Three men who used the internet to spread extremist Islamic material and incite terrorism were jailed yesterday in a landmark "cyber-jihad" case.The trio of Islamic extremists set up websites, using stolen credit card details and identities, to promote al-Qaeda ideology and martyrdom, according to police reports. It was the first time anyone had been prosecuted in the UK based entirely on the distribution of terrorist material via the internet.
Younes Tsouli, Tariq al-Daour and Waseem Mughal – all students who lived at home with their parents – were found guilty of promoting holy war through online forums and websites. One post contained a discussion about a plot – with striking similarities to the recent thwarted attacks in London and Glasgow - by doctors using a car bomb at a naval base in the US.
Tsouli, the alleged ringleader, hacked into unprotected web servers to post large files and videos – including the beheadings of Western hostages and other jihad material – using file transfer protocol (FTP). The 23-year-old was also responsible for setting up online chat forums where al-Qaeda supporters could download manuals on explosives and weapons.
The men were sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court in London yesterday and must serve a total of 24 years in prison. Passing sentence Mr Justice Openshaw said that the men had engaged in “cyber-jihad” and encouraged others to kill non-Muslims.
However, he said that none of the men had come near to carrying out a terrorist attack themselves. He said: “He [Tsouli] came no closer to a bomb or a firearm than a computer keyboard.”