Extremist is jailed for more than four years for leaving memory sticks containing terror material in shoes of praying Muslim worshippers after one was found by boy, nine
- Omar Ashfaq left extremist propaganda in the shoes of worshippers at mosques
- He went to mosques in Luton, Derby, Loughborough, Coventry and Birmingham
- 24-year-old claimed he was ‘attempting to highlight extremist material available online to Imams so that they could report it to the police’
During Ramadan Omar Ashfaq, 24, travelled to mosques in Luton, Derby, Loughborough, Coventry and Birmingham to leave extremist material
An extremist who left memory sticks containing terrorist propaganda inside shoes while Muslim worshippers were praying has been jailed today.
One was found by a nine-year-old boy who had gone to the mosque with his father and older brother.
During Ramadan in May and June last year Omar Ashfaq, 24, travelled to mosques in Luton, Derby, Loughborough, Coventry and Birmingham to leave extremist and violent material.
On Friday 1 June last year three USB drives containing imagery and words promoting and encouraging terrorism, were found in the shoes of people attending a mosque in Leicestershire.
The following day the same thing happened at two mosques in Bedfordshire, in which four USB drives in total were found. Five drives were also discovered at a mosque in the West Midlands.
On Monday 4 June another three devices were found at a Derbyshire mosque. A further stick was discovered at another mosque in the West Midlands a few days later.
Worshippers who found the memory sticks informed mosque authorities who were able to identify Ashfaq from CCTV footage and notified the police.
The 24-year-old, formerly from Derby, was arrested and a search of his home and a vehicle uncovered numerous bags of USB sticks as well as notes outlining his plans.
One document labelled ‘Target: 1 week’ was a map on which a route was drawn, taking in as far north as Leeds, east to Peterborough, south to London and west to Stoke-on-Trent.
Ashfaq was charged with three counts of possessing material of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism and eight counts of disseminating terrorist publications.
He subsequently pleaded guilty to the possession offences but continued to deny disseminating the material — claiming he was merely attempting to highlight extremist material available online to Imams so that they could report it to the police.
On the first day of his trial at Birmingham Crown Court, however, Ashfaq pleaded guilty to dissemination and today was jailed for four-and-a-half years, with a further year of monitoring on licence.
Deb Walsh from the CPS said: ‘Omar Ashfaq found a novel way to spread violent Daesh propaganda in the hope of encouraging British Muslims to commit terrorist acts.
‘Instead the mosques he targeted found him on their CCTV recordings and handed in the footage and the memory sticks to the police.
‘I want to thank them for acting quickly so the CPS had the crucial evidence we needed to encourage him to plead guilty.’