Pro-Palestine protester who had image of Hamas paraglider stuck to her back at demo a week after October 7 attack chanted ‘Britain is a terror state’, court told

  • Pauline Ankunda (26) was charged with two others in terms of the Terrorism Act

A pro-Palestinian protester who had an image of a Hamas paraglider attached to her back during a demonstration a week after the October 7 attack chanted: ‘Britain is a terror state’ has been arrested court said.

Pauline Ankunda (26) was caught on video during the protest chanting: ‘France is a terrorist state, the UK is a terrorist state, Italy is a terrorist state.’

Ankunda and her co-accused Heba Alhayek (29) claimed during interview that someone at the demonstration in London ‘unbeknownst to them’ the images were pasted on their backs.

But they later changed their statements and admitted they had attached them themselves, Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told.

They displayed the images on October 14, prosecutors claim, just seven days after Hamas militants used paragliders to enter Israel from Gaza on October 7 before killing more than 1,000 Israelis. Hamas is banned as a terrorist organization in the UK.

Pauline Ankunda, 26, outside Westminster Magistrates' Court.  Like her co-accused, she denies the charges against her

Pauline Ankunda, 26, outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court. Like her co-accused, she denies the charges against her

Heba Alhayek (29) was charged with the same offense under the Terrorism Act

Heba Alhayek (29) was charged with the same offense under the Terrorism Act

Noimutu Olayinka Taiwo (27) arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court today for a hearing where she will be accused of expressing support for the banned organization Hamas.

Noimutu Olayinka Taiwo (27) arrives at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today for a hearing where she will be accused of expressing support for the banned organization Hamas.

The co-accused, Noimutu Olayinka Taiwo, 27, allegedly pasted an image of a Hamas paraglider to the handle of a poster.

The trio’s display of the images was widely condemned when footage of the protest was published on social media, their trial heard.

They are all charged under the Terrorism Act with carrying or displaying an article giving rise to reasonable suspicion that they are supporters of the outlawed organization Hamas. They deny the charges.

Prosecutor Brett Weaver told the court: ‘The display of these images could be seen as a celebration of the use of the paragliding tactic.

‘They exhibited them for a considerable period of time. Each of them would be able to see what the other was doing.’

After the Metropolitan Police launched an appeal on social media to trace them, Alhayek and Ankunda handed themselves in at Croydon Police Station, the court heard.

“The defendants accepted that they had affixed the images to their backs, as opposed to having them affixed by someone else,” Mr Weaver said.

“They said they did not consider the images to be supportive of Hamas.”

Ankunda and Alhayek had the images sold on their backs

Ankunda and Alhayek had the images sold on their backs

The offense of which the women are accused is contrary to section 13(1) of the Terrorism Act 2000

The offense of which the women are accused is contrary to section 13(1) of the Terrorism Act 2000

When Taiwo was arrested and questioned under caution, Taiwo claimed that the poster had been handed to him and had not paid proper attention to the ‘vague image’ it displayed, the court heard.

“She denied being a member of Hamas or any banned organization,” the prosecutor said.

‘She accepted that she was at the protest on 14 October and was handed the poster while she was there.

‘She didn’t pay attention to what was attached to the poster as it was a blurry image. She said she believed it was a symbol of liberation and peace.’

Alyayek and Anjunda, of Upper Norwood, and Taiwo, of South Norwood, all deny carrying or wearing an article that supports a banned terrorist organization

The trial continues.