Zameer Ghumra instructed two children to not have non-Muslim friends while trying to recruit them to join the terrorist group. He was convicted after showed the youngsters a beheading video, The Evening Standard, a London daily, reported.
The 38-year-old was convicted on Thursday of disseminating “terrorist propaganda”. Ghumra has denied the charge, but was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday. He had been working as a pharmacist in the town of Oundle in Northamptonshire before his arrest.
During the trial, which lasted eight days, the court heard how Ghumra taught the children how to “survive a bomb attack” as well as training with knives as deadly weapons – rewarding them with sweets.
Ghumra, who comes from Leicester, followed various ISIS-linked social media accounts and made the two children follow similar accounts.
The jury heard how the youngsters were told that when they arrived in Syria, they would have to behead people.
Online conversations that Ghumra had had with Anjem Choudary were detailed during the trial. Choudary, the jailed radical preacher, had been described as “a good man” to the children.
The prosecutor, Simon Davis, said Ghumra had told a customer at the pharmacy that ISIS were “not bad people – they’re only defending themselves”.
The boys’ mother told the court she had grown increasingly worried about Ghumra’s influence on the children, who she said were “waking up in the night because they think someone is killing them”, according to the Guardian.
“My kids have been forced to watch ISIS training videos. He told them: ‘We will have to do this one day.’ He told them all kafirs [non-believers] go to hell, even if they’re good people,” she said.
One of the boys had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and another was finding it difficult to sleep because he was “afraid of snipers”.
According to the prosecution, Ghumra claimed the children had been put up to “making a false allegation”, but Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden, the head of counter-terrorism policing in the North East, said Ghumra’s offending was “significant”.
“Zameer Ghumra willingly abused a position of trust, showing young children a violent and explicit beheading video with no regard for the profound effect the disturbing material may have on them. That act alone is unforgivable,” Snowden said.
“He also used social media accounts to follow terrorist content online and to advertise his teaching services. His teaching role increases his risk, potentially giving him direct access to young or vulnerable people who may look up to him as an authority figure.
“Terrorist publications and propaganda seek to encourage support for terrorism and the implications of sharing or disseminating them are extremely serious.”
Judge Gregory Dickinson QC noted that it had been a “determined effort” to radicalise children and turn them into terrorists. The judge also said that there had been an “absence of remorse” from Ghumra.