Islamic State supporter convicted of urging fanatics to attack London

Shehroz Iqbal (29), claimed that in the video, he was saying “attack, attack” because he wanted a German Shepherd like his former pet dog, Rocky, and was practicing commands. But a jury rejected that explanation to find the 29-year-old guilty of all charges on Tuesday.

BY HITESH TIKOO

An Islamic State supporter has been convicted of encouraging terrorism with a video urging fanatics to attack central London.

Shehroz Iqbal (29), claimed that in the video, he was saying “attack, attack” because he wanted a German Shepherd like his former pet dog, Rocky, and was practicing commands. But a jury rejected that explanation to find the 29-year-old guilty of all charges on Tuesday.

The Old Bailey court heard that Iqbal travelled to the Southbank Centre on March 11 and filmed landmarks from the Hayward Gallery, an art gallery within the Southbank Centre in central London.

In a video shown to the court, Iqbal panned across Waterloo Bridge and the Royal Festival Hall before saying: “This is my spot akhi (brother) central London. Attack, attack.”

Prosecutor Kate Wilkinson said Iqbal posted the video in an extremist WhatsApp group to urge “like-minded associates” to carry out terror attacks.

The group named From Dark To Light, included a notorious Islamist preacher known as Abu Haleema who had links to Anjem Choudary and the London Bridge attack mastermind Khuram Butt.

The court heard that Iqbal followed Haleema on encrypted messaging app Telegram and had stored his videos on his phone.

Not providing the evidence on trial, Iqbal had told police that he had gone for a cycle ride to the Hayward Gallery and made the video to show off his bike.

He claimed that the reference to “attack, attack” was him practicing dog commands as he wanted a German Shepherd like a pet named Rocky from when he lived in Pakistan.

Prosecutor Wilkinson said: “That was a video not showing off his bike but rather saying to his friends ‘look what I might do’ � carry out an attack in central London in a public spot just like the Royal Festival Hall or Waterloo Bridge, just as others who shared his extremist Islamic views had done before on 9/11, in Manchester and on London Bridge.”

As Britain went into Covid lockdown in late March, Iqbal posted a 2015 Isis propaganda video on social media. The court heard that the video, which featured an image of a dead body, was viewed more than 200 times on his Facebook page.

The Metropolitan Police initially arrested him over the clip, then uncovered the Southbank Centre video later while examining his electronic devices.

Iqbal was found guilty of encouraging terrorism and disseminating terrorist material on Tuesday and will be sentenced on 20 November.

Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “I am very pleased with today’s verdict. Iqbal is a volatile man with an extremist mind-set who has now been brought to justice”.

“Thanks to the vigilance of counter-terrorism officers we identified Iqbal’s illegal activity and were able to prevent him from carrying out something far more harmful”.

“Every day the national counter terrorism police network is fighting terrorism. However, police also rely on information from the public and I urge everyone to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious at all to police whether they see it online or in the real world.”

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