Mother guilty of taking son to Syria to join Islamic State

Tareena Shakil. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Tareena Shakil. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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A mother has been found guilty of taking her toddler son to Syria to join Islamic State (IS), becoming the first British woman convicted of the offence after returning from the self-declared caliphate.

Tareena Shakil posed her boy for pictures wearing an IS-branded balaclava after secretly running away to Syria in October 2014.

She was also convicted of encouraging acts of terror in Twitter posts made before leaving the UK.

During a two-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court, 26-year-old Shakil had denied the charges, claiming she only travelled to Syria because of a wish to live under the rule of sharia law.

However, the jury did not believe her account after seeing tweets, messages and photographs, including images of the black flag of IS and passages calling on people to “take up arms”, and stating her wish to become a “martyr”.

Judge Melbourne Inman QC, the Recorder of Birmingham, told Shakil – who looked stunned by the verdicts – that she would be sentenced on Monday before rmanding her in custody over the weekend.

Shakil had claimed she feared eternal damnation if she did not make the journey, and told loved ones that staying in the UK in a damaged relationship with her estranged husband would “lead me to hell”.

In a conversation with her father on WhatsApp, in mid-December 2014 while living under IS rule, she told him: “I want to die here as a martyr.”

She later claimed these messages were sent under duress by female Islamic State minders.

Jurors heard that before going to Syria, Shakil had chatted online with “prominent IS member” Fabio Pocas.

She was also in touch with Sally Ann Jones, the British widow of Birmingham jihadi Junaid Hussain who was killed in a drone strike in Syria last year.

The 26-year-old also changed the status of her Facebook page – emblazoned with the black flag of IS – to read: “If you don’t like the current events in Sham [Syria] take to arms and not the keyboard.”

But when asked in court if she ever intended to encourage acts of terrorism, she replied: “Not at all.”