A court has found that a Leicester man showed a beheading video to a child and convicted him of disseminating “terrorist propaganda.”
Nottingham Crown Court found that pharmacist Zameer Ghumra, 38, showed the boy a graphic video on his mobile phone. Ghumra will be sentenced on Friday.
During the trial, prosecutor Simon Davis said Ghumra believed in a “very, very, very extreme” form of Islam.
The court heard he had been working as a pharmacist in Northamptonshire and told a customer members of ISIS were “not bad people, they’re only defending themselves.”
He “brainwashed” the two children, instructing them to not have non-Muslim friends and asking if they wanted to join the terrorist group or help recruit others to its ranks, the jury was told.
The older boy described being shown “horrible and disgusting” beheading videos, and asked Ghumra “how can you behead people?” He said Ghumra replied: “If you truly believe in Allah, you can do it.”
In a police interview played to the court, the younger child said: “He put us on Twitter. He told us to follow whoever he followed. He was following ISIS and really bad people.” He also said Ghumra gave them business cards – which were shown to the jury – with the boy’s names and email addresses alongside a picture of a rifle.
The jury heard he used a rented house to teach children about jihad and the boys were not allowed non-Muslim friends. The boy said Mr Ghumra asked him to choose between going to Iraq or Syria, or staying in the UK and “manipulating” other people into supporting ISIS.
After Ghumra’s arrest at Birmingham Airport in September 2015, a computer was seized showing 1,600 search results for terms including “survival knives” and “bushcraft.” But when police searched his home, neither the phone containing the beheading video or the video itself were recovered.
Giving evidence in his defence, Ghumra had claimed he had been won over by “one face” of ISIS and that he believed they were trying to achieve peace in the Middle East. He said he had, at one stage, thought about going to Syria to work for ISIS as a pharmacist for the group, which he now agreed were “extremists” and “terrorists.”
Ghumra claimed the two boys were lying in their testimony, influenced by their “evil” mother. He said he practiced throwing knives with the boys because he was a “big fan of Ray Mears” and loved the outdoors.
At the start of his evidence he said: “The prosecution has had a week to paint me as a monster. I’ve always been, and still am, anti-violence. That might come as a shock compared to what you’ve seen in the last week. I made a mistake. I thought this was their real face but it wasn’t. I realised ISIS was starting to make their own violence. As soon as I realised that I parted ways.”
Following the verdict Sue Hemming, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Zameer Ghumra tried to brainwash impressionable children with this violent ideology by making one watch beheading videos and urging them both to adopt a hard-line religious outlook. The children were brave to give evidence and we would like to thank them for helping to secure this conviction of a dangerous man.”
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