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Cablegate: German Court Finds Iraqi "Cyber Jihadist" Guilty

VZCZCXRO1915
RR RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHLZ
RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHAG #0016/01 1761307
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241307Z JUN 08
FM AMCONSUL HAMBURG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0233
INFO RUEHAG/AMCONSUL HAMBURG 0254
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0212
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0004
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HAMBURG 000016

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/AGS, EUR/PPD, L/LEI, AND S/CT
JUSTICE FOR BARBARA BERMAN AND PATRICIA REEDY

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER KJUS PREL ASEC KVPR GM
SUBJECT: GERMAN COURT FINDS IRAQI "CYBER JIHADIST" GUILTY

REF: A. A. 07 HAMBURG 61
B. B. 07 HAMBURG 53
C. C. 07 BERLIN 1398
D. D. 06 BERLIN 3323

HAMBURG 00000016 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On June 19, the Higher Regional Court (OLG)
in Celle convicted Iraqi Ibrahim Rashid in 22 cases of promoting
membership in and support for the foreign terrorist
organizations Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda in Iraq and sentenced him to
a three year prison term. The conviction was based on Rashid's
distribution of statements by Osama Bin Laden, Ayman
Al-Zawahiri, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, and Al-Muhadjer over the
internet by playing real-time video and audio files, posting
links to internet sites where these files were available, and
pasting the texts of Al-Qaeda speeches in chat windows. This
decision sets precedent by determining that the promotion of
activities in support of Al Qaeda on the internet is punishable
by law. The defense announced that it will appeal the verdict
before the Federal Supreme Court (BGH). Rashid will remain
incarcerated. Hamburg Consulate's Pol/Econ staff attended the
hearing. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- --------------
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Virtual Jihadist War Fighting Not Covered by Free Speech
--------------------------------------------- --------------
-------------

2. (U) In his decision, Celle judge Wolfgang Siolek stated that
there is "complete and overwhelming" evidence that Rashid used
several nicknames in an open chat room called "Al Ansar
Mujahedin," in order to promote membership and support for Al
Qaeda and Al Qaeda in Iraq between October 6, 2005 and October
1, 2006. Rashid was found guilty of approving extremist
messages, calling for participation in jihad, idealizing
martyrdom, reporting on "successful Mujahedin attacks," and
providing behavioral guidelines for would-be terrorists. He was
also convicted of exercising chat room administrator rights, and
playing, posting, linking, and disseminating these messages over
the internet. The judge underscored that by spreading Al
Qaeda's war propaganda, Rashid helped to call and prepare for
terrorist attacks and radicalize and recruit more members. By
stressing that reports on "successful" jihadist operations lead
to increased donations for the terrorist cause, the judge
emphasized the concrete effects of Rashid's internet activities.
The judge argued that Rashid could not appeal to the right to
freedom of speech and freedom of information as these rights
were admissibly limited by the Criminal Code which he violated.
He reiterated that Rashid knew that he was not merely exercising
his constitutional right of free speech because he cautioned
others in the chats from being caught by the police.

3. (U) The judge also stated that in phone conversations with
his family, Rashid announced that he wanted to pursue the path
of suicide attacks. Referring to Rashid's closing remarks the
judge said that Rashid unmasked himself as an irredeemable
Islamist. He pointed out that Rashid fought against the very
same state which provided him freedom and guaranteed his
livelihood, and added that through his actions Rashid placed
himself outside the civilized community. The judge remarked
that he regards Rashid as a dangerous Islamist extremist and
multiplier in the service of Al Qaeda, who, if released, would
continue to commit terrorist activities. This assessment
prompted him to state: "It can only be hoped that the foreigner
office deports him immediately upon having served his time in
prison."

4. (SBU) COMMENT: In previous terrorist trials in Germany,
culprits have been convicted for being members of terrorist
organizations and/or for providing assistance to or committing
concrete terrorist acts. This verdict is a landmark decision in
that it established for the first time that terrorist-related
activities over the internet are punishable by law if there is
evidence that the accused affirms and supports terrorism.
Unless the defense can successfully claim before the BGH that
the ruling contains judicial errors, the decision will stand and
Rashid will most likely be deported to Iraq. Both the chief
judge and prosecutor expressed hope that Rashid's sentencing
will have a deterrent effect on potential imitators. The judge
also said that the trial disclosed difficulties in the criminal
investigation as law-enforcement agencies were unable to
reconstruct six internet protocols (Note: Thus, only 22 of the
original 28 charges were pursued. End Note.). END COMMENT.

5. (U) This message has been coordinated with Embassy Berlin.


HAMBURG 00000016 002.2 OF 002


Johnson

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