UK

Walsall group jailed for terror offences

Undated handout file photo issued by West Midlands Police of Muslim convert Lorna Moore Image copyright PA
Image caption The judge said Moore had lied about knowing of her husband's intention to fight - and ultimately planning to join him

A group of friends from Walsall who planned to bring up their children under so-called Islamic State in Syria have been jailed.

Mother-of-three Lorna Moore was jailed for two and a half years after failing to tell the authorities her husband was about to join the militant group.

Her husband Sajid Aslam, 34, was part of a large network that heeded the militants' call for volunteers in 2014.

Police say 12 people from Walsall went to Syria or tried to do so that year.

Two of the men who made it to Syria have since died, while the whereabouts of others is unclear.

'Lie after lie'

Ayman Shaukat, 28, was jailed for a total of 10 years with a five-year extended licence for helping Aslam and Muslim convert Alex Nash, 22, travel to Syria.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Judge Wide said Shaukat was "committed" to terrorism

Nash, who got as far as Turkey, was jailed for five years with a one-year additional licence.

Judge Wide said Shaukat was "committed" and Nash "dedicated" to terrorism.


Analysis

Image copyright Reuters

By Dominic Casciani, home affairs correspondent

This has been one of the most complex and challenging investigations by West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit since the Islamic State group called for volunteers to help populate its self-declared frontiers - and the investigating team were praised by Judge Charles Wide QC for how they had brought the case together.

Lorna Moore showed no emotion as she was sentenced to two and a half years - but Kerry Thomason quietly wept with relief as she received her suspended sentence.

At the centre of this case was a simple issue of mindset and motivations.

Alex Nash, who reached Turkey with his then pregnant wife, told the court in a frank letter that he was using his time in prison to learn what his religion actually meant.

Ayman Shaukat, who helped organise the travel, was however deemed so dangerous that the judge says he must be monitored for 15 years.


Muslim convert Moore, 34, originally from Northern Ireland, was planning to take her three young children - including an 11-month-old baby - to the war zone.

The trainee maths teacher sat emotionless in the dock as the judge described her as sharing the same mindset as her husband.

Sentencing at the Old Bailey, Judge Charles Wide QC described Moore as a "very strong character" and said she "knew perfectly well of [her] husband's dedication to terrorism".

"One of the troubling things about you is your facility for telling lies," he added.

He said Moore had told "lie after lie" to the jury during her trial and that some of her evidence was "nonsense".

Around the same time, a number of pregnant women from the same community were poised to travel to IS-controlled territory to give birth.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The judge described Kerry Thomason as "naive"

Kerry Thomason, 24, had admitted preparing for acts of terrorism by planning to join her husband, Isaiah Siadatan, in Syria while pregnant with their third child.

The judge described her as "naive" and suspended her two-year prison sentence after hearing Siadatan had threatened to send a "sleeper cell" to murder her parents.

Siadatan, 24, is believed to have been killed in the summer of 2015.

The first of the the West Midlands group to go to Syria was Muslim convert Jake Petty, 25, also known as Abu Yaqoob Britany.

His Christian minister mother Sue Boyce wept as she told jurors how she begged him not to go and later had to identify his body from video footage on social media after he was killed in December 2014.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Nash and his pregnant wife Yousma Jan, 20, were stopped by Turkish authorities as they tried to travel to Syria

Nash and his pregnant wife Yousma Jan, 20, were arrested by Turkish authorities and sent back to the UK.

He took sole responsibility for the plan and admitted preparing acts of terrorism, while a charge against Jan was discontinued.

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