In November last year, 35-year-old Ahmad Qadan from Arlöv was sentenced to six months in prison for collecting funds for the purchase of weapons for the terrorist organizations Daesh* and al-Nusra Front* on Facebook. Prior to being ultimately discovered by the Swedish security service Säpo, his crowd-funding campaign went undiscovered for almost two years, the Swedsish daily Expressen reported.
In May 2013, Qadan published a message that said: "Contact me to help equip your brothers at the front!" A second, more detailed message appeared a few months later, urging the public to "help us provide our brothers at the front with weapons to avenge our siblings." Two phone numbers were provided for detailed information on the accounts where the money could be deposited. Both were known for their support for terrorist organizations, and one of the named persons is listed as terrorist financier by the UN and the EU.
The posts at the fake account under the name of Ash-Shaami As-Suwedi weren't discovered by Säpo until March 2015.
"There were no notifications from Facebook, just someone who perused open-source data and responded," prosecutor Hans Ihrman told Expressen.
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The police requested and received from Facebook IP addresses and time stamps for this account, successfully linking it with Ahmad Qadan's official account with the help of telecom operators. Until the account was ultimately closed in June 2015, the messages remained open for access and could be read by anyone.
"Sometimes it happens that we make a mistake. When that happens, we fix it as soon as we become aware of it," Facebook Nordic Communications Manager Peter Münster told Expressen.
The prosecution showed understanding for Facebook failing to address the illegal material on time, commenting that timely notification only happens "in an ideal world."
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Senior terrorist researcher Magnus Ranstorp of the National Defense College has argued that Facebook did a great deal to stop material that supports terrorism.
"They have automatic algorithms to find materials that include, say, Daesh propaganda. But when it comes to a gray zone where it's not clear what it's all about, then it becomes hard for Facebook. After all, there is a huge volume of material," Ranstorp told Expressen.
Ahmad Qadan was later sentenced to a six-month prison sentence for terrorist offenses. According to the court, he called for "violent acts directed against or disproportionately affecting civilians with the aim of creating fear among the population."
Qadan himself denied the crimes, claiming that he took over the Facebook account of a previously unknown person and had no knowledge of the previous posts.
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"His explanations do not go together. They are many, far-fetched and unlikely. Having weighed them, we arrived at the only reasonable conclusion, namely that he knew what was in the account and is lying," Malmö District Court chief advisor Lennart Strinäs said in connection with the verdict.
Qadan subsequently appealed the verdict and is currently at large waiting for a verdict from the Supreme Court.
* Daesh (ISIS, ISIL, IS) and al-Nusra Front are terrorist organizations banned in Russia