Harvey Nichols make-up artist says pro-ISIS messages were ‘just an act’

Harvey Nichols in Leeds
Harvey Nichols in Leeds

A Sheffield make-up artist accused of spreading terrorist propaganda and execution videos has said her pro-Islamic State views were ‘just an act’.

Zafreen Khadam, aged 32, of Vincent Road, Sharrow, told a jury at Sheffield Crown Court that she did not support terrorism or the views of ISIS.

Khadam denies 10 counts of dissemination of terrorist publications between February and March 2015.

She is alleged to have used online messaging services Twitter and WhatsApp to share graphic videos of killings such as a Jordanian pilot being burnt to death, as well as propaganda messages from IS leaders.

Khadam, who said she had worked at House of Fraser in Meadowhall and at Harvey Nichols in Leeds, said she had been going through a difficult personal time in late 2014.

She said she was a keen football supporter who had worked with Sheffield’s ‘Football Unites, Racism Divides’ organisation.

In January 2015, she said she saw an online article about a London footballer joining ISIS.

Khadam, a former Sheffield Hallam University student who was born in Sheffield, said: “I read about him. I didn’t know what ISIS was.

“That is when I started looking into it. I was all about football - that attracted me to look into it.”

When asked why that led her to share IS-related material online, she said: “I wanted to know more about these people. I thought if I could be like them, I could get what I wanted.

“It was something to grip. Why would people like footballers want to go across, for what reasons? I kind of put myself in their little world.”

Dermot Hughes, defending, asked why she had sent apparently supportive messages about ISIS.

She said she had been trying to find out why young girls from England were travelling to Syria to join the group, which she disagreed with.

Khadam said: “That was the whole idea - be pro-ISIS.

“I went pro-ISIS to see what they do with women and why such young girls go across there.”

Mr Hughes asked if she meant she wanted to understand them.

She said: “It was always about understanding them, I would never support them from the heart. It was an act.”

She said she was ‘absolutely not’ supportive of terrorism.

Khadam said she had no intention of travelling to Syria.

The trial continues.