Police officer given community order over pro-Hamas WhatsApp posts

UK

A police officer from West Yorkshire has been given a community order after posting images of Hamas fighters on Whatsapp, days after the 7 October attacks on Israel.

Mohammed Adil, from Wibsey in Bradford, escaped a prison sentence for supporting a proscribed terrorist organisation after telling the court he hoped to retrain and study for a PhD.

The 26-year-old had arrived at an earlier court hearing wearing the black and white keffiyeh adopted by Palestinian supporters.

He accepted that he had posted two images supporting the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the banned terrorist group, following the attacks in which Hamas killed 1,139 people.

The court heard he was a district student officer with West Yorkshire Police in the process of completing his “operational competencies” but had failed to complete all the requirements in time when a review of his progress was ordered in late October.

His supervising officer looked into his communications and noted a video posted on WhatsApp on 20 October which showed images of Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi leader, and rockets being launched with the text caption “rockets to Israel”.

Another video from 28 October, showed a man speaking in Arabic with English subtitles that made reference to purifying the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem from “the abomination of the Jews,” and the “aggressive Zionists.”

Image:
Adil was a serving police officer at the time of the offences. Pic: PA

On 31 October, the supervising officer saw a further video on Adil’s WhatsApp which referred to Yemeni armed forces having attacked “positions of the Zionist Israeli regime.”

Also on 31 October, another colleague saw an image that Adil had posted on his WhatsApp stories showing two men wearing headbands showing the logo associated with the military wing of Hamas.

Across the image were the words: “Today is the time for the Palestinian people to rise, set their path straight, and establish an independent Palestinian state” attributed to Muhammed Daif, leader of the al-Qassam Brigades.

On 4 November, Adil posted a video which showed a man wearing a red and white headscarf and headband displaying the al-Qassam Brigade logo.

The image was overlaid with a text reading: “We will hold accountable all those who occupied our lands, and Allah will hold accountable all those who remained silent against this occupation and oppression” attributed to Abu Ubayda, spokesman of the al-Qassam brigades.

A last posting on 7 November, featured a man speaking in Arabic with English subtitles who said: “Until Muslims fight the Jews, Muslims who are people of creed, people of faith, will kill them.”

He was then suspended and an investigation launched by Counter-Terrorism Policing North East.

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An examination of his phone revealed a list of companies to boycott for supporting Israel and memes that quoted: “Israel to the Arab world is like a cancer to the human body. Arabs should unite to uproot it”.

One video showed a speech by a person suggesting that the 7 October attacks were actually committed by soldiers from the Israeli Defence Forces.

Adil was charged under the Terrorism Act 2000 on May 1 and pleaded guilty the following day.

Bridget Fitzpatrick, prosecuting, told the court that Abid’s phone showed no other material giving rise to charges under the terrorism act but there was a “plethora of material that showed he had a longstanding interest in the politics of the Middle East, including pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli material, and a significant proportion related to Hamas or Hezbollah”.

The posts were made to the “stories” feature of his Whatsapp account, available for any of his 1,092 contacts to view for 24 hours.

Although the posts were not on an open forum, the offending was aggravated by the proximity to the 7 October attacks and “most obviously at the time of his offending he was a police officer,” the prosecutor said.

Adil stood in the dock in a white shirt unbuttoned at the collar and a dark-coloured tie, and spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address.

Natalie Turner, defending, said Adil had a “longstanding interest” in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and had family friends in the area.

“He has lost a career he worked incredibly hard to obtain and went into with the highest of intentions to support his local community. It is something he will never be able to go back to and that causes him great pain.”

She said Adil, who has a master’s degree planned to “start from scratch and forge a new career path” which involved taking a PhD but could not do so if he was given a custodial sentence.

Sentencing him to an 18-month community service order and 160 hours unpaid work, chief magistrate Paul Goldspring, told him the offences were “extremely serious and do cross the custody threshold”.

“You were a police officer and you should have known better. Quite rightly the public put you at a higher standard than they would others.”

However, he added: “You have already lost your employment as a police officer and if you want to go and do a PhD, some establishments won’t allow you if there has been a custodial sentence.

“I accept there is a proper prospect of rehabilitation. Immediate custody would have a significant impact on the support you give to your mother and sister.

“This was very much a one-off and your risk of re-offending and harm to the public is low.”

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Mohammed Adil understood that in sharing the images he did, it would arouse suspicion that he was showing support for a terrorist organisation.”

A spokesman for the Independent Office for Police Conduct said Adil was currently suspended and West Yorkshire Police would now arrange for formal disciplinary proceedings for gross misconduct.

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