Christine Rivière was handed the maximum sentence for her “unfailing commitment” to jihad and for helping a number of women travel to Syria to marry jihadists, including her son.
The 51-year-old, nicknamed ‘Mama Jihad’ in the French press, was convicted for being part of a terrorist organisation.
The sentencing comes a week after the conviction of Nathalie Haddadi, a mother of a French jihadist who was given a two-year prison sentence for financing terrorism after transferring money to him. Rivière, who converted to Islam in 2012, travelled to Syria three times to meet her son Tyler Vilus between 2013 and 2014.
Vilus, 27, travelled to Syria to fight alongside the Islamic State group (ISIS).
He is believed to have been close to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind behind the Paris terror attacks.
He was arrested in Turkey in 2015 and is awaiting trial in France. Rivière was arrested in July 2012 as she was preparing a fourth visit to Syria.
She was accused of aiding her son’s terrorist activities by giving him money as well as sharing his extremist ideas. Rivière denied fighting for ISIS, but posted propaganda images and pictures of herself holding a Kalashnikov on Facebook.
Her lawyer Thomas Klotz said she was “completely lost” and only had a rudimentary knowledge of Islam.
Two football fans who ripped up pages of the Koran, the Islamic holy book, “like confetti” at a game have been found guilty of a religiously-aggravated public order offence.
Middlesbrough supporters Julie Phillips, 50, and Gemma Parkin, 18, denied knowing the book was a copy of the Koran. Parkin told Birmingham Magistrates’ Court she was given the book at a Birmingham market and did not know what it was. Philips claimed she was simply trying to make “confetti” to throw during the game.
Passing sentence, court chairman Gordon Sayers said: “This was a very unpleasant offence and there was a degree of pre-planning involved.”
March 18, 2014
Khadija Shah, a 26-year-old British woman of Pakistani descent, was sentenced to life in prison in Pakistan on Tuesday after being convicted of trying to smuggle 63 kilograms of heroin out of the country. According to reports, Shah was arrested at the Islamabad airport in May 2012 after the heroin was discovered in several suitcases in her possession. She has claimed that she was carrying the cases for someone else and was unaware of their contents. Her lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, said they would appeal the conviction — given by the Special Narcotics Court in Rawalpindi — next week.
Maya Foa, the director of legal charity Reprieve’s Death Penalty team, said the conviction was “a terrible outcome” for Shah and her baby girl, who was born in prison; Shah was six-months pregnant at the time she was arrested. Foa urged the British government to “ensure that Khadija gets the urgent assistance she needs to appeal her sentence so that her baby doesn’t grow up behind bars.” A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said they were aware of the case and providing Shah and her family with “consular assistance.”
March 5, 2014
A French convert to Islam was convicted of using the Internet to disseminate terrorist propaganda and promote participation in terrorist acts and was sentenced by a Paris court to one year in prison and two more on probation late Tuesday. The case is the first using a law passed in 2012 that makes “cyber jihad” a crime and potentially has serious consequences for freedom of expression in France. The law was passed in response to the attacks in Toulouse by Mohammed Merah, who killed seven people including three children and apparently was inspired in part by extremist Internet postings. The maximum sentence in Tuesday’s case could have been five years in prison, and the relatively light term given to Romain Letellier, 27, suggested that both prosecutors and judges were still considering how to apply the new law. The prosecutor said that the trial was happening in a context where young people become radicalized rapidly after reading material on the Internet.
February 26, 2014
The two religious fanatics who murdered Lee Rigby screamed a final act of defiance in court on Wednesday as they fought with guards and were dragged from the dock prior to receiving a whole-life and life sentence respectively for their killing of the 25-year-old soldier. In dramatic scenes Michael Adebolajo shouted “Allahu Akbar” meaning “God is the Greatest” before being told he would die behind bars while Michael Adebowale joined the outburst, saying that “Britain and America would never be safe”. The pair were restrained and wrestled to the ground before being taken down to the cells. Their cries had been retaliation to the judge’s conclusion that their barbaric act had been a “betrayal of Islam”.
The judge said the 29-year-old Adebolajo had “no prospect of rehabilitation” as he handed him the ultimate sentence available. 22-year-old Adebowale’s defence team said a whole-life sentence would have been “inhuman” and he was given a life sentence to serve a minimum of 45 years – saved from a whole-life tariff because of his age.
Former Conservative MP Louise Mensch made a PR error in the wake of the sentencing of Lee Rigby’s killers. Mensch tweeted: “One of the aims of #LeeRigby’s murderers was to stir up religious hatred and we must not allow them to succeed in their aim. #Islam #Peace” and trying to convince her followers she was in touch with British Muslims she tweeted:
“When I think of British Muslims I think of @Mo_Farah @SayeedaWarsi @RaheemJKassam @SunnyHundal @YasminQureshiMP &c not these fools #LeeRigby”
However Sunny Hundal was born to Sikh parents of Indian origin and despite having a beard, is not Muslim. He tweeted back at her “Erm, I’m not Muslim Louise. Parents are Sikh”. After Twitter users criticised her for her mistake, Mensch argued: “I’ve thought he was Muslim for ages. Based on his politics, tweets.” However this spawned the hashtag #tweetlikeamuslim with users tweeting things like “Crikey that’s a nice minaret”, whilst others tweeted “I’m not Muslim Louise.”
Sunny Hundal told The Independent that he is not a Muslim and that he plans to tweet like a Sikh from now on.
February 28, 2014
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether prison officials in Arkansas may prohibit inmates from growing beards in accordance with their religious beliefs.
The policy was challenged by Gregory H. Holt, who is serving a life sentence for burglary and domestic battery. Mr. Holt said his Muslim faith required him to grow a beard.
The state’s policy allows trimmed mustaches, along with quarter-inch beards for those with dermatological problems. Prison officials said the ban on other facial hair was needed to promote “health and hygiene,” to minimize “opportunities for disguise” and to help prevent the concealment of contraband.
Mr. Holt sued under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a federal law that requires prison officials to show that policies that burden religious practices advance a compelling penological interest and use the least restrictive means to do so. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in St. Louis, ruled in June that the justifications offered by the officials satisfied that standard.
Mr. Holt filed a handwritten petition in September asking the justices to hear his case, Holt v. Hobbs, No. 13-6827, pointing out that other courts had struck down policies banning beards in prisons. In an interim order in November, the Supreme Court ordered that Mr. Holt be allowed to grow a half-inch beard.
NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/04/us/supreme-court-agrees-to-weigh-arkansas-inmates-right-to-grow-a-beard.html?action=click&module=Search®ion=searchResults%230&version=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DHomepage%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3DHomepage%26t%3Dqry714%23%2Fmuslim%2F30days%2Fallresults%2F1%2Fallauthors%2Fnewest%2F&_r=0
February 14, 2014
The three individuals suspected of stealing tests from the Ibn Ghaldoun school in Rotterdam have been convicted for the theft and distribution of 27 exam papers. The sentence is one month in jail and 170 hours community service. Since all three spent time in custody during the investigation, they will not have to return to jail to complete the sentence. The three have also been told they are responsible for paying 86,000 euros to the education ministry to cover the cost of exam retakes.
Dutch News: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2014/02/school_exam_thieves_now_face_b.php
Earlier euro-islam news summary of the issue: http://www.euro-islam.info/2013/06/20/national-final-exams-stolen-at-rotterdam-islamic-school/
January 30, 2014
One of the two men found guilty of murdering off-duty British soldier Lee Rigby, has lodged an application to appeal against his conviction, the Judicial Office confirmed today. Adebolajo, 29, from Romford, east London, said during the trial that he was a “soldier of Allah” and that the killing was an act of war. He and his co-defendant Michael Adebowale, 22, from Greenwich, south-east London, are currently awaiting sentencing.
The men were cleared of the attempted murder of a police officer, and had previously admitted possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. Mr Justice Sweeney said he will sentence the pair after a key Court of Appeal ruling on the use of whole-life jail terms. A date for the appeal judgment has not been announced following a recent hearing before a panel of five leading judges, headed by Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas.
The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/rigby-killer-michael-adebolajo-launches-appeal-against-conviction-9095667.html
January 25, 2014
A British pensioner with a history of severe mental illness has been sentenced to death in Pakistan after being found guilty of breaching the country’s blasphemy laws. Muhammad Asghar, 69, from Edinburgh, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and is unaware that he is ill following a stroke, was convicted at the end of a trial in Rawalpindi in which it was alleged he claimed to be the prophet Mohammed. During the case, which was heard without a jury, the judge forcibly removed his independent lawyers from the court and appointed a state counsel on the defendant’s behalf.
His treatment has been severely criticised by human rights organisations which have long campaigned against Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy legislation which, according to Amnesty International, has created a climate of fear and murderous vigilantism in the devoutly Muslim country where allegations of religious crime are routinely used to persecute minorities.
Mr Asghar’s lawyers and his doctor are desperately concerned for his wellbeing after he attempted suicide following his incarceration in 2010. His condition is getting worse and he requires complex daily medication as well as psychological and social care but is instead sharing a crowded cell with other prisoners. The conviction is now being appealed although it could take five years before it is heard.
Dr Jane McLennan of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Edinburgh – a leading authority on psychiatric illness in older people – said that to properly analyse his behaviour she would be required to repeat her patient’s claims – potentially running the risk of being considered blasphemous herself. Thus the very nature of the charges in Pakistan makes it difficult for a mental health professional to indulge in a full discussion of the proper diagnosis.”
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We strongly object to the use of the death penalty and will continue to provide consular assistance to him and his family during this difficult time. We have continuously made representations to the Pakistan government on behalf of Mr Asghar and we will continue to do so. We are opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances and we are dedicated to doing all we can to prevent the execution of any British national.”
The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/death-sentence-for-british-pensioner-accused-of-blasphemy-in-pakistan-9083235.html
The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/10595398/British-schizophrenic-sentenced-to-death-for-blasphemy-in-Pakistan.html
A 26-year-old Laurel man was sentenced Monday to seven years in prison after he admitted traveling to Africa to try to join the terrorist group al-Shabab and trashing his home computer so federal investigators could not track him, authorities said.
Craig Baxam was arrested by Kenyan authorities in December 2011, and he soon told FBI agents of his haphazard plan to elude them and connect with al-Shabab because he wanted to live somewhere that rigorously adhered to sharia, or Islamic, law, court papers say. He pleaded guilty to a charge of destroying records that might be used in a terrorism investigation and received the seven-year sentence as part of an agreement with federal prosecutors, authorities said.
Federal investigators have long worked to root out so-called homegrown terror suspects, and Special Agent Stephen E. Vogt, who heads the FBI’s Baltimore division, said in a statement that Baxam’s case “highlights the FBI’s highest investigative priority, the prevention of terrorist acts.” But the resolution of the case seems to demonstrate that Baxam did not precisely fit the bill of a would-be terrorist.
Baxam was not convicted of the initial charge of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization, and his attorney, Linda Moreno, said he never advocated specific violence, nor did he procure weapons or attend any terrorist training camps.
A 2005 graduate of Laurel High School who was born in Takoma Park, Baxam had experience in the Army and admitted to investigators that he was willing to commit violence, according to the criminal complaint against him. But he said that he felt offensive jihad was questionable, and his main use for violence would be to defend al-Shabab’s Somali territories from potential invaders, according to the complaint.
Moreno said that the violence he spoke of was only hypothetical, “based on interviews with the FBI where the FBI asked him what if this happened, what if that happened, what if the following.”
“Craig wanted to live and practice his religion in a country where he felt that Muslims were not oppressed,” Moreno said. “This was not a terrorism case.”
Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/seven-year-sentence-for-laurel-man-who-tried-to-join-up-with-al-shabaab-terrorist-group/2014/01/13/539c5d8a-7c80-11e3-95c6-0a7aa80874bc_story.html