Father of two jailed at Leeds Crown Court said plans to travel to Syria and join Islamic State 'a bit of banter'

A father-of-two who told an undercover police officer he intended to join Islamic State (IS) and fight in Syria has been jailed for six years.
The man joined Islamic StateThe man joined Islamic State
The man joined Islamic State

Ghulam Hussain, 31, bought plane tickets with the intention of travelling to Syria and said he would rather die than return to the UK.

He gave the officer £160 to pay for his accommodation on his journey to join Daesh and made plans to meet him in Turkey.

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Hussain earlier admitted engaging in conduct in preparation for committing an act of terrorism and engaging in conduct with the intention of assisting another person to commit an act of terrorism.

He was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court on Friday.

The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier QC, said: "It was your intention to go abroad, it was your intention to take up arms and to kill and you did encourage the undercover officer to do the same as you.

"You did have a commitment to travel to Syria, to join Daesh, to fight and give your life."

The court heard that Hussain, of Track Road, Batley, spent £390 on tickets to Pakistan via Istanbul.

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The defendant, who is of Pakistani origin, claimed he was visiting family and stopping in Turkey for dental treatment, but intended to "disappear" in Istanbul and travel to Syria.

He met the undercover officer at a retail park in the East Midlands on October 6 last year and audio and video recordings were made of their conversations.

Simon Davis, prosecuting, told the court that Hussain told the officer he had been making plans to travel to Syria for the past 12 months and would give a pledge of allegiance to IS when he arrived.

Mr Davis said: "He said he would rather take a bullet than come back to this dump.

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"He wanted to fight. When he got out there, he intended to fight, he wanted to train."

The prosecutor said Hussain told the officer they would get to handle a weapon when they got there and would fight the non-believers.

The court heard that he gave the officer advice about social media, where to book accommodation in Istanbul, travel times to the Syrian border and clothing needed for the journey.

He also told him he had obtained credit by lying about his income and said he was withdrawing money against the cards and not paying the balance.

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Mr Davis said: "He said it was alright to lie like this as long as the money was being used for jihad."

When the officer said he needed help with his accommodation costs, Hussain gave him £160 from £250 he had withdrawn earlier that day.

The defendant remained in contact with the officer until his arrest in November.

In interview, he gave prepared statements in which he said he had no intention of going to fight for IS and described the conversation with the officer as a "bit of banter".

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Examination of his mobile phone found material which glorified the actions of IS, including "gruesome" videos of executions.

Mr Davis said the "consistent theme is pro-Islamic State".

The court heard that Hussain had not joined any extremist organisations or made contact with anyone on Syria.

In mitigation, Abdul Iqbal said there may be a difference between the defendant's intentions and what he had the capacity to achieve.

He described "family man" Hussain as of "low average intelligence" and a "dependent individual" and said his legitimate interest in world affairs led to him being influenced by others.

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Judge Collier told Hussain, who showed no emotion as he was jailed, he would serve half his sentence before being released on licence.

Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson, from the North East Counter Terrorism Unit, said: "This has been a detailed and thorough investigation, which led to the defendant pleading guilty in light of the weight of evidence against him.

"This case highlights the way extremists reach out to each other and over a relatively short period of time can encourage others to commit offences; on this occasion to encourage a British citizen to travel to Syria to fight, train and live.

"It is also a further example of how the UK police and security and intelligence services are working tirelessly, using a range of tactics to confront the terrorist threat and keep the public safe.

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"We work hard to stop people becoming radicalised online and we rely on the public for information.

"We urge anyone who has concerns that a loved one may be being radicalised or wanting to travel to a conflict zone to contact us on 101."

Reporting from PA

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