Last updated at 6:16 PM on 07th July 2009
A fanatic who once paraded his baby in an ‘I love al-Quaeda’ hat was today jailed for firebombing the home of the publisher of a novel about Mohammed.
Ali Beheshti, 41, a follower of hate cleric Abu Hamza, poured diesel through the letterbox of the £2.5million house and set it alight to ‘punish’ owner Martin Rynja.
The attack came weeks before Mr Rynja’s publishing company was due to release The Jewel of Medina, a fictional account of the Prophet’s child bride.
Abrar Mirza, Abbas Taj and Ali Beheshti (l-r) were sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail each
Today a judge told the extremist and his two accomplices as she sentenced them each to four-and-a-half years: ‘If you choose to live in this country, you live by its rules.’
Beheshti first made international headlines three years ago after he was photographed with his 18-month-old daughter, Farisa, who he had dressed in a pink bonnet celebrating al-Quaeda during a protest against Danish cartoons of Mohammed.
He also proudly described her to reporters as the youngest member of the terror network as he waved banners vowing to ‘Massacre those who insult Islam’ and promising ‘Europe, your 9/11 will come!’
Beheshti, who has a previous conviction for the attempted murder of his own father, also set fire to his hands with petrol outside the U.S. embassy during the demonstration.
Last September, with accomplices Abrar Mirza, 23, and Abbas Taj, 30, he attacked the five storey home and office of Mr Rynja in Islington, North London.
The defendents used diesel as an accelerant, causing damage to the front door of the publisher’s house
Enlarge Ali Beheshti had previously used his baby daughter to spread a message of support for Al Qaeda
Taj acted as the getaway driver as Beheshti and Mirza poured petrol diesel into the house and started a small blaze.
The building sustained minor fire damage but nobody was hurt after police and fire crews smashed down the door to put it out.
The arsonists were seized by armed police as they fled the scene in what officers described as an ‘intelligence led operation.’
Today Andrew Hall QC, for Beheshti, said it was ‘an act of protest born of the publication of a book felt by him and other Muslims to be disrespectful, provocative and offensive.’
Beheshti now considers his actions to be ‘misguided, disproportionate and counter-productive,’ the barrister added.
Sentencing, Mrs Justice Rafferty said: ‘If you chose to live in this country, you live by its rules.
‘There is no such thing as ‘a la carte citizenship’ and, in your case, there is no such thing as a la carte obedience to the law.’
He praised Mr Rynja as a ‘principled man’ who had exercised critical judgement on a literary work, and stood up to be counted, knowing that publishing it put him at risk.
‘In an open society there has to be open access to literary works, regardless of fear,’ the judge added.
The novel, by U.S. writer Sherry Jones, traces the life of child bride Aisha from her engagement at the age of six to the prophet’s death.
It includes a description of the night they consummate their marriage which one American academic described as ‘soft core pornography.’
Ali Beheshti poses with a gun in this Metropolitan Police photo
Novel ‘The Jewel of Medina’ motivated the extremists to commit the arson attack
Mr Rynja’s publishing company, Gibson Square Books, bought the rights to the novel after Random House dropped plans to publish it, fearing it could ‘incite acts of violence’.
Miss Jones said her book was respectful to Islam, and Mr Rynja said last October that he felt its publication was part of a liberal democracy.
Before his arrest Beheshti lived with his family in a smart semi detached house in Ilford, east London, where a 2007 Mitsubishi 4×4 sits on the drive. He described himself as a pilot on Farisa¹s birth certificate.
His wife, Hannah, 28, is the daughter of a sales consultant for an engineering firm who grew up in a smart home in a Bristol suburb.
Beheshti and Mirza, a mobile phone salesman of Walthamstow, North East London, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to recklessly damage property and endanger life.
Cab driver Taj of Forest Gate, East London was convicted of the same offence at Croydon Crown Court in May .
They were sentenced at the Royal Courts of Justice for administrative reasons.