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Former UWA academic Abdussalam Adina-Zada jailed for advocating terrorism in YouTube videos

Abdussalam Adina-Zada has been arrested in relation to a terrorist attack

A self-styled future political leader of Tajikistan has been jailed for three-and-a-half years for advocating terrorism via YouTube videos in which he extolled the virtues of violence and martyrdom.

Key points:

  • Abdussalam Adina-Zada called for the Tajiki government to be overthrown
  • His YouTube videos were watched more than 1.6 million times
  • With time already served he could be released from jail in August next year

Former University of Western Australia researcher Abdussalam Adina-Zada, who has been in prison since his arrest in December 2020, could be released on parole as early as August next year.

District Court Judge Troy Sweeney said the 54-year-old’s conduct was a threat to Australia’s desire for “tolerance, multiculturalism and freedom of speech”.

She said Adina-Zada was entitled to express a view but he used extremist language which had the potential to inspire people to commit acts of violence or be radicalised.

“Planting ideas like that is utterly irresponsible and dangerous,” she said.

Adina-Zada could be released from prison in August next year.(ABC News)

The court heard Adina-Zada published multiple videos on his YouTube channel between January 2019 and his arrest, which encouraged Muslims to overthrow the Tajiki government and establish a caliphate.

He often spoke of how he had been inspired by groups like the Taliban in Afghanistan and ISIS in Syria.

These videos were watched more than 1.6 million times, with 78 per cent of viewers based in Russia and almost 12 per cent in Tajikistan.

They were viewed about 10,000 times in Australia.

‘We must not be afraid of death’

Many of the videos encouraged viewers to acquire weapons, power and influence to create an army.

This army would mount a violent insurrection over the government and rid it of the influence of foreign “infidels” like China and Russia.

In a video entitled “Mujahideen Advance”, uploaded in January 2019, he called on Islamic revolutionaries to take power in Tajiki villages and inspire fear.

“Work should start, jihad should start, mujahedeen should advance,” he said.

In another video a year later, he told viewers they should not be afraid of martyrdom in their “good” struggle.

“We must not be afraid of death,” he said.

In April 2020, a joint counterterrorism team searched his home and car, seizing his mobile phone, laptop and hard drive.

The joint counterterrorism team became aware of Adina-Zada through an online video-sharing account.(ABC News)

This team involved the Australian Federal Police, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and WA Police.

During an interview, he told the team that “bloodshed is coming and he is inviting it” and also agreed to deactivate his YouTube channel.

Six weeks later, he reactivated it and continued to post videos – including one in which he told followers he had learned to be careful about his language to avoid being banned by online platforms — until his arrest.

The court heard Adina-Zada was an intelligent and educated man who seriously considered himself as a future potential political leader of Tajikistan.

A Sunni Muslim, he was born in the Central Asian country, when it was a republic of the former USSR, and moved to Australia in 2006, later becoming a citizen.

Adina-Zada seriously considered himself as a future potential political leader of Tajikistan, the court heard.(ABC News)

At one stage, Adina-Zada faced 18 terrorism-related charges but earlier this month plead guilty to one charge of advocating terrorism, which encompassed all the 15 videos in which he advocated politically-motivated violence.

His sentence for this charge was backdated to his arrest and he will serve a non-parole period of two years and eight months.

The court heard Adina-Zada had suffered discrimination and threats in prison, including being targeted by white supremacists.

Source : ABC News