A young woman has been jailed for three-and-half years for openly advocating violent jihad and instigating people on Twitter to indulge in “terrorist activities”.
Alaa Esayed, 22, posted more than 45,000 tweets in Arabic on an open account to her 8,240 followers between June 2013 and May 2014, The Guardian reported.
Her Twitter account — with profile picture of a burqa-clad, kalashnikov- wielding woman — was even noticed by al-Qaida, which listed it as among the 66 most important jihadi accounts.
Esayed, from Kennington, south London, was sentenced at the Old Bailey on June 11 after pleading guilty to encouraging terrorism.
“This material and its dissemination is an important factor in the encouragement of young men and women to travel abroad and engage in acts of terrorism,” judge Charles Wide said.
“It is a matter of great and justified public concern. You were disseminating such material on a massive scale over a period of just short of a year. An indication of how busy you were in this activity is that on a site associated with al-Qaida your Twitter account was noted to be one of 66 important jihadi accounts.”
He told her she knew “perfectly well” what she had been doing, despite initially claiming she only wanted to learn about Muslim struggles in Iraq, Syria and Palestine and was merely cutting and pasting from other sources with her limited understanding of written Arabic.
Esayed said she was promoting the interests of the Sunni community in Iraq from Shia military forces.
Because of her “blatant untruthfulness” the judge said, he had difficulty accepting anything she said through her lawyer.
However, he did accept there was no evidence to suggest she was planning to engage in terrorism herself or had posted anything of a “practical nature”.
Esayed was brought up in Mosul, Iraq, and came to Britain with her family in 2007 after her father, who worked for the military, was forced to flee the country.
Most of Esayed’s posts were cut and pasted from other sources and she insisted she did not support violent jihad.
In her statement to the police after her arrest Esayed said she had no intention of being a martyr and she could not even read or write Arabic well.
Her lawyer, Tanveer Qureshi, said in mitigation: “Yes, she is a Twitter terrorist, but she is a Twitter terrorist who lacked creativity. She did not have a blog. She was blindly cutting and pasting.”
He said her postings were just propaganda and there was no practical advice to any budding terrorists.