Omar Ashfaq jailed for leaving 'violent footage' in shoes at mosques

Omar Ashfaq Image copyright East Midlands Special Operations Unit
Image caption The Crown Prosecution Service said it had "crucial evidence" to encourage Omar Ashfaq to admit 11 terrorism offences

A man who left USB sticks containing terrorist propaganda inside shoes at six mosques in England has been jailed.

Omar Ashfaq, 24, of St Thomas Road, in Derby, left 17 of the sticks in footwear while Muslim worshipers were praying between May and June last year.

Derbyshire Police said the sticks contained "violent footage and propaganda encouraging terrorism".

Ashfaq admitted 11 terrorism offences and was given four years and six months in prison at Birmingham Crown Court.

He was also sentenced to one year on licence.

During last year's Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, he left the sticks at mosques in Derby, Loughborough, Coventry, Birmingham and Luton.

Among the material were two videos entitled 'ISIS children execute spies' and 'ISIS burn Turkish Apostate soldiers'.

Worshippers who found the sticks informed mosque authorities who were able to identify Ashfaq from CCTV footage.

One USB stick was discovered by a nine-year-old boy, who had gone to the mosque with his father.

Image copyright East Midlands Special Operations Unit
Image caption A map labelled 'Target: 1 week' on which a route was drawn was found in Ashfaq's possession

When Ashfaq was arrested at his home, police found a further 15 memory sticks inside bags marked 'Manchester' and 'Bradford' and notes outlining his plans.

A map detailing a route between the mosques was also found.

Det Insp Donna Sisson, head of Derbyshire Special Branch, said he would have continued to distribute up to 250 sticks.

"The USB sticks he managed to deposit contained footage of unspeakable brutality and promoted an extreme ideology," she said.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Omar Ashfaq pleaded guilty to the eight charges on the first day of his trial at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday

In March, Ashfaq pleaded guilty to three counts of possession of a document containing information useful to terrorism.

He admitted being in possession of three Islamic State group propaganda magazines.

However, he denied eight charges of dissemination of a terrorist publication.

On the first day of his trial on Monday, Ashfaq changed his plea.

Deb Walsh, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Omar Ashfaq found a novel way to spread violent propaganda in the hope of encouraging British Muslims to commit terrorist acts.

"Instead the mosques he targeted found him on their CCTV recordings and handed in the footage and the memory sticks to the police.

"I want to thank them for acting quickly so the CPS had the crucial evidence we needed to encourage him to plead guilty."

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