Woman accused of terror offence after carrying placard of Hamas paragliders at pro-Palestine rally ‘thought it was a symbol of liberation and peace’, court hears

A woman who carried a poster carrying Hamas paragliders at a pro-Palestine march said she thought it was a ‘symbol of liberation and peace’, a court heard today.

Noimutu Olayinka Taiwo (27) was charged with Heba Alhayek (29) and Pauline Ankunda (26) under the Terrorism Act after the demonstration in central London on 14 October.

The incident happened a week after Hamas terrorists used paragliders to cross the border between Gaza and Israel, killing and torturing 1,400 Israeli men, women and children in a horrific massacre.

They are charged with wearing or displaying an article, namely an image showing a paraglider, to raise reasonable suspicion that they are supporters of a banned organisation, namely Hamas.

Prosecutor Brett Weaver told Westminster Magistrates’ Court that a week after the Hamas terror attack in Israel ‘there was a huge demonstration in central London in support of the Palestinian people in Gaza.’ The march took place between Oxford Circus and Whitehall.

Noimutu Olayinka Taiwo (27) arrives at Southwark Crown Court today for a trial where she will be accused of expressing support for the banned organization Hamas.

Noimutu Olayinka Taiwo (27) arrives at Southwark Crown Court today for a trial where she will be accused of expressing support for the banned organization Hamas.

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

Pauline Ankunda, 26, outside Southwark Crown Court.  Like her co-accused, she denies the charges against her

Pauline Ankunda, 26, outside Southwark Crown Court. Like her co-accused, she denies the charges against her

‘These three defendants were part of that protest. Each had an image of a paraglider on or about their person,’ he told the court.

“Since the use of paragliders by Hamas has been widely publicized, the prosecution’s case is that these defendants displaying images of paragliders in those circumstances would raise reasonable suspicion that they are a member or supporter of a proscribed organization.”

Ankunda and Alhayek had the images on their backs sold, while Taiwo carries a poster with a photo of a paraglider.

Ankunda was caught on video chanting: ‘France is a terrorist state, the UK is a terrorist state, Italy is a terrorist state.’

The three women were arrested after the police appealed to the media to identify them.

Ankunda and Alhayek attended Croydon police station and initially claimed that someone else had taped the images to their backs, but later gave a statement and accepted that this was not the case.

“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.”

Taiwo was arrested on November 8 after police officers forced their way into her home. When they entered, they found Alhayek, Ankunda and a fourth woman in her living room.

The women were charged with terrorist offenses after this image circulated on social media

The women were charged with terrorist offenses after this image circulated on social media

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

Taiwo was arrested and taken to Hammersmith Police Station.

“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.’

Taiwo, of south Norwood, Alyayek and Anjunda, both of Aukland Road, Upper Norwood, all deny carrying or carrying an article supporting a proscribed terrorist organization

The trial continues.