Burton factory worker Munir Mohammed used an extremist video to learn how to build a bomb – and that film was still available online only last week, despite his plot being foiled 13 months ago, it is claimed.
Mohammed faces a lengthy jail sentence after being convicted last week of plotting an attack which police believe was most likely to target Derby - and was just days from being enacted. He is due to be sentenced next month.
At the time he was employed as a food packer at Kerry Foods, in Mosley Street, Burton, between May and November 2016. His home was raided by police in December 2016. Unknown to Kerry Foods, Mohammed had been working illegally after faking his identity documents.
Mohammed, of Leopold Street, Derby, had downloaded an Islamic State bomb-making video from the internet and had two of the three components needed for a "Mother of Satan" bomb at his flat, the court was told.
According to an organisation formed to combat the growing threat of extremist ideologies, it believes the same video was available on Google Drive as recently as last Thursday, January 11. It believes it is still available on Google Drive now but is protected by a password.
The video, also believed to have been viewed by the Manchester Arena bomber, is a step-by-step guide on how to make a high-explosive from common household chemicals and is narrated by a masked man in a domestic kitchen.
Researchers say they have found the video nine times on Google-owned platforms in the past 14 months.
An investigation by the Burton Mail’s sister paper the Derby Telegraph also found:
Mohammed’s Facebook profile, which was awash with extremist and disturbing content, was only taken down by Facebook last week, despite him being charged with the bomb plot in December 2016. It was only finally removed after the Derby Telegraph revealed its contents following his conviction.
It took the paper minutes to find another Facebook page which had Osama Bin Laden as its profile picture and had the wording of a banned Islamic Jihad terrorist organisation. After being alerted to this profile by the Derby Telegraph, Facebook removed it.
Another profile contained messages calling for Jews "to be destroyed". This post has now been taken down. Facebook has thanked the Derby Telegraph for bringing the content to its attention. Both profiles listed their location as being in Syria.
David Ibsen, executive director of the Counter Extremism Project, which helps to draw up legislation to combat online extremism, said: "The availability of [the bomb making] video is deeply concerning to the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) and the general public.
"We believe that this ISIS bombing making video is the one Munir Mohammed downloaded in November 2016 when planning an attack.
"Over the past 14 months, our researchers have found the video nine separate times on Google-owned platforms, with a live version available on Google Drive as recently as last Thursday. Online propaganda often serves as a gateway to further radicalisation offline. What we need is greater transparency and consistent enforcement. We need companies like Facebook to take responsibility for the content available on its platform."
Facebook said it removed Mohammed’s Facebook profile because it "violated our community standards". It said it removes 99 per cent of Islamic State and Al-Qaeda-related terror content before anybody in the community has flagged it up.
Mr Ibsen felt Facebook was slow to act on Mohammed’s profile. He said: "Recent efforts by leading digital companies to pay greater attention to the misuse of their services by terrorists and extremists are encouraging but not enough. We are disappointed that research has shown that Facebook was slow to suspend Munir Mohammed’s page."
Terrorism expert Dr Phil Henry, senior lecturer in sociology and criminology at the University of Derby, said content that web giants were deleting would have already been saved and distributed again.
He said: "There is significant pressure on social media and internet providers to do more proactive work to take this material down and seek it out. I still think they are playing catch-up. That’s the stark reality.
"It’s really frustrating to hear that video is available on Google Drive. The speed that these things can be viewed means it can be viewed and downloaded by others before the original is taken down. Then it can be put back up again.
"That’s the big challenge internet providers have. It’s scary. They can take the video offline, rename it, and put it back online."
Facebook said it had "significantly grown" its team of counter terrorism specialists.
It said: "We can confirm that we removed the Facebook account of Munir Mohammed because it violated our Community Standards.
"At Facebook, more than 150 people are exclusively or primarily focused on countering terrorism as their core responsibility.
"We are growing our community operations team by 3,000 people this year. This team works 24 hours a day and in dozens of languages to review reports to ensure that extremist content is swiftly removed. We reach out to law enforcement whenever we see a credible threat and have law enforcement response teams available around the clock to respond to emergency requests."
A spokesman for Google said: "Google Drive has clear policies that prohibit content such as gratuitous violence, hate speech and incitement to commit violent acts, and we remove videos violating these policies when flagged by our users."
A spokesman for YouTube said: "We do not allow bomb-making videos on YouTube, and if there’s flagged content giving instruction on how to carry out harmful activities on the platform, we act quickly to remove it. We recently tightened our policies on what content can appear on our platform and are taking a tougher stance on borderline content.
"Tackling online extremism is a critical challenge for us all and we’re determined – in partnership with Government, civil society and the tech industry – to be part of the solution."