Bookseller Ahmed Faraz jailed over Islamic books
A bookseller from Birmingham has been sentenced to three years in prison for possessing and distributing material which promoted extremism.
Ahmed Faraz had material including an al-Qaeda training manual, bomb-making instructions, and footage of murders – Briton Ken Bigley’s among them.
Faraz, 32, had claimed the material was for academic research.
Judge Justice Calvert-Smith said it was “grossly irresponsible” to publish the books in the way he had.
Faraz was found guilty of possessing and disseminating some of the most well-known publications found in the homes of people convicted of terrorism-related offences over the past decade.
Some of them were accounts of resistance by Muslims in various historic events, including the battle against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
Other material related more directly to al-Qaeda’s philosophy or its historic roots.
One of the books he was found guilty of disseminating through his Maktabah bookshop was an edition of Milestones, an important text in the development of Islamist political thinking in the 20th century.
The book, by Sayyid Qutb, is freely available and is studied widely. But police said the special edition of Milestones sold by Faraz was developed specifically to promote extremist ideology.
The edition of Lofty Mountain by Abduallah Azzam sold by Faraz contained endorsements by Osama Bin Laden, and was found to be in possession of Mohammed Sidique Khan, the ringleader in the 7 July bombings of 2005 in London.
Other charges related to military training videos, including bomb-making instructions.
The guilty man’s brother Razwan Faraz said he believed freedom of speech was being attacked
Judge Justice Calvert-Smith described it as “the first substantial case of its kind”.
He said: “It is grossly irresponsible to publish these books in the way that you have published them.
“They were published differently to appeal to young people who had recently converted to Islam or became more religiously inclined as they got older.”
He added: “These books did glorify terrorism. They implied approving of such attacks as 9/11 or 7/7.”
Faraz and Maktabah had no role in specific terror plots, the judge said, although Maktabah was unique in its commercial role as a publisher of extremist materials.
Mr Justice Calvert-Smith said he reduced Faraz’s sentence on account of his community work.
The court heard in mitigation from Daniel Friedman that Faraz carried out anti-drugs work and acted as a mentor to teenagers in the Sparkhill area.
His sentence was also reduced as he was convicted under the Terrorism Act 2006, new legislation that might have been difficult to interpret.
He will serve 18 months and remain on licence for the remainder of his sentence.