Mother-of-five who encouraged terrorism on Facebook is spared jail so she can 'get back to her children'
A mother-of-five who encouraged terror attacks on Facebook has been spared jail after a judge told her, "the sooner you get back to your children the better".
Farhana Ahmed, 40, from north-west London, had been in custody since being charged over the 2015 social media posts while her home-schooled children, aged between six and 16, were cared for by relatives.
Judge Christopher Moss QC sentenced her to a suspended term of two years after she pleaded guilty to encouraging terrorism and three counts of disseminating documents.
The judge was "moved" by a letter from her eldest son and told Ahmed: "In your exceptional case, the sooner you are returned to your children, the better for all concerned."
The court had heard how Ahmed had been a "prolific" contributor to a Facebook group, which described itself as a "pro-IS group, the purpose of it is to connect mawhideen brothers from different parts of the world and to help each other".
She praised the Paris terror attacks and her posts included a speech by an IS spokesman and a link to an "extensive online library" of terrorist publications, the court heard.
Ahmed used a fake name to encourage terrorism on the social media site between September and November 2015.
Prosecutor Ben Lloyd said: "It is clear from the defendant's decision to join this group, and then by virtue of the material that she posted, that she shared the group's ideology and aims."
Ahmed's posts had attracted a large number of followers.
The British national travelled to Turkey with her husband Muhammed Burmal Karwani and their five children in November 2013.
She and the children returned to Britain while her husband stayed behind and, when she tried to go to Turkey in August 2015, she was turned away by authorities, the Old Bailey heard.
Mr Lloyd said: "It may be that following this, the defendant decided to begin her campaign on Facebook encouraging terrorism."
The court heard Ahmed's behaviour was borne from a difficult period of her life, and she had now rejected extremism.
The court heard she had been effectively a lone parent living in temporary accommodation and had "suffered at the hands of strangers".
In mitigation, Hossain Zahir said his client was a "good mother" and was full of remorse.
Judge Moss said her period in custody had already had an "extremely adverse effect on the children".
He told Ahmed: "You have devoted your life, apart from this abhorrent behaviour, to the care of your children.
"There is no realistic danger of you returning to the mindset evidence of your conduct of two years ago.
"You want nothing more than to return to your family and your family want nothing more that to return to them. They have suffered greatly by your period in custody. Your case is in an entirely exceptional category."
As she left the dock, Ahmed, who wore a headscarf, acknowledged the judge and quietly said "thank you".
The prosecution offered no evidence on two terrorism-funding charges which related to thousands of pounds sent to Ahmed's husband, who has since been acquitted of terrorism offences in Turkey and returned to the UK.
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