British woman jailed for Al-Qaeda-inspired stabbing of MP
A British woman radicalised by online sermons from an Al-Qaeda cleric linked to the air cargo bomb plot was jailed for life on Wednesday for trying to kill a lawmaker in revenge for the invasion of Iraq.
Roshonara Choudhry, a 21-year-old student, stabbed former minister Stephen Timms twice in the stomach when she went to meet him at his constituency office in east London on May 14 this year, shortly after the general election.
The case has reportedly prompted Britain to urge the White House to order US websites hosting jihadi videos to remove the material after it emerged Choudhry had watched sermons by Yemeni-US cleric Anwar al-Awlaki on the Internet.
"You intended to kill in a political cause and to strike at those in government by doing so," said Judge Jeremy Cooke, sitting at London's Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey.
"You did so as a matter of deliberate decision-making, however skewed your reasons, from listening to those Muslims who incite such action on the internet."
Choudhry was found guilty on Tuesday of attempted murder and of two counts of possessing a knife. The judge passed a life sentence with a minimum term of 15 years, saying she would likely remain a danger to lawmakers.
She told police after her arrest that she wanted to kill Timms because he voted in favour of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. She was found guilty on Tuesday of attempted murder and of two counts of possessing a knife.
She appeared by videolink, after refusing to attend court because she said she did not recognise its jurisdiction. Wearing a black headscarf and glasses, she spoke only to confirm her name.
The judge said she had "absorbed" jihadi material from the Internet, adding: "You said you ruined the rest of your life. You said it was worth it. You said you wanted to be a martyr."
A group of men in the court's public gallery began shouting "Allahu akhbar" ("God is greater"), "British go to hell" and "Curse the judge" after the sentencing.
According to British media, police believe the once moderate Muslim and former student at London's prestigious King's College was radicalised by watching English-language online jihadi sermons by Awlaki.
Yemeni prosecutors accused Awlaki on Tuesday of having links to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and of incitement to kill foreigners, following the discovery of two parcel bombs on US-bound flights last Friday.
The jury heard during the trial that Choudhry pretended to shake hands with Timms before stabbing him with a kitchen knife "to get revenge for the people of Iraq".
Timms, who has since made a full recovery, said the sentence was "appropriate".
He added that the case "raises questions" about foreign websites which host jihadi material, adding: "As I understand it, the material she accessed would be illegal if it were hosted in the UK."
The Daily Telegraph reported that British security minister Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones made a private speech in the United States last week urging the White House to order the removal of jihadi material from US-based servers.
British Interior Minister Theresa May also warned Wednesday of the dangers of AQAP's internet "propaganda" in the wake of the case, saying it "encourages acts of terrorism."
"We have seen the damage this propaganda can cause in the ongoing case of the attack on the MP (member of parliament) Stephen Timms," she said in a speech to the Royal United Services Institute in London.
A spokesman for video-sharing website YouTube said it was "looking into the new videos that have been raised with us" and would remove any that broke its rules prohibiting hate speech or incitement to violence.
© 2010 AFP