Camden man jailed for sharing terrorist material online
PUBLISHED: 11:22 08 September 2017 | UPDATED: 18:01 08 September 2017
A former school caretaker from Camden has been jailed for a year after an investigation found that he had been sharing terrorist material through social media.
Mehdi Bira, 45, of Hampstead Road was found guilty of two charges of dissemination of terrorist material.
Bira was arrested on September 7 2016 after officers became aware that he was sharing terrorist content on Facebook.
They seized his phone, computer and media devices, and when they were analysed, detectives found Bira had shared terrorist content of an extremist nature via Facebook.
In all, officers found 48 terrorist-related videos on his devices. Bira had deleted 25 of these, however the investigation team were able to recover them and prove he had shared videos via Facebook.
An examination of his computer also revealed he had trawled the internet for other extremist material, including Jihadi John and Isis, the court heard.
Sentencing him to a year in jail at the Old Bailey, Judge Andrew Lees said: “I am sure you read at least part of those publications and you watched at least part of those videos.
“I’m sure that you were not viewing that material out of curiosity or to update yourself on current affairs or, as you asserted, to share the suffering of those who were killed by Isis or al Qaida terrorist organisation. That was the very evidence the jury rejected.
“It was obvious to me that dissemination of this sort of material is potentially very dangerous to society and that is why the offences, and indeed all terrorist offences, are serious, and why a custodial sentence, in my judgment, is inevitable.”
The defendant came to Britain from Algeria in 1998 and worked to support his wife and two children, now aged three and five, the court heard.
In his defence, he said he believed the posts were just viewed by a small group of “Facebook friends”.
At his trial, Bira was found not guilty of a third count - using WhatsApp to disseminate terrorist material.
Following his conviction, Bira said he had no wish to use WhatsApp or Facebook again, the court heard.
His wife, who had been a GP in Algeria, said in a statement read to court that her husband was “not a bad person”, adding: “He’s a good husband and father. He’s a family man.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Clarke Jarrett, from the Met’s counter terrorism command, said: “The distribution of terrorist material on social media is a serious offence.
“Such material supports terrorism and is often intended to influence and radicalise others. I would urge the public to report any extremist or terrorist material online.”