June 24, 2010

"Leader of al Qaeda in the UK" Sentenced to 5 Years -- Rusty Testified at Trial **Sticky**

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Ishaq-Kanmi-umar-rabie.jpgYou'll note the quotation marks in the headline about the convicted online terror supporter Ishaq Kanmi. When I first started following the antics of "Umar Rabie al-Khalifah, the Leader of al Qaeda in Britain" I strongly suspected he was no such thing. But the fact that he was lying about being a leader of al Qaeda never suggested to me that he wasn't dangerous.

After all, this was a guy who was trolling the internet for volunteer suicide bombers to kill civilians. His worst offense was that he encouraged others to do what he himself, sadly, may never have gotten around to doing: becoming a martyr.

Kanmi and I are old acquaintances from our days on the Infovlad forum. Me as an administrator and Kanmi, using several aliases, as a cheerleader for al Qaeda. We even exchanged an email or two.

Hence, my involvement in the case was as a witness. I haven't spoken much publicly about this case because of my involvement, but it was not, as some have presumed, as an "expert witness". I had first hand knowledge of Kanmi's internet based crimes, and so that is what I testified to in court. Nothing else.

In fact, it was me that first notified the authorities about Kanmi's claims of being connected to al Qaeda and making the original death threats after tracing him to a public computer in Blackburn. Later, when Kanmi's threats were posted on an even bigger and more well connected jihad forum, the authorities took notice of him on their own.


Announcement banner posted by Kanmi of the creation of al Qaeda in Britain

At some point this led to them filming Kanmi using a computer at a public library downloading jihadi material -- a criminal offense in the UK. But it wasn't until Kanmi was about to leave the country that the police arrested him and his co-conspirators. In between his first threat and his arrest, Kanmi hooked up with a few other radicals in his area. They called themselves "The Blackburn Resistance" and even filmed themselves playing at being mujahideen [Video below].

I can't say whether the group would have ever done anything violent. They certainly came off as at least potentially dangerous in the video and online.

I first turned over evidence I had about Kanmi to the authorites in 2008. A big thanks goes out to a collaborator who helped me assemble the evidence. I'm not sure if he wishes to be publicly named at this point, but without his help there was no way I could have gathered this information. Thank you. You know who you are.

I then testified at Kanmi's trial last year. Because of the many death threats I've had over the years, I was allowed to testify under my pen name "Rusty Shackelford".

Here's how one newspaper put it last summer:

AN AMERICAN website moderator alerted police to a terror plot due to a message posted on the internet by a Blackburn man, a court heard.

The moderator of the Infovlad forum website told Preston Crown Court he contacted the Metropolitan Police when a user named Sheikh posted that he would carry out a suicide mission in London.

The user’s IP address was traced to 23-year-old Ishaq Kanmi, of Cromwell Street, Audley, Black-burn, the court heard....

The moderator, who was giving evidence under the pseudonym of Rusty Shackleford after an order was granted to protect his identity, said: “Another moderator deleted the post, but I saved it and gave it to the police.

"I called someone at the Metropolitan Police and emailed to someone working in the counter-terrorism unit.”

He added that, after reading a BBC report that a Britain had announced he was the UK al Qaida leader, he emailed the former Infovlad user to ask if he was the same person.

The moderator told the court: “He replied ‘yes’ and there would be an announcement. It got my attention.”

Beyond the professionalism and the courtesies showed to me by Manchester's finest, I'm not sure what else to say about the trial except that some of the defense lawyers questions were ... bizarre. Including one "A Few Good Men" moment where I was accused, in a rather accusatory and loud voice, of being a liar.

There were also some odd insinuations that I was a pawn in a vast conspiracy to entrap Kanmi. Weird.

And for you King of the Hill fans who understand about the name Rusty Shackleford, I was actually asked at one point if, well, here's one press report of the exchange:

Cross-examining the moderator, defence solicitor David Gottlieb pointed out that the pseudonym was the name used by character David Gribble in television show King of the Hill when ordering a pizza.

Mr Gottlieb said: “Gribble is a heavy smoking gun fanatic who believes any conspiracy theory available.

“Would that describe you in real life?”

The moderator replied: “No it would not.”

Yes, that actually happened!

Mostly I just testified about my email exchanges between myself and Kanmi. Kanmi had admitted to me in the emails that he was indeed the same person that had made the online threats using the "Umar Rabie" moniker. He even repeated the threat.

I also testified about certain personal information I had about Kanmi's online activities because of my status as an administrator on the now defunct Infovlad forum.

Kanmi was an active member of the forum for some time before he made the threats, and had developed some standing with some of the other hardcore jihad followers. Many of those members now run two other jihad forums: The Anti-Imperialist Muslim Forum was created by Infovlad members who I had either kicked out or who didn't like my involvement as an administrator; and the Ansar al-Mujahideen English Forum, which is staffed by a who's who of former Infovlad members.

Best part? All the robes and wigs.

Also, calling the judge "Your Lordship". Caveat: the judge, knowing I was from the US, told me that it was okay just to call him sir. But, come on, why would I ever pass up the opportunity at calling someone "me Lord"?

In the end, Kanmi pleaded guilty. I can only hope the evidence I provided made his lawyers think a second time about the original not-guilty plea. But, to be honest, I've no idea. Perhaps my testimony and the evidence I turned over didn't do a thing. I'm not sure what Kanmi could say after he was filmed logging in to a jihadi forum as Umar Rabie.

Today he was sentenced to five years:

A man who posed as the British leader of al-Qaida in calling for the assassination of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown was jailed for five years today....

He composed the internet messages on a public computer at the Central Library in Blackburn, Lancashire, where a surveillance operation was set up to catch him in the act. Officers stood behind Kanmi and captured him on camera openly downloading jihadi material. On one occasion he watched a video of guns being fired into the air....

"This defendant between May 2007 and until his arrest in August 2008 effectively devoted his time and energy for hours and days on end to further his aims. We will never know what, if any, success he had," he said.

On Kanmi's plea for martyrdom, the judge added: "We will never know whether out there some young man has turned to thoughts of violence in the cause. If there was not such a person it was not for want of trying on the defendant's part."...

Krenar Lusha, 30, was caught downloading a video on how to blow people up when police burst into his home in Derby. Officers also discovered 72 litres of petrol in the cellar of his terrace house and computer documents such as The Bomb Book and videos including Mobile Detonators.

Following a trial at Manchester crown court, Iqbal, a former classmate of Kanmi, was sentenced in March to two years in jail for dissemination of terrorist material and one year for preparing for acts of terrorism, to run concurrently.

He received sentences of five years' imprisonment for all his offences, apart from one count of dissemination in which he was given a four-year jail term. All sentences are to run concurrently.

I am a bit surprised by the five year sentence. It seems kind of lite.

One of his co-conspirators in the "Blackburn Resistance", Krenar Lusha, was given 7 years -- even though Kanmi was clearly the ringleader. But the lighter sentence probably reflects the holding off of several charges in return for a guilty plea -- the British equivalent to a plea bargain.

In any event, the case is now closed so I can move on to bigger and better things. I'm proud that I was able to be of a little service in first tipping off and then helping in the prosecution of this terrorist supporting scumbag. And that his surveillance also led the authorities to at least two others who had aspirations of doing harm to the innocents of the UK.

We once had an entire "Umar Rabie" archive here at the Jawa Report. But once it became clear that I was going to be involved in the prosecution's case against Kanmi, we made the decision to delete the archive. I'm going to restore the archive and I'll put links below the "Blackburn Resistance" video below to any of our previous stories that I can find.

Previous Posts on Umar Rabie:
Another Online "Pal" of Rusty's Found Guilty on Terror Charges
'Al Qaeda in Britain' Leader was Imam in Finland? 3 Appear in Court
Three Charged in 'al Qaeda in Britain' Plot; Umar Rabie ID'd
Fourth Arrested in Umar Rabie "al Qaeda in UK" Plot
Man Identified in "al Qaeda in Britain" Cell
Notorious al Qaeda Sympathizer was Security Guard
Emir of al Qaeda in Britain Arrested
Al-Qaeda to Britain..Leave Iraq and Afghanistan
Good News: "al Qaeda in Britain" Announced

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 11:51 PM | Comments |