Ismael Watson guilty of Syria terrorism plan

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Ismael WatsonImage source, West Midlands Police
Image caption,
Ismael Watson was stopped as he tried to cross the Turkish border into Syria

A Muslim convert caught trying to join so-called Islamic State has been convicted of planning to travel to Syria to engage in terrorism.

Ismael Watson was stopped as he tried to cross the Turkish border into Syria in July 2016, the Old Bailey heard.

He had denied preparation of terrorist acts and opted to represent himself but refused to attend court.

His first trial was abandoned and following a two-day retrial, he was found guilty in his absence.

The 27-year-old, born Jack Watson, was found guilty of preparing for acts of terrorism under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006.

The court had heard the defendant was described by his mother as "meek, mild and easily influenced".

Security service agents

Watson, originally from Liverpool, moved to the West Midlands after undergoing an Islamic marriage in September 2015, but the relationship broke down.

His estranged wife called police concerned he was becoming radicalised and on 19 January 2016, Watson was detained and questioned under counter terrorism laws as he boarded an EasyJet flight to Marrakech from Manchester Airport.

The following day, he took another flight to the Moroccan city from Gatwick Airport and then travelled on to Turkey.

He had allegedly sought help to cross the border into Syria via contacts on the internet, not realising he was speaking to two undercover security service agents.

Following his conviction, he was remanded in custody to await sentence.

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