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Hi-tech terrorist hid Islamic State activities in cuff link

Crime WorldBy Sunday World
samata ullah.jpg
samata ullah.jpg

A hi-tech terrorist has admitted hiding his Islamic State activities in a James Bond-style cuff link.

Samata Ullah, 34, from Cardiff, admitted membership of IS in September last year, being involved in terrorist training, and preparation of terrorist acts.

At the time of his arrest, he had a USB cufflink with a Linux operating system loaded onto it to conceal a hoard of extremist data, including a blog.

At an Old Bailey hearing, Ullah pleaded guilty to five terror offences including possession of an article for terrorist purposes on or before September 22 last year.

From December 2015, he had provided instructional videos on how to secure sensitive data and remain anonymous online with the use of the Tor programme, and PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption.

Ullah admitted researching ZeroNet and developing a version of a blog site using the decentralised internet-like peer-to-peer network.

He also pleaded guilty to having a book entitled Guided Missiles Fundamentals AFM 52-31 and an electronic PDF version of the book Advances In Missile Guidance, Control, And Estimation for terrorist purposes.

However, he denied a charge of directing terrorism between December 2015 and September last year contrary to section 56 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Prosecutor Brian Altman QC said the Crown had accepted the pleas after referring to the Attorney General.

He asked for the remaining charge to lie on file.

The court heard Ullah had since been diagnosed with autism.

Mr Altman said a hi-tech report dealt with the defendant's desire to copy his blog onto a platform in a "format that meant it could not be closed down or deleted by the authorities".

Judge Gerald Gordon lifted reporting restrictions in the case.

He said the "issue of dangerousness" would have to be looked at before sentencing.

Ullah admitted the charges earlier this month but his pleas could not be reported until after the prosecution had time to consider whether to go ahead with a trial on the remaining charge.

He did not attend court to hear of the Attorney General's decision.

His barrister Ben Emmerson QC said Ullah had admitted membership of IS on the basis that was what he had professed.

Sentencing was adjourned to April 28 at the Old Bailey.

Ullah was arrested in Cardiff on September 22 last year by officers from the Met's Counter Terrorism Command (SO15), supported by the Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit (WECTU).

The move followed the arrest of a man in Kenya who had been in regular contact with Ullah and discussed developing special skills to help the IS campaign of terror, Scotland Yard said.

During the course of their investigation into Ullah's activities, officers found he was an active member of IS and had helped other like-minded extremists by teaching them how to keep their activities secret.

He developed a website on computer hacking and kept numerous documents and videos on electronic devices and at home, including the USB cuff link storing IS publications.

Commander Dean Haydon said: "Just because Ullah's activity was in the virtual world, we never underestimated how dangerous his activity was.

"He sat in his bedroom in Wales and created online content with the sole intention of aiding people who wanted to actively support ISIS and avoid getting caught by the authorities.

"This is just the sort of information that may have helped people involved in planning devastating, low technical level attacks on crowded places as we have seen in other cities across the world.

Detective Superintendent Lee Porter, head of WECTU, said: "Ullah's activities came as a shock for those who knew him, including his family and the local community. His actions and desires do not represent the people of Cardiff or Wales who have repeatedly voiced and demonstrated their resilience to extremist views."