A Twitter user in Nottinghamshire, who encouraged others to commit terrorism, has been jailed.
Ajmal Shahpal published tweets in September 2020 showing support for a terrorist who attacked members of the public close to Charlie Hebdo’s former offices in Paris, France, a day earlier.
The 41-year-old also posted tweets the following month, praising the murder of teacher Samuel Paty, who was killed in a Paris suburb after showing students cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. He posted further messages encouraging similar violence.
Shahpal, of Radford in Nottingham, was arrested at his home in March 2021 and was subsequently charged in April 2022.
After a trial at Birmingham Crown Court, he was found guilty by a jury of publishing statements on his Twitter account, between 15 October 2020 and 30 October 2020, intentionally encouraging members of the public to commit, prepare, or instigate terrorism. He was also found guilty of publishing statements on his Twitter account, on 26 September 2020, recklessly encouraging the commission, preparation, or instigation of terrorism.
On Thursday 11 May 2023, Shahpal was sentenced to a total of five-and-half-years in prison and will serve an additional year on extended licence.
He was also made subject of a 15-year terrorist notification requirement once released, requiring he provide police with certain information, for this specified amount of time, enabling him to be monitored and managed around any ongoing risk posed.
Detective Inspector David Bola, of Counter Terrorism Policing East Midlands, said: “The tweets in question showed clear support for those who carried out terrorist attacks and were considered to be a call for action inciting others to act in the manner demonstrated by those attackers.
“The account was used by Shahpal to share an extremist ideology and his tweets in support for ‘the punishment of blasphemers’ were clearly inflammatory, inciting and potentially deadly.
“Today’s outcome is the result of a collaborative effort involving officers and staff across the East Midlands region and Counter Terrorism Policing network, who work hard to protect our communities from terrorism.
“Judge Inman KC thanked the investigation team for their thoroughness and hard work in getting the case before the court.
“Our number one priority is always public safety and that’s why we work so closely with our counter terrorism partners and other agencies.
“Police will always act on information relating to terrorism and continue to work tirelessly to root out offenders, as well as take a multi-agency approach to protecting vulnerable people from being exploited by extremists.
“If you’ve noticed a family member or friend is acting differently, their behaviour has changed or you are concerned they have started to have extreme views then please act early and report it at the earliest opportunity.
“If you see or hear something that doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts and ACT by reporting to police in confidence at gov.uk/ACT. In an emergency, always dial 999.”
Report online material promoting terrorism or extremism via https://www.gov.uk/report-terrorism
If you’re worried someone may be vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism, call the ACT Early Support Line on 0800 011 3764, in confidence, to share your concerns with our specially trained officers.