An Isis fantatic has been jailed for eight years after sharing a video of him yelling ‘attack, attack,’ at the Royal Festival Hall in an extremist WhatsApp group – after claiming he was only practising dog commands.
Shehroz Iqbal, 28, from Gants Hill in Ilford, was already known to the Home Office after he was given a suspended sentence for posting anti-semitic posters outside a synagogue in 2017.
The extremist was enrolled in a Government deradicalisation programme, Desistance and Disengagement, and was under routine checks from officers at Ilford Police Station.
Despite being monitored, Iqbal joined an extremist WhatsApp group called ‘Dark to Light,’ where he shared vile extremist propaganda with like-minded friends.
In March, Iqbal sent a video to to group he filmed at the Royal Festival Hall on London’s Southbank. As it panned across the city’s skyline he could be heard saying: ‘This is my spot Akhi (brothers). Attack, attack!’
Shehroz Iqbal, 28, filmed himself saying ‘attack, attack,’ at the Royal Festival Hall on London’s Southbank. He then shared the video in an extremist WhatsApp group called Light to Dark, which featured messages that celebrated the anniversary of 9/11 and branded moderate imams ‘grave-worshipping dogs’
Messages on the thread also included a celebration of the 18th anniversary of 9/11 which read: ‘Happy 9/11, it’s sweet 18 party’ and another branding moderate imams ‘grave-worshipping dogs.’
Iqbal posted a horrific video of ISIS jihadis violently seizing Ramadi, depicting soldiers who had tried to protect the Iraqi city lying dead on the ground.
He told police he had been ‘brainwashed’ but insisted that the homemade recording of the popular London attraction was simply an attempt to hone his pet training skills.
‘He said as far as the “attack” video is concerned he accepted he made it but said the reference to “attack, attack” was simply him practicing his dog commands as he wanted a German Shepherd dog like the one he had owned in Pakistan,’ prosecutor Kate Wilkinson said.
But an Old Bailey jury convicted him of encouraging terrorism and distributing terrorist propaganda.
Bearded Iqbal remained expressionless as Judge Philip Katz jailed him for eight and a half years.
The judge said: ‘From the evidence of those who have tried to help and the content of your WhatsApp communications, I am sure that when dealing with the authorities you will say whatever you think suits you better at the time.
‘You have blamed your offending on everything from drugs, to mental health issues to difficulties opening a bank account. You have even ironically blamed it on feeling you were the victim of racism.
‘Your explanation to the police for making the video was absurd. I am not surprised that you did go into the witness box and try it on with the jury.’
His lawyer Laurie-Ann Power said: ‘He is exactly the type of person who people with extremist mindsets prey on. He accepts his guilt. He recognises the impact that his offending behaviour would have on the public at large.
‘But the probation officer perhaps sums it up the best: “It seems to me at the time he committed these offences he was isolated and bored.”‘
Ms Wilkinson earlier told the court: ‘On 11 March he paid a visit to the Haywards Gallery just next to Waterloo Bridge.
‘He spent about an hour and a half there. He goes up the stairs.
‘It was a calm video, it was short but its message was clear.
Iqbal, from Gants Hill, Ilford, was jailed for eight and a half years. He was also convicted of being concerned in the supply of cocaine. In 2017 he was handed a suspended sentence after positing anti-semitic posters outside a synagogue
‘It spanned from across his vista and focused on the traffic passing on Waterloo Bridge and then he spoke rather chillingly to say: “This is my spot Akhi (brothers) central London. Attack. Attack”.
‘The Crown says that this was the defendant telling his “brothers,” his like-minded associates on the WhatsApp thread that this place – Royal Festival Hall, Haywards Gallery, Waterloo Bridge, was his spot, a very public popular attraction, to do what he goes on to say – attack, attack.
‘The Dark to Light thread came into existence on 24 January 2020, just after the previous thread was closed down.
Ms Wilkinson added: ‘He felt he was being brainwashed without the influence of the Home Office Desistance and Disengagement programme which he had participated in for almost a year.
‘He was someone who had been included in this programme because of some of the views he was already manifesting.’
Iqbal, of Kenwood Gardens, Gants Hill, Essex, denied but was convicted of encouraging terrorism and disseminating terrorist publications.
He was sentenced to an extended sentence of nine years; six of which will be spent behind bars and three out on release.
Judge Katz also jailed him for 30 months consecutively to the six years, for a single count being concerned in the supply of 2.62 grams of cocaine with a street value of £250.