The self-dubbed “Lyrical terrorist”, the first woman to be convicted under section 58 of the Terrorism Act in November 2007 after writing poems celebrating the beheading of non-Muslims, has had the conviction quashed by the court of appeal.
Samina Malik was found guilty of “collecting personal information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism” – she possessed various documents including the al-Qaida Manual, the Terrorist’s Handbook, the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook and several military manuals – but it seemed at the time that the jury was more concerned about her poetry.
One of her poems, called How to Behead, said: “It’s not messy or as hard as some may think, It’s all about the flow of the wrist… You’ll feel the knife hit the wind and food pipe, But Don’t Stop, Continue with all your might.”
Malik called herself the Lyrical Terrorist because she thought it sounded “cool”. There was no suggestion that she actually was a terrorist. But the Daily Mail at the time made loads of fuss about the fact that she worked in an airside newsagents at Heathrow Airport… like maybe she was going to hijack a plane or something.
The Terrorism Act made the possession of “terrorist handbooks” and military manuals illegal. But the court of appeal has since ruled that possession of such material is a crime only if it can be linked to an actual terrorist attack. Which is just as well – a government that bans books deserves no respect.