An extremist who threatened Prince William’s wedding has been jailed for just 2 years and seven months, despite being found guilty on three counts of possessing terrorist material, according to the Guardian. Afsor Ali was convicted at the Old Bailey after he attempted to flee the country when he was caught with terrorist material on his computer.
The 27-year-old from Bethnal Green in East London posted a video on YouTube warning of a terror attack on the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in April 2011. He was found guilty on three of four charges of possessing material such as the Al-Qaeda handbook and information on how to use AK47s.
On Tuesday he also pleaded guilty to failing to attend a court hearing in February. He had skipped bail and attempted to board a EuroStar train to Paris in March, but was arrested at the station. This led to him also being found guilty of using someone else’s passport.
Judge Charles Wide QC said that he had made a “really determined attempt” to evade justice as he jailed him for 16 months for the passport offence and eight months for skipping bail, to run concurrently.
The judge also jailed him for just 15 months for the terrorist offences, suggesting that the court was more concerned with the illegal use of a passport than it was with protecting the public. This was the case despite the material in question including information on how to make bombs.
Judge Wide said at Ali hasd tried to convince the jury that whilst he was “radical and committed” he was “not an extremist and did not support terrorism”. He said: “It is absolutely clear you are an extremist and you do support terrorism.
“While you were on bail, subject to strict conditions, you did not report to the police. Sadly action was not taken as early as it should have been.
“You then made a really determined attempt to flee the jurisdiction. You acquired somebody else’s passport. I am told you had a lot of money on you. It is very obvious you were getting help. You are not just a loner. That is a very serious matter.”
When police searched Ali’s belongings they found a library of terrorist material including tutorials from the hate preacher Omar Bakri and a manual entitled “39 ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad”. He has also called for “Burn American Flag Day”.
Ali did not react when he was sentenced, but his lawyer did offer the mitigation that he had not attempted to disseminate the material and there was no evidence he was going to commit an act of terrorism himself.
He first came to the attention of the Police when he was arrested outside the US Embassy in December 2011 as part of the banned group Muslims Against Crusades. Whilst he was released without charge an investigation into his MP3 player, laptop and external hard drive found the terrorist material. They then searched his house again nine months later they discovered a new computer also contained extremist material.
On 29 November 2012, Ali was charged with possession of documents or records containing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism contrary to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The judge order the computers, external drive and MP3 player be destroyed.
Ali has been involved in extremist groups for several years, he was influential in the now banned Al-Muhajiroun group. Al-Muhajiroun was banned in 2010, but before that it held a conference in 2002 entitled “The Magnificent 19”, which praised the terrorists who attacked America on 9/11.
The time it took for British authorities to ban Al-Muhajiroun, coupled with the relatively short sentence for Ali are likely to re-enforce concerns that the establishment is still not taking the threat of terrorism seriously. Nearly one in five individuals convicted of terrorism offences in the last decade have had links to Al-Muhajiroun and its successor organisations.