Mohammed Zahir Khan

Mohammed Zahir Khan is an imprisoned British propagandist who voiced support for ISIS and sectarian violence on social media. He had been scheduled for early release in February 2020 but was kept in prison after the British government passed emergency legislation to end the early release of convicted terrorists.“Britain moves to end early release of convicted terrorists,” Reuters, February 11, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-security-law/britain-moves-to-end-early-release-of-convicted-terrorists-idUSKBN2051II; “Emergency terror law clears parliamentary hurdles,” BBC News, February 24, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-51623028.

Originally from Birmingham, England, Khan had been arrested on various drug charges. He moved to Sunderland in 2013 to escape the “gang members and crime” in Birmingham.“Sunderland shopkeeper jailed for terror posts,” Sunderland Echo, May 2, 2018, https://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/sunderland-shopkeeper-jailed-terror-posts-350919. Khan was on probation in 2014 when the Syrian civil war began. He queried his probation officer about traveling to Syria on a humanitarian mission. The probation officer told him he could not travel outside the country.“Sunderland shopkeeper jailed for terror posts,” Sunderland Echo, May 2, 2018, https://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/sunderland-shopkeeper-jailed-terror-posts-350919.

In 2016 and 2017, Khan made a series of pro-ISIS and extremist posts on social media. Khan retweeted a post calling for ISIS attacks on U.S. bases in Bahrain.James Cartledge, “Shopkeeper who backed Islamic State and called for Shia Muslims to be burnt to death is jailed,” Birmingham Mail, May 2, 2018, https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/shopkeeper-who-backed-islamic-state-14607149. In December 2016, he shared a terrorist publication of an “ISIS call for attacks” on Twitter. On December 4, Khan called for “death to Shias” on Twitter. On December 30, Khan tweeted several images, including one of an armed individual captioned “The Lone Mujahid.” On December 31, he replied to another Twitter user that there is “NOTHING wrong with chopping off heads of your enemies.”“Sunderland shopkeeper jailed for terror posts,” Sunderland Echo, May 2, 2018, https://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/sunderland-shopkeeper-jailed-terror-posts-350919; Mark White, “Govt rushes to prevent release of terrorist who called for ‘year of fear,’” Sky News, February 6, 2020, https://news.sky.com/story/terror-prisoner-set-for-release-had-called-for-year-of-fear-11927196. Khan also called for Shiite Muslims to be burned alive.“Sunderland shopkeeper jailed over IS terror posts,” BBC News, May 2, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tyne-43978777.

According to police, “Khan openly disseminated material over the internet that promoted terrorism and hatred of others.”Kate Proctor and Dan Sabbagh, “Rush to change sentencing laws before release of convicted terrorists,” Guardian (London), February 5, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/feb/05/terror-sentencing-laws-could-be-brought-in-by-the-end-of-february. Khan was arrested at his Sunderland shop in November 2017.Mark White, “Govt rushes to prevent release of terrorist who called for ‘year of fear,’” Sky News, February 6, 2020, https://news.sky.com/story/terror-prisoner-set-for-release-had-called-for-year-of-fear-11927196; “Sunderland Man Jailed For Terror Tweets,” Heart Radio, May 2, 2018, https://www.heart.co.uk/northeast/news/local/sunderland-man-jailed-for-terror-tweets/; Dan Bloom, “Terror convict shopkeeper whose release is set to be blocked one day after emergency law,” Mirror (London), February 6, 2020, https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/terror-convict-shopkeeper-whose-release-21442100. Police found pro-ISIS videos on Khan’s computer after his arrest.“Sunderland shopkeeper jailed over IS terror posts,” BBC News, May 2, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tyne-43978777. Khan claimed he never supported or believed in ISIS, which he said would punish him for selling alcohol. He admitted to encouraging terrorism, dissemination of a terror publication, and stirring up religious hatred. He claimed he had been “reckless” with his postings and “may have come across inadvertently supporting” ISIS.“Sunderland shopkeeper jailed over IS terror posts,” BBC News, May 2, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tyne-43978777. Judge Paul Sloan QC told Khan he had demonstrated “an uninhibited hatred for Shiite Muslims, President Assad and his regime, non-believers and hatred for some Western countries such as the US.”James Cartledge, “Shopkeeper who backed Islamic State and called for Shia Muslims to be burnt to death is jailed,” Birmingham Mail, May 2, 2018, https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/shopkeeper-who-backed-islamic-state-14607149. Khan was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison.“Sunderland shopkeeper jailed over IS terror posts,” BBC News, May 2, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-tyne-43978777.

Khan was scheduled for early release halfway through his sentence on February 28, 2020.“Emergency terror law clears parliamentary hurdles,” BBC News, February 24, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-51623028. British law allows for convicts serving fixed-term sentences to be released halfway through the term and complete the remainder of the sentence on home arrest under specific conditions. A parole board is not involved in the early release decision.“Leaving Prison,” Gov.UK, accessed February 25, 2020, https://www.gov.uk/leaving-prison. On February 2, 2020, Sudesh Amman wounded three people during a stabbing spree in Streatham, London. Amman had been released from prison on January 23, 2020, halfway through his more-than-three-year sentence on terrorism charges.Daniel De Simone, “Sudesh Amman: Who was the Streatham attacker?,” BBC News, February 3, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-51351885. In response, the British government introduced emergency legislation that February to prevent people convicted of terrorism from being released after serving half their sentences. The Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill required convicted terrorists to serve at least two-thirds of their sentences and then receive approval from a parole board before early release. Both houses of parliament approved the bill by February 24.“Britain moves to end early release of convicted terrorists,” Reuters, February 11, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-security-law/britain-moves-to-end-early-release-of-convicted-terrorists-idUSKBN2051II; “Emergency terror law clears parliamentary hurdles,” BBC News, February 24, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-51623028. The new law blocked the early release of approximately 50 convicts, including Khan.“Britain moves to end early release of convicted terrorists,” Reuters, February 11, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-security-law/britain-moves-to-end-early-release-of-convicted-terrorists-idUSKBN2051II; “Emergency terror law clears parliamentary hurdles,” BBC News, February 24, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-51623028.

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On October 23, 2017, Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) attacked two separate police posts in Mali’s Segou region and ambushed a Malian vehicle near Tenenkou. The Malian military confirmed several casualties. 

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