Britain's cufflink 'cyber-terrorist' jailed for eight years

Samata Ullah was jailed for eight years at the Old Bailey in London on May 2, 2017, after admitting to five terror offences, including membership of ISIS.
Samata Ullah was jailed for eight years at the Old Bailey in London on May 2, 2017, after admitting to five terror offences, including membership of ISIS. PHOTO: AFP
The USB drive cufflinks belonging to Samata Ullah.
The USB drive cufflinks belonging to Samata Ullah.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - An ISIS militant who hid extremist material on a computer memory stick disguised as cufflinks and created an online "library for terrorists" was jailed for eight years in Britain on Tuesday (May 2).

Operating from his bedroom in Cardiff, 34-year-old IT expert Samata Ullah offered a range of guidance on how to stay one step ahead of the police and security services.

He was jailed at London's Old Bailey court after admitting five terror offences, including membership of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, training and preparation of terrorist acts.

"It is the first time we have seen anything on this scale," said Commander Dean Haydon, head of the British police's counter-terrorism command unit.

"He had set up a self-help library for terrorists around the world and they were using his library.

"There was guidance on encryption, ways to avoid detection from police and security services, expert tuition around missile systems and a vast amount of propaganda.

"He has created a one-stop shop for terrorists. In my view he was a very dangerous individual although he was operating from his bedroom."

Mr Haydon said the sort of information he had may have helped people involved in planning devastating, low-tech attacks on crowded places.

Ullah had a cache of extremist data on his USB stick cufflinks, including 15 copies of the ISIS propaganda magazine Dabiq.

British counter-terrorism police tracked him down after being passed intelligence by the FBI in the United States. They had been handed the information from authorities in Kenya, who had arrested another man.

Prosecutor Brian Altman told the court that Ullah represented "a new and dangerous breed of terrorist: a cyber terrorist".

"He deployed his not inconsiderable self-taught computer skills to further the cause of terrorism and in particular Islamic State... from the relative safety of his bedroom."

In videos, Ullah's voice was modified to avoid detection and he wore woolly gloves to disguise his skin tone, Mr Altman said.

Police seized 150 digital devices and trawled through eight terabytes of data, which equates to 250 smart phones.

He had bought 30 sets of USB cufflinks which he loaded up with information on missile production, rocket design and ISIS propaganda.

On being charged, Ullah said: "I'm really sorry. I wish I could turn the clock back. Things just spiralled out of control. I don't know how."