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British woman 'took toddler to Syria to join IS and posed boy with guns'

Published 14/01/2016

A jury has been sworn in at Birmingham Crown Court
A jury has been sworn in at Birmingham Crown Court

A British mother allegedly took her toddler to Syria to join Islamic State, posing the child with guns for photos and wearing clothing branded with the terror group's logo, a court has heard.

Tareena Shakil told her family she was off on a package holiday to Turkey in October 2014 but is accused instead of travelling to the city of Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State (IS) - also known as Isis - in northern Syria.

It is alleged that the bright former college student later sent messages home to friends and relatives in the UK, saying she was "happy" there and asking them to visit.

Prosecutors told a jury at Birmingham Crown Court it was also their case that while there Shakil either married or arranged to be married to a jihadi fighter.

She is further accused of using social media to encourage acts of terrorism, but denies all the charges against her.

The trial of Shakil, who is originally from Burton on Trent in Staffordshire but more recently from Sparkbrook in Birmingham, began on Thursday.

She is thought to be the first British woman to return from the IS heartland to face such terror charges.

Opening the case against the 26-year-old, Sean Larkin QC, for the prosecution, said Shakil was radicalised in 2014, researching and then posting messages and pictures in support of IS.

He said: "She left for Turkey on October 20.

"Although she booked a return flight, she was not going to come back, and this was no spur-of-the-moment decision."

Mr Larkin added: "What she then did was to leave farewell notes to be found by her family and flew to Turkey.

"Within Turkey, she travelled to the border between Syria and Turkey, and she crossed the border.

"Once she had crossed the border she carried on, communicating when able with her friends and family, and she lived her life as a Mujahira and while there she either did or arranged to get married to a fighter."

He went on: "She was given a house to live in. She was provided for.

"She was given access to firearms, and there were images of her (child) wearing clothing with the Isis logo and posing by a firearm.

"And over a period that we're talking about, the 23rd October - when she crossed (the border) - and January 9 2015, when she came back (into Turkey), she was saying to people she was happy - and asking that people come and visit."

She was arrested by British police at Heathrow Airport in February last year after arriving back on a flight from Turkey.

In interview, she told officers she was kidnapped and taken to Syria but had managed to escape.

Mr Larkin said: "We suggest she did not tell the truth in interview."

The trial is scheduled to last up to three weeks.

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