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Woman gets 5 years for using Facebook to fan ‘extremism’

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(CNN) — A British court sentenced a 35-year-old woman Thursday to more than five years in prison for using Facebook to promote terrorism — including urging other women to send their husbands off “to fight for the sake of Allah” and saying she looked forward to the day her young son could join them.

Runa Khan was arrested in her hometown of Luton, about 30 miles north of London, last December, and she pleaded guilty to four counts of distributing terrorist publications more than seven months later. Her sentencing occurred Thursday in Kingston Crown Court, the Metropolitan Police Service said.

The four counts relate to four different specific Facebook posts posted by Khan, under the name Khawla Khattab, according to police.

One, from late July 2013, shows a suicide vest with the words “sacrificing your life to benefit Islam.” Another gives details to another person online about how to go from Turkey to Syria — a common route for would-be jihadists looking to join groups like ISIS, the Islamist extremist group that has used brutal tactics against nonbelievers while taking vast swaths of Syria and Iraq.

In a message posted September 18, 2013, Khan speaks directly to her fellow women. “Dear sisters,” she writes, “if you love your sons, your husbands and your brothers, prove it by sending them to fight for the sake of Allah.

“Don’t you want them to enter jannah” — an Islamic concept of eternal paradise — “without reckoning?” Khan adds. “Don’t you want them to prepare for you a palace in jannah?”

On that same day, Khan reposted an article headlined “Sisters’ role in jihad off the battlefield” that suggests that mothers introduce very young children to target shooting as a way of training them for jihad.

“There are two main reasons why sisters themselves also need to get military training,” the article adds. “Firstly, so they can participate in jihad themselves. And secondly, so they can train their sons and daughters for it.”

Detectives also uncovered other Facebook postings, like one complaining about Muslims who condemned the 2013 murder of British soldier Lee Rigby near a barracks in southeast London. Cellphone footage from right after the attack shows one of the now-convicted murderers, Michael Adebolajo, ranting that the killing was “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” for British soldiers’ killing of Muslims overseas.

And in late September 2013, Khan posted a comment on Facebook that said, “Zipping up my 8 year old boys jacket as he wants to play outside for a bit. I pictured the future while I was zipping up his jacket, inshallah” — which translates to “if God is willing” — “I’ll be tying the shahada bandana round his forehead and hand him his rifle and send him out to play the big boys game. Allahu Akbar.”

Cmdr. Richard Walton, the head of the Metropolitan Police’s counterterrorism command, said in a statement that Khan used social media to “spread extremism, radicalise others and justify children being used for terrorism.” Her case is one of many related to terrorism that British authorities have pursued in recent years.

“We aim to make the internet a more hostile environment for terrorists,” Walton added. “Today’s sentence supports that aim.”