UK mom convicted of joining Daesh with children
The 26-year-old British mother convicted of belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group after taking her son to Syria, told police she never intended to join the militant network.
Tareena Shakil, who posted pictures of her son next to a weapon, was found guilty at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday of joining ISIS and encouraging terrorism on social media.
The 26-year-old had boarded a plane to Turkey in October 2014 with her one-year-old boy, crossed the border into Syria and spent three months there, West Midlands police said in a statement.
Shakil denied joining ISIS, claiming that a man she met in Turkey had taken her to one of the group’s strongholds in Syria.
But British detectives said Shakil had become a member of the extremist group and was set to become a militant bride.
Now the video recordings of the police interview following Shakil’s arrest have been released – in them she can be seen denying the claims against her.
“It was never my intention to enter into Syria. Whilst being on holiday I happened to meet a young Turkish man on the beach. He claimed he was working on the beach and I liked him. And we developed somewhat of a relationship,” she claimed during police interviews
She said the man took her to Syria, and described the reaction of other women when she arrived at the ISIS camp.
Shakil explained: “The other women were like ‘This place, this place is hell, this place is hell’. That place was not a good place, it was a horrible, horrible place.”
She said she pleaded with the man to let her leave, but said he would not let her go.
“I want to leave this place, I want to leave this place, why have you brought me here, I don’t want to be in this place, I want to go back to Antalyah.”
She said the man told her it was impossible for him to let her leave because she would alert the police to the location of the camp.
Shakil described being driven in a car one kilometer away from the Turkish border and demanding that the driver stop to let her out.
She told police: “I just ran, because one kilometer is just nothing. And I just ran, ran, ran. And I can see these ISIS fighters, I don’t think they’ve seen me because nobody tried to come for me or shoot at me. And as I came up to the border there’s a car of Turkish soldiers patrolling the border and they took me and I said to them ‘You need to help me’”
A photograph uncovered by police showed her posing in Syria underneath an ISIS flag. She left the country in January 2015, although it is not known why, the statement added.
She was arrested by counter-terrorism officers when she returned to Britain on Feb. 18 after landing at Heathrow Airport. The child was taken into care.
The police did not believe her claims and on Friday a British court convicted her.
“Tareena Shakil had self-radicalized by viewing extremist material on the internet, before leaving the UK,”; said Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale in the statement.
“Our assessment is that she was not naïve. She had absolutely clear intentions when she left the UK, sending tweets encouraging the public to commit acts of terrorism here and then taking her young child to join Daesh in Syria,” Beale explained, using an Arabic acronym that is used to describe ISIS.
“Photographs seized from her phone showed Ms Shakil posing with a firearm and wearing a Daesh balaclava. Another showed a rucksack with a Daesh logo and person holding a handgun. These were taken while she was in Syria.”
Security services estimate some 600 Britons have joined the ranks of ISIS and other militant groups in Syria and Iraq, many of them crossing via Turkey. About half are believed to have returned to Britain.
Shakil will be sentenced on Monday, Feb. 1.