ISIS pharmacist breached profession’s fundamental tenets

A British pharmacist has been struck off the register following his conviction for dissemination of a terrorist publication

Zameer Abdul Majid Ghumra was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for showing an eight-year-old boy ISIS propaganda which included video footage of beheadings, with intent to radicalise the boy.

Now, his registration as a pharmacist has been cancelled at a fitness to practise committee hearing of the General Pharmaceutical Council.

Despite having been made aware that the hearing was set to take place, Mr Ghumra did not respond and was not represented at the hearing. The GPhC used the records of his conviction to make its decision.

The Committee heard that in the summer of 2014, Mr Ghumra showed the eight-year-old boy videos of beheadings, as “part of a determined effort to indoctrinate and to radicalise the child, and to turn this small boy… into a terrorist”.

“The evidence before the jury was that the boy asked the defendant, ‘How do they behead people, because it makes you feel so disgusting?’ to which the defendant… replied, ‘If you truly love Allah then you will do it’,” the judge in the original trial noted.

The older boy testified that Mr Ghumra asked him whether he wanted to “stay here and make other people believe in ISIS, or do you want to come with me?”

Both the boy and his seven-year-old brother were also shown violent movies which were mainstream entertainment such as Sweeney Todd, but inappropriate for their ages and “done for a purpose,” the Court heard.

Mr Ghumra also created Twitter accounts for both boys, which were set up to follow extremist preachers such as Abu Baraa and Anjem Choudrey. The older boy’s Twitter profile picture was the Islamic State flag.

Meanwhile Mr Ghumra also created business cards for the seven-year-old which described him as a “Palestine army general” with a picture of an assault rifle.

Mr Ghumra also took to social media to discuss whether he could take the boys to Syria to fight for ISIS without the permission of their mother, and taught the boys how to punch, kick and throw knives.

The judge had said that the crime was “most shocking” and damaged the children, and was also likely to have caused offence to the “vast majority of decent, law abiding followers of the Islamic faith”.

The GPhC committee hearing examined whether this conviction lead to the conclusion that Mr Ghumra’s fitness to practise as a pharmacist is currently impaired.

It noted that he had always denied the offence, had not engaged in the hearing process in any way and “has shown no remorse or insight whatsoever”.

“He was prepared to encourage a person to take up arms as a terrorist,” it noted.

“If he was successful, undoubtedly this could lead to members of the public being injured.

“The conduct for which the registrant has been convicted represents a most serious offence which presents a risk of actual harm to members of the public.

“Furthermore, there was a clear risk of psychological harm to anyone shown such a video, more so because in this instance the person shown the video was so young. Indeed, one of the children shown the video did, according to the judge, suffer psychological harm.

“A pharmacist convicted of this offence is capable of bringing the profession into disrepute by undermining public confidence in pharmacy professionals, who are expected to demonstrate the appropriate personal and professional conduct,” the Committee noted.

“The ideology of ISIS is one which is incompatible with the fundamental principles of the pharmacy profession, which requires one to treat people of all faiths and lifestyles with respect.

“The registrant has by his actions breached one of the fundamental tenets of the profession.”

While the offence was not directly concerned with his profession as a pharmacist, the Committee found that Mr Ghumra’s actions showed his fitness to practise pharmacy was impaired and that he had damaged the reputation of pharmacy professionals and the public’s faith in them.

It noted that the offence was too significant to be satisfactorily addressed with a suspension, and that his conduct was “fundamentally incompatible” with continued registration as a pharmacist.

“Public confidence in the profession demands no lesser sanction than removal from the register.”

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