Tyne & Wear

Sunderland shopkeeper denies supporting Islamic State

Newcastle Crown Court
Image caption Mohammed Zahir Khan said he may have "inadvertently" looked like he supported Islamic State

A man accused of tweeting in support of the Islamic State (IS) group has denied backing the terror organisation.

In March, Mohammed Zahir Khan, of Nora Street, Sunderland, admitted encouraging terrorism, dissemination of a terror publication and stirring up religious hatred.

The 40-year-old shopkeeper admitted the offences on the basis he was reckless.

Prosecutors did not accept his claim and a hearing of the facts is being held at Newcastle Crown Court.

Mr Khan, originally from Birmingham, shared messages on social media saying "death to Shias" and calling for them to be burnt alive.

In March last year he posted on Facebook a statement about martyrs and the flag associated with IS.

He also reposted a tweet which included an IS call to attack US bases in Bahrain.

Following his arrest at his convenience store, police found pro-IS videos on his computer.

'Inadvertent' support

Jonathan Sandiford, prosecuting, said: "The prosecution say that the defendant intended to encourage the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

"He maintains for his part he was merely reckless."

Asked by his barrister, Robert Dacre, if he was an IS supporter, Mr Khan said: "I never believed it, I never supported them.

"I may have come across inadvertently supporting them.

"I am not pro-IS, I know given half the chance they would kill some non-Muslims.

"I know in their eyes I should know better, as a Muslim, than selling alcohol."

The hearing continues.

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