A woman who carried a placard showing Hamas paragliders at a pro-Palestine march said she thought that it was a ‘symbol of liberation and peace’, a court heard today.
Noimutu Olayinka Taiwo, 27, along with Heba Alhayek, 29, and Pauline Ankunda, 26, were charged under the Terrorism Act following the protest in central London on October 14.
The incident happened a week after Hamas terrorists used paragliders to cross the border between Gaza and Israel, killing and torturing 1,400 Israeli men, women and children in a horrifying massacre.
They are charged with ‘carrying or displaying an article, namely an image displaying a paraglider, to arouse reasonable suspicion that they are supporters of a proscribed organisation, namely Hamas’.
Prosecutor Brett Weaver told Westminster Magistrates’ Court that a week after the Hamas terror attack in Israel ‘there was a large demonstration in central London in support of the Palestinian people in Gaza.’ The march took place between Oxford Circus and Whitehall.
Noimutu Olayinka Taiwo, 27, arrives at Southwark Crown Court today for a trial where she will be accused of indicating support for banned organisation Hamas
Heba Alhayek, 29, has been charged with the same offence under the Terrorism Act
Pauline Ankunda, 26, outside Southwark Crown Court. Like her co-defendants she denies the charges against her
‘These three defendants were part of that demonstration. Each had on or about their person an image of a paraglider,’ he told the court.
‘Since the use of paragliders by Hamas was widely publicised, the prosecution’s case is that these defendants displaying images of paragliders in those circumstances would arouse reasonable suspicion that they were a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation.’
Ankunda and Alhayek had the images sellotaped to their backs, while Taiwo was carrying a placard with a picture of a paraglider.
Ankunda was caught on video chanting ‘France is a terror state, the UK is a terror state, Italy is a terror state.’
The three women were arrested after police launched an appeal to identify them through the media.
Ankunda and Alhayek attended Croydon Police Station and initially claimed that someone else had stuck the images to their backs but later made a statement accepting that was not the case.
‘The defendants accepted that it was they who fixed the images to their back as opposed to being applied by someone else,’ said Mr Weaver.
‘They stated that they did not see the images as being supportive of Hamas.’
Taiwo was arrested on November 8 after police officers forced their way into her house. When they entered they found Alhayek, Ankunda and a fourth woman in her living room.
The women were charged with terror offences after this image circulated on social media
The offence the women are accused of is contrary to section 13(1) of the Terrorism Act 2000
Taiwo was arrested and taken to Hammersmith Police Station.
‘She denied being a member of Hamas or any proscribed organisation,’ said the prosecutor.
‘She accepted that she was present at the demonstration on 14 October and was handed the placard while she was there.
‘She had not paid attention to what was fixed to the placard as it was a blurry image. She said she believed it to be a symbol of liberation and peace.’
Taiwo, of south Norwood, Alyayek and Anjunda, both of Aukland Road, Upper Norwood, all deny wearing or carrying an article supporting a proscribed terrorist organisation
The trial continues.