May 31, 2018
A social media website used by a British Isil supporter to urge his followers to target Prince George and send 300,000 hate-filled messages is a "mouthpiece" for terrorism, the Home Secretary has warned.
Telegram app is mouthpiece for terror, Sajid Javid says as jihadi admits encouraging attack on Prince George
Husnain Rashid, 32, was warned that he could face life behind bars after dramatically changing his plea on a string of terror offences midway through his trial at Woolwich Crown Court.
He used the Telegram instant messaging app, which has military-grade encryption, to provide an “e tool-kit for terrorism” and called on supporters to target the four-year-old heir to the throne when he started school.
Rashid also urged followers to carry out terror attacks at next month's World Cup in Russia and encouraged them to inject cyanide into fruit and vegetables at grocery stores and poison into ice cream.
His “prolific” activities specialised in assisting the “lone wolf” attacker, urging them to carry out attacks with poison, chemicals, bombs and knives.
Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, told The Daily Telegraph: "The UK is leading international work to make sure internet companies take a proactive approach to terrorist content on their platforms.
"We have been clear that some platforms, such as Telegram, have not been doing enough. If companies do not want to be a mouthpiece for the vile ideology of Daesh then they need to act now.”
Theresa May warned earlier this year that Telegram has become a "home to terrorists and criminals" as she urged investors to put pressure on the company.
Between November 2016 and his arrest on 22 November last year Rashid sent 360,000 messages on 150 different chat threads on Telegram. However police have only been able to access a small handful of the messages.
Telegram app is mouthpiece for terror, Sajid Javid says as jihadi admits encouraging attack on Prince George
Annabel Darlow QC, prosecuting, said Telegram offered users a high level of security using end-to-end encryption and allowed them to create groups or channels to broadcast messages to a large audience.
As a result, she said, it provided a “highly secure” means of communication for terrorist and other criminal networks.
“Whereas other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, have begun taking action against ISIS, Telegram has so far refused to remove private conversations or chats,” she said.
“Telegram users can exchange messages and files with other Telegram users over an internet connection. Anything sent over Telegram is therefore unintelligible to anyone other than the intended user or users.”
Telegram app is mouthpiece for terror, Sajid Javid says as jihadi admits encouraging attack on Prince George
When Rashid was arrested at his home in Nelson, Lancs, several devices including two mobile phones and a laptop were recovered by officers.
But despite repeated pleas, he refused to provide the PIN codes required to access two of them, forcing prosecutors to admit that the material before the court was likely just a sample, representing “an unknown proportion” of his terror-related activities.
“Analysis by the investigators of huge quantities of encrypted material in the defendant’s possession has proved impossible,” Ms Darlow said.
Telegram app is mouthpiece for terror, Sajid Javid says as jihadi admits encouraging attack on Prince George
Rashid was linked online to Omar Hussain, a terrorist fighting in Syria who is thought to have been killed by IS last summer and Mohammed Saboor, who was convicted in May 2015 of supplying Hussain with protective ballistic glasses.
He admitted three counts of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts and one of encouraging terrorism.
Judge Andrew Lees remanded him in custody ahead of sentencing on June 28, telling him: “For the past week I have listened to the most disturbing allegations.
Telegram app is mouthpiece for terror, Sajid Javid says as jihadi admits encouraging attack on Prince George
"It is inevitable that you will receive a lengthy prison sentence and there will be consideration of a life imprisonment sentence in your case."
Telegram has offices in London, Berlin and Singapore but is largely based in Dubai, meaning it does not have to provide UK authorities access to its encrypted data.
Pavel Durov, the chief executive of Telegram, said in December last year: “We consider freedom of speech an undeniable human right. Telegram has been blocking hundreds of violent public channels daily.
“Our neutrality and refusal to take sides...can create powerful enemies. Doing the right thing is more important than trying to avoid having enemies.”
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