A man once described as the “terrorists’ favourite bookseller” has had his conviction for selling books about Jihad quashed.
Material produced and distributed by Ahmed Faraz ended up in the hands of almost every major terrorist in Britain.
Among his customers were Mohammed Sidique Khan, the leader of the July 7 bomb plot, and members of the trans-Atlantic airline gang, who cited his texts in their suicide videos.
Court of Appeal judges found the prosecution in his original trial had been wrongly allowed to rely on the fact that the books had been found in the homes of high profile terrorists, without there being any suggestion that the offenders had actually been encouraged by the books to commit their terrorist acts.
Faraz was convicted of 11 counts of possessing and disseminating terrorist publications at Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court in 2011.
He was sentenced to three years in jail for running an operation to publish extremist texts and violent DVDs and distribute them around the world with the aim of “priming” terrorists for action.
Police carried out a number of raids on the Maktabah Islamic bookshop in Birmingham, out of which he was operating.
The shop was originally founded by Moazzam Begg, who was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 after fleeing from Afghanistan during the fall of the Taliban and held in Guantanamo Bay.
Faraz, 33, grew up in Birmingham with Pakistani parents.
He has worked in administrative positions for the car manufacturer Rover, the stock broker Charles Schwab and British Gas but became involved with the bookshop at the age of 23, editing texts and producing DVDs.
At Maktabah, he wrote a foreword to a book called Milestones by Sayyid Qutb, one of the main influences on al-Qaeda, circulated books by Abdullah Azzam, who mentored Osama bin Laden, and produced and distributed a DVD called “21st Century Crusaders.”
After he was arrested in 2007 and then released without charge, Faraz claimed that Britain was on its way to becoming a police state for Muslims.
Defending his book-selling trade, he told the Cage Prisoners organisation in September: “We are a people of principles, and that’s what we at Maktabah have always been.
“And we are neither an extremist bookshop, nor do we keep lop-sided material.
“What we wanted to do was present Islam as a whole. We didn’t have 10 bookshelves on Jihad, we had many shelves on different matters from jurisprudence to spirituality.”
His appeal against his convictions was upheld last month.