A 35-year-old Muslim woman who used Facebook as a “tool for terrorism” was sentenced to over five years in prison by a British court on Thursday. Runa Khan, a resident of Luton -- about 30 miles north of London -- had posted photos of suicide vests and asked other Muslim women to send their children to “fight for the sake of Allah” through her Facebook account, according to media reports.
Khan, who was arrested after police raided her home last October, had earlier pleaded guilty to four counts of distributing online booklets and articles promoting extremism between July and September 2013, according to media reports. These included an article entitled “Raising mujahid children” -- labeled by the judge hearing the case as “a manual encouraging women to carry out jihad” -- and another article named “Sisters' role in jihad off the battlefield.”
During her arrest, police also found photos on her cell phone of her two-year-old son with a toy assault rifle as well as of her other children holding swords, The Guardian reported, citing senior police officers.
She also reportedly wrote, in a separate Facebook post, about the day she would send one of her six sons off to fight in Syria. “I pictured the future while I was zipping up his jacket … I’ll be tying the shahada bandana round his forehead and hand him his rifle and send him out to play the big boy’s game.”
Peter Birts, the judge hearing the case, said that the “only fair interpretation” of these pictures and posts was that Khan intended to radicalize others.
“Your purpose was to encourage and promote your particular brand of violent fundamentalism,” Birts reportedly said, while sentencing Khan. “You were deeply committed to radicalizing others, including very young children, into violent jihadi extremism … You appear to have no insight into the effect of radicalizing your children, having selfishly placed your own ideology and beliefs above their welfare in your priorities.”
Khan’s sentencing comes just a week after two British men, who went to Syria to join al Qaeda-linked rebel fighters, were given prison sentences of over 12 years each.