In January, Hamid, 27, was jailed for seven years and Zangana, 21, was handed three years after they were convicted at Kingston Crown Court of preparing for acts of terrorism.