Three men have been jailed for their use of the internet to incite terrorism. The three were convicted after entering a late change of plea to 'guilty' earlier this week.
Younes Tsouli, Waseem Mughal and Tariq Al-Daour were convicted at Woolwich Crown Court and have been sentenced to a combined 24 years in prison in a trial which began in April. The three men initially pleaded 'not guilty' but changed that plea two months into their court case.
It is illegal to operate websites inciting terrorism under the Terrorism Act. That law extends to websites hosted abroad.
The three men pleaded guilty to inciting another person to commit an act of terrorism wholly or partly outside the UK which would, if committed in England and Wales, constitute murder.
Tsouli hosted a chat site dedicated to holy war to which a message was posted which purported to be from a group of 45 doctors who wanted to use car bombs and grenades to launch attacks in the US.
Tsouli was jailed for 10 years and the judge Justice Openshaw recommended that he be deported to his native Morocco once he had served his sentence.
The three admitted to defrauding banks and credit card companies, and Al-Daour was also involved in a £1.8 million fraud. From the United Arab Emirates but living in Bayswater, Al-Daour was jailed for six and a half years.
Mughal was British and was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in jail.
The three men used websites to incite other Muslims to wage war on non-believers. The three believed in a global conspiracy to wipe out Islam and had links to al Qaeda in Iraq, the court heard.
They are the first people to be convicted in the UK of incitement to murder over the internet.
EU Justice, Freedom and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said this week that he wants to criminalise other kinds of internet publishing. He said that he wants to make it illegal to post instructions on how to make a bomb on the internet.
"I would propose the incrimination of dissemination of information of bomb making and explosives," he told journalists last week. "I think it's simply not possible to make people free to instruct other people on the internet on how to make a bomb."
"That is nothing to do with the freedom of expression, you can imagine, and my proposal will be to criminalise actions and instructions to make a bomb. It's too frequent, it's too often, unfortunately, we discover websites that contain complete instructions to home made bombs," he said.
The proposal is likely to anger civil rights campaigners who could argue that the plan is a limit to freedom of speech.
Frattini said that such actions would be policed only with the help of the internet industry. "The idea is to contact as many providers as possible to get their cooperation and to start closing websites and of course continuously checking the web," he said.
Frattini said that his plan would be amongst anti-terrorism proposals to be published in autumn.