Graduate 'viper' jailed for urging killing of MPs

An IT graduate who posted messages on an Islamic extremist website urging Muslims to attack British MPs who voted for the Iraq War was described as "a viper in our midst" by a judge who jailed him for 12 years yesterday.

The judge said Bilal Zaheer Ahmad's views were "corrosively dangerous" and told him: "You purport to be a British citizen but what you stand for is totally alien to what we stand for in our country." Ahmad posted the threat on a US-based website on 3 November last year, a day after a Muslim woman had been jailed for trying to murder a senior Labour MP, Bristol Crown Court heard.

He was sentenced to an additional five years' extended period on licence and the judge told him: "Whatever our views on the Iraq War, we are a democracy."

The judge said that politicians are "often faced with difficult decisions" and have to face up to "serious criticism on occasions as part of the democratic process".

He added: "The same can be said for bankers, press barons and judges. It is important that MPs can hold constituency surgeries without the threat of someone trying to kill them.

"You were intent on striking at the heart of our democracy and if our politicians are to be at risk from those like you, then the message must go out loud and clear that this country will not tolerate such threats to its democratic processes."

Bristol Crown Court heard that Ahmad listed the pro-war politicians on the website and urged other would-be fanatics to "raise the knife of jihad" against them.

In his message posted last year, Ahmad offered advice on finding out details of politicians' constituency surgeries to help anyone who wanted to target them, the court was told.

He also posted a link to the website which listed cheap knives for sale and urged followers to use them to carry out attacks.