Brother of Portsmouth Syria fighter denies terror offences

Mustakim Jaman
Image caption Mustakim Jaman was arrested in October along with his brother Tuhin Shahensha

The brother of a Portsmouth man killed while fighting for militant group Islamic State (IS) in Syria has told a court he would not follow his brother for his parents' sake.

Mustakim Jaman, 23, and another brother, Tuhin Shahensha, 27, were arrested in October.

Both deny charges of engaging in conduct in preparation for terrorism.

Mr Jaman told the court they could not put his parents through the agony of losing another son in conflict.

Kingston Crown Court heard that Ifthekar Jaman died in Syria in 2013, shortly after appearing on the BBC's Newsnight programme.

Mustakim Jaman told the jury, who were shown a clip of the programme, that his family was "devastated" by his brother's death.

'Reserved people'

He said: "To be honest we are quite reserved people and it is one of those things that you want never to happen to your family.

"There's nobody you can talk to about it. You can't try to relate it to other people because this hadn't happened to anyone else in the community at that time."

The two brothers are accused of being part of a group of extremists from Portsmouth who supported using serious violence to create an Islamic state.

But Mr Jaman said neither he nor his brother had planned to travel to the Middle East to join the fighting.

He said Mr Shahensha was seen as a "coward", who was not going to go "because he didn't want our mother and father to lose another son".

"I knew he wasn't going to go; he told me he wasn't going to go.

"We had seen what they went through and we knew we couldn't put them through any more."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption More than 220,000 people have died in Syria's civil war

Mr Jaman did admit that he lied to police about men he is accused of helping to travel to Syria to fight.

He told officers that he thought the men were going to Turkey on holiday, but said in court he thought they were going to Syria to provide humanitarian relief at a refugee camp.

Asked why he had not told the truth, the defendant said that at the time he believed that anyone travelling to Syria was breaking the law and wanted to protect himself and his brother.

In addition to their brother Ifthekar, the court heard that five of the brothers' friends went to Syria.

Mr Jaman said: "They never discussed going out to Syria to fight. You wouldn't assume that they wanted to go and do that; they were just normal guys.

"They weren't people you would expect to pick up arms."


Mr Jaman was asked by prosecutor Gareth Patterson if he believed in IS's goal of creating a Muslim state.

He replied: "Every Muslim wants to see the creation of [an] Islamic state. That doesn't mean the one IS have created.

"How it's going to come about we don't know but it is something that is just prophesised.

"I believe that if it is prophesised we are meant to believe it."

After being shown another clip from Newsnight, Mr Jaman was questioned over his brother Ifthekar's mention of IS aid work.

Calling the work "good deeds", Mr Jaman said: "Whether it was a battle for hearts and minds or not, they were still doing it, providing for the community."

The prosecutor said: "You knew that Isis [IS] were believed to be one of the most radical groups, accused of brutalities including summary executions."

He replied: "Some of the group did that, not all of them."

Mr Patterson continued: "It was with all that knowledge, that they were part of al-Qaeda, that we must view your conduct in the weeks and months that followed.

"You had watched that broadcast and seen what was being said or suggested about Isis."

Mr Jaman replied: "What was suggested, yes."

The trial continues.