Islamic extremist jailed for terror offences had waged campaign of hate against London’s Jewish community
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An Islamic extremist jailed for more than eight years at the Old Bailey last month after sharing terrorist material online had waged a four year long campaign of hate against London’s Jewish community.
A new report from the Community Security Trust (CST) has detailed the full extent of Shehroz Iqbal’s antisemitic activities ahead of his sentencing for two terrorism offences – posting an Islamic State propaganda video on his Facebook page, and making and sharing a video of himself outside the Hayward Gallery in central London while saying “attack, attack”.
The CST’s briefing document also urges the community to recognise that they should not “treat verbal abuse or antisemitic posters in local communities as somehow less important than racist violence or other forms of hate crime.”
Following the Ilford carpet-fitter’s conviction, Commander Richard Smith, Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, said Mr Iqbal was “a volatile man with an extremist mind-set” and claimed that his arrest “prevent[ed] him from carrying out something far more harmful.”
Judge Philip Katz QC remarked on sentencing that, “You had joined the ranks of radicalised extremists who support Isis in the UK, some of whom are notorious… I am sure that when you made and posted that short film, you intended members of the WhatsApp group to be encouraged to commission acts of terrorism”.
Jailing him for six years with a three-year extended licence period, Judge Philip Katz QC said: “You have a long history of unpleasant, antisemitic threats and harassment.”
He sentenced him for a further 30 months for one count of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and two counts of possession, taking Mr Iqbal’s total custodial sentence to eight-and-a-half years.
CST’s report reveals how they were first alerted to Mr Iqbal’s activity in 2016 after he made threatening and antisemitic comments to a visibly Jewish motorist in Stamford Hill, North London.
Mr Iqbal is alleged to have shouted, “I’m going to kill you, I’m going to kill all of you Jews, you killed my brothers”.
Volunteers from the local Jewish organisation Shomrim followed his car until officers from the Metropolitan Police intervened and arrested him.
After his arrest in October 2016 Mr Iqbal pleaded guilty of having made antisemitic death threats. He received a suspended 16-week jail sentence and 80 hours of unpaid work.
But Mr Iqbal would later make light of this situation by setting his Facebook profile picture in November 2017 to a photo of him being arrested by police.
In March 2017 CST received a report from a member of the public who had seen a man putting up antisemitic posters on the wall of the Chabad Lubavitch Centre in Gants Hill, Redbridge.
The poster read, “Jews are scum, you die”. Iqbal was later arrested for this offence and for putting up similar posters in the underpass of the Gants Hill Underground Station.
In September 2019, he pleaded guilty to these offences at Snaresbrook Crown Court and was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment suspended for 24 months, 30 days’ rehabilitation activity, 60 hours’ unpaid work and a £100 fine.
CST’s Pathway To Terror report reveals “this was just one of several reports of antisemitic hate crimes in the Gants Hill area that CST received during 2016 and the first half of 2017.
“These reports also involved a male matching Iqbal’s appearance shouting antisemitic abuse at people outside Jewish community buildings.
“It is not known whether Iqbal was responsible for any of these other incidents, but the similar descriptions of the offenders appeared to show a pattern of repeat offences by the same individual or individuals, targeting the same Jewish buildings in that area.”
By October 2017, Mr Iqbal had emailed Shomrim directly on two occasions. One email read:” “Hahaha ah so many people have taking [sic] the piss out of your Zionist murdering community.
“I have no remorse for what I done [sic] hahaha. I see many other people have committed offences like me. Allah O Akbar! Keep my picture up for I am smiling at the officer haha. My day will come where [sic] I will come and see you in your office regarding my picture. Your Zionist murdering community.”
Reported to the police for these emails, Mr Iqbal was in July 2018 sentenced to 11 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months, 60 hours’ unpaid community work, fined £115 and required to pay £85 court costs.
In September 2019, he received his third conviction for hate crime offences against the Jewish community when he was given a suspended sentence for putting antisemitic posters on the Chabad-Lubavitch Centre in Gants Hill.
Three days later, Mr Iqbal brazenly returned to the Chabad-Lubavitch Centre to make further threatening comments via the front door intercom system, including comments such as “I’m back” and “They couldn’t keep me in”. CST reported this incident to the police that same day.
“The fact that Iqbal returned so quickly to the Chabad-Lubavitch Centre, having been convicted of committing a hate crime against that same building, suggested that he posed an ongoing threat to the Centre,” reveals the CST report. “In response, CST implemented a security plan to ensure the Centre’s protection.”
During his trial at the Old Bailey, prosecutor Kate Wilkinson described Iqbal as an extremist who was “volatile and prone to act on his extremism”.
He spent an hour-and-a-half at the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank near the Royal Festival Hall and Waterloo Bridge making the clip.
In the footage played in court,Mr Iqbal said: “This is my spot Akhi (brothers) Central London. Attack, attack.”
He then sent the video to a WhatsApp group of 22 associates.
While on bail for the drugs matters and the video, Mr Iqbal posted a 2015 propaganda video depicting Islamic State fighters on social media.
The court heard that the video, which featured an image of a dead body, was viewed more than 200 times on the defendant’s Facebook page.
On his arrest in April, Mr Iqbal claimed he had been high on drugs when he posted the Facebook video without looking at it.
He explained the video at the Hayward Gallery by saying he had gone for a ride that day and made the film to show off his bike.
He claimed that the reference to “attack attack” was him practising dog commands as he wanted a German Shepherd like a pet named Rocky he had when he lived in Pakistan.
He declined to give evidence at trial.
The CST’s report also details how Mr Iqbal had expressed support for the extremist cleric and former Imam of Finsbury Park Mosque, Abu Hamza al-Masri, along with direct contact to an extremist linked to the Al-Muhajiroun, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
“Shehroz Iqbal’s arrest and conviction for terrorism offences was the culmination of a process of radicalisation and extremism that began with antisemitic verbal abuse on the streets of London,” the CST’s report concludes.
“ It is very possible that his arrest and successful prosecution have prevented Iqbal from taking further steps towards violence. Antisemitic hate crimes are an unfortunate reality for Jewish communities, and it is easy to treat verbal abuse or antisemitic posters in local communities as somehow less important than racist violence or other forms of hate crime.”
This case, say CST, “should be a sharp reminder of the importance of reporting these incidents, which can be a precursor of much more dangerous activities.
“(It) illustrates the nexus between online and offline actions, and how views expressed in public may only scratch the surface of wider forms of extremism expressed online. “
Source: The JC